IT is one of the iconic images - the white suit, the lit up dancefloor, the glitterball overhead. The role of Tony Manero made John Travolta a star and now as Saturday Night Fever comes to Manchester, Richard Winsor looks set to follow in his footsteps.

For Casualty fans, seeing Caleb Knight strutting his stuff as the young New Yorker who lives to dance at the weekends may come as a bit of a shock. But Richard, who left the Saturday night hospital drama in 2017, is more than qualified to carry off one of the most demanding roles in musical theatre.

For 10 years, he was the principle dancer for avant garde choreographer Matthew Bourne, creating the lead role in his ground-breaking, all-male production of Swan Lake and also taking the lead in Edward Scissorhands.

“Saturday Night Fever is a real challenge but it’s also a dream role,” said Richard. “It’s a coupling of two of the things I love to do - dancing and acting.”

Saturday Night Fever features a soundtrack of some of the greatest disco songs of all time written by the Bee Gees. But at its heart lies a gritty storyline, not often found in musical theatre.

“It’s certainly not Grease,” laughed Richard, referring the other musical associated with John Travolta.

“Yes, we’ve got the gloss and the big set pieces you’d expect but the undercurrent of the drama runs through the whole thing. It really is a hard hitting, powerful piece of theatre.”

Richard said it was films such as Saturday Night Fever which convinced him that he wanted to train as a dancer - he trained at the Central School of Ballet and Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

“John Travolta, Patrick Swayze, Kevin Bacon - they were all very masculine performers. Seeing guys do that really propelled me in a very strong way to do this.”

Although influenced by John Travolta, Richard doesn’t want to try and copy his performance.

“He had such a fluidity to his movement; such a natural grace,” he said. “I don’t want to be a carbon copy of him but from a stylistic point of view there is a lot to take from what he did.

“The challenge to me has been that although I am a trained dancer I have never done many of those disco moves before. But that’s part of being a dancer, you continually develop different styles.”

Working with Matthew Bourne for so long has also helped him develop the role.

“Matthew taught me how to tell a story with your body,” he said. “His world is very theatrical and story driven. You need to know who his characters are to really tell the show.”

With a live band and singers on stage, Richard says that audiences at the Palace Theatre are in for a real treat.

“The audience are there enjoying this amazing concert as well as having the big dance set pieces in front of them and being told a story. It is a really wonderful event,” he said.

“At the end of the show we do a megamix of all those great songs as an encore and everyone is up and dancing - it’s just a great big party to end the night. It’s brilliant to be part of it.”

That strong audience connection is another thing which attracted Richard back to the theatre after three years on Casualty.

“I just love getting in front of an audience and delivering a deep, multi-faceted character,” he said. “That’s what this show has provided for me.

“On TV you have to trust the script and the director but you don’t know how viewers are reacting to your performance. On stage it’s immediate.”

Richard believes that Manchester audiences will be seeing the show at a great time - it opened in September with the cast having a short break over Christmas.

“When we started we had just over three weeks to rehearse and get the show on the stage,” he said. “But now some 100 shows in, I’m in a really strong place with the character, I’ve found so many fantastic things to give the audience. It’s a visceral experience watching the show.”

The show fits perfectly with Richard’s hopes for his career.

“I only take things that are going to challenge me,” he said.

“I don’t take things just for the money or simply on the back of being some kind of celebrity from Casualty.

“I always want to do something that will push me in a new direction or challenge me in a certain way.”

Saturday Night Fever, Palace Theatre, Manchester, Tuesday, January 22 to Saturday, January 26. Details from 0844 871 3019 or