Sunday, 30 August 2015

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Are you our next star?

More than 100 million people were watching across Europe – but Cumbria’s young singing stars did their county and their nation proud.

The Junior Eurovision Song Contest has showcased two Cumbrian stars of the future.

In 2003 Tom Morley from Whitehaven represented the UK and finished third with My Song For The World.

The following year Cory Spedding from Frizington came second with her song The Best is Yet to Come. This remains the highest UK finish in Junior Eurovision.

And the event could prove to be just the beginning for Tom and Cory. Last year Tom and his older brother Jim won through to the boot camp section of ITV talent show The X Factor. But there was disappointment for Tom when he was told that he could not take part as he had just missed the 14-year-old age requirement. Tom, who has been singing since he was seven, is now 14 and may give X Factor another try this year.

Until 2005 Cory Spedding attended Whitehaven School. Cory, now 16, won a £20,000 scholarship to attend the Sylvia Young Theatre School in London. Both she and Tom are previous winners of the News & Star’s Reach for the Stars’ talent contest.

Devonne Mattinson from Aspatria has been a professional singer since leaving Wigton’s Nelson Thomlinson School two years ago.

Devonne, 17, performs all over the UK, often on the same bill as some of the biggest stars in pop music, including Westlife at Carlisle Live in Bitts Park last summer.

Last September she released her debut single, Boys Text Girls, with boy band Billiam. Devonne has also won the News & Star’s Reach for the Stars competition.

Whitehaven 15-year-old Brad Kavanagh is a singing, dancing, acting, guitar-strumming songwriter.

In 2005 he beat hundreds of hopefuls to star in the West End production of Billy Elliott, as Billy’s best friend Michael. He starred in the production for two years and was only 12 when it started.

Now Brad is the darling of the Disney Channel. Disney’s talent spotters saw him in Billy Elliott and thrust him into a starring role in As The Bell Rings, a comedy-drama about the students of Shakespeare High.

And Brad has also been co-presenting My School Musical; a Disney Channel talent contest.

Brad is currently in Cumbria most of the time, studying for this summer’s GCSEs (IT, art and electronics) at St Benedict’s School and catching the train to London to work with Disney.

Currently Cumbria’s most widely seen star, Roxanne Pallett appears as Jo Stiles in ITV1 soap Emmerdale.

Roxanne, 25, grew up on Carlisle’s Currock estate and attended Trinity School.

After completing a degree in media and cultural studies at Liverpool John Moores University, Roxanne was in a girl band called Urban Angel. She then pursued an acting career, landing her Emmerdale role in 2005.

Two years ago Roxanne demonstrated her versatility in ITV1’s reality singing competition Soapstar Superstar, finishing fourth out of 10 contestants.

Roxanne has been nominated for numerous awards and in 2007 she was honoured with her very own rose. The Roxanne Pallett Rose is a deep red hybrid tea rose.

Bryan Dick, from Denton Holme, in Carlisle, is one of Britain’s most successful young actors.

During the past decade Bryan, who recently turned 30, has appeared in many top-rated TV series such as Clocking Off, Dalziel & Pascoe and Shameless.

At the end of last year he starred alongside Kris Marshall in Sold, a Thursday night ITV1 drama about a London estate agency. On Boxing Day Bryan played Freddie Trent in ITV’s adaptation of The Old Curiosity Shop and in January he stole the show in an episode of Torchwood, BBC2’s Doctor Who spin-off.

Bryan and the Doctor’s current incarnation David Tennant have been friends since starring together in BBC1 series Blackpool four years ago. This Carlisle lad’s biggest film role to date came five years ago in the swashbuckling Hollywood blockbuster Master and Commander, in which Bryan played carpenter’s mate Joseph Nagle, alongside Russell Crowe.

Bryan’s first love was dance. After attending Robert Ferguson Primary School and spending a year at Trinity, he went to Elmhurst Ballet School in Surrey at the age of 12. Back home Bryan studied performing arts at Carlisle College of Art for three years and spent another three years at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.

Blasts from the past

Lee Brennan is the only Cumbrian to have a number one record. The Carlisle singer, who grew up in Harraby and Currock, topped the charts as a member of 911 with their version of the Bee Gees’ More Than A Woman.

911 had 10 top 10 singles and appeared on Top of the Pops 13 times.

The band sold millions of records around the world with hits like Don’t Make Me Wait, Bodyshakin’, The Journey, Party People... Friday Night and A Little Bit More.

911 – Lee, Jimmy Constable and Spike Dawbarn – still play together occasionally but Lee, 34, is currently establishing a stage school in London where he lives with his wife Lindsay Armaou, who used to be in girl band B*Witched.

Greg Ridley from Aspatria was the bass player with Sixties and Seventies stadium rock band Humble Pie. The band also included Steve Marriott, previously of The Small Faces, and Peter Frampton.

Born in Aspatria in 1947 and raised in Carlisle, Greg was christened Alf Ridley before changing his name. Humble Pie’s biggest British hit was Natural Born Bugie, which reached number four in 1969.

Greg suffered health problems in his later years. He moved to Spain in 2002 and died of cancer the following year.

The most successful all-Cumbrian band has been It Bites: the Egremont four-piece which featured Francis Dunnery, John Beck, Bob Dalton and Dick Nolan.

Their biggest hit, Calling All The Heroes, reached number six in 1986. The band then had several near misses and split up in the early 1990s. Francis Dunnery now lives in New York and has released several solo albums.

Actor Sean Gilder does not sound like a Cumbrian, either in real life or in his best-known role.

Gilder has a southern accent, having lived in London for the past 25 years, and, in Channel 4 drama series Shameless is extremely convincing as violent, drug-dealing Ulsterman Paddy Maguire.

But Gilder, 44, was born in Carlisle and spent the first year of his life in Brampton before his Cumbrian parents moved away. Gilder still visits Carlisle a couple of times a year to see aunts and uncles and watches Carlisle United whenever they play in or around London.

He had small parts in series like A Touch of Frost, Casualty and The Bill before winning his first major high-profile role as Styles alongside Ioan Gruffudd in ITV’s Hornblower series. Two years ago Gilder was the leader of the evil Sycorax race in David Tennant’s first episode of Doctor Who.

Gilder played the king’s valet in the 2004 film King Arthur, which starred Clive Owen and Keira Knightley, and six years ago he had a small part in Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York.



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