Sidmouth College welcomes back famous former student Duncan James

Musician and actor Duncan James paid a visit to his old school this week- Sidmouth College. Ref shs

Musician and actor Duncan James paid a visit to his old school this week- Sidmouth College. Ref shs 16-16SH 0815. Picture: Simon Horn - Credit: Archant

Duncan James returned to Sidmouth College to inspire its latest generation of performers and talk about his ‘colourful’ career in the entertainment business.

Budding performers were told to work hard and dream big by a former Sidmouth Youth Theatre star who followed his dreams to achieve worldwide success.

Duncan James last week recalled his time at Sidmouth College and his love of musical theatre before he was catapulted into the limelight as one quarter of the boyband Blue.

The former Sidmouth Amateur Dramatics Society member told pupils that he was advised he could not make a career out of acting - and should consider working in public relations or as a teacher.

Duncan, who attended the school between 1991 and 1996, said: “I think that it is important for everybody, especially growing up, to be able to have a dream, to be able to have a goal and to be able to have a passion for what you love and that passion can be anything.

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“For me, my career has been colourful to say the least - and not just because I was in a band called Blue - colourful in the sense that I have had the opportunity to do so many things. I am very, very lucky. I’m a big believer of what you put out there in the universe is what you get back. So work hard, believe in yourselves and you can probably go on and become a pop star or an actor.”

After leaving school, Duncan joined Haven as a red coat to hone his craft before joining Blue. The band went on to have three number one albums and a host of hit singles.

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Duncan said: “We were touring the world singing with Elton John and Stevie Wonder doing all sorts of amazing things. I think, after five years of doing that, we just had complete blow-out.

“What comes with fame - it’s not all glitz and glamour, as fun as it seems, it’s actually quite a reality check. You wake up from that bubble and you realise all of a sudden that everybody kind of knows who you are.”

The 38-year-old has returned to his first love, musical theatre. He has since starred in Chicago and Legally Blonde and is now touring in Priscilla Queen of the Desert.

The father-of-one told pupils that with the highs came lows and opened up about his struggle with his sexuality and making the decision to publicly come out as gay.

Duncan said: “I was quite depressed at the time, because I just felt really scared and I thought I was the only person who is gay that is going through these issues.”

Duncan said he was now more confident in himself and could share his experiences with fans.

He added: “You have to be proud of who you are - stay strong about who you are and it doesn’t matter as long as you are happy in your own skin, that’s the most important thing.”

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