HE’S been a member of one of the most successful pop bands in recent years and now he’s getting ready to take on one of the iconic stage roles - that of Danny in the hit musical Grease.

It’s no wonder that Bolton-born Tom Parker just laughs and says: “I’m a very lucky boy.”

The former Thornleigh School pupil had a string of top 10 hits with The Wanted and next month he will make his stage debut at Manchester’s Palace Theatre in a role made famous in the movie version by John Travolta.

“It has all been a massive learning curve for me,” he said, “but it’s been so enjoyable.”

After three hugely successful albums, The Wanted announced in 2014 that band activities would be put on hold to allow the five members to pursue individual projects.

Tom, from Tonge Moor, admits that he struggled a little to cope with life away from the band. He took part in Celebrity Masterchef and also competed in The Jump.

“I think I lost a bit of confidence in myself,” he said. “I thought I wouldn’t sing for a while.

“I think an element of it was not being in the band, We were so comfortable with each other and could rely on each other then suddenly you are on your own.

“But with Grease, it has been so nice to get back into it.

“Talk about being chucked in at the deep end - it’s a lead role, such an iconic part, but it’s got my confidence back up and I’m loving every day of being involved.”

Now 28, Tom says he has already learned a tremendous amount preparing for the show.

“It’s so different to what I experienced before when I was in the band,” he said. “It’s been so enjoyable learning new skills. Obviously with the band I’m used to singing on stage and I did do a little bit of acting when I was young, but when it comes to the dancing side I’ve learned so much.

“The Wanted were never known for their technical dancing to be honest. we just jumped around a lot, so it’s been nice to add another string to my bow. I’ll pick up so much through doing this tour.”

Tom’s co-stars include former EastEnder’s actress Louisa Lytton, Darren Day and Danielle Hope who plays Sandy. Danielle was the winner of the BBC’s Over the Rainbow which launched her hugely successful West End career.

“The whole company are just so nice,” said Tom. “I knew Louisa through appearing on The Jump with her but that first day of rehearsal was a little bit like first day at school. You don’t want to appear too keen and it can be a little bit awkward. But now we’re all super chilled with each other.”

Taking on such a well-known part would put many actors off, particularly in their first stage role, but Tom is taking in in his stride. “You do have to tread this very fine line,” he said. “Everyone has an image of Danny but you don’t want to be seen as a copy of John Travolta. I have really enjoyed finding that balance.”

Grease opens in Manchester before touring the country until September.

“When I found we were opening in Manchester I was like ‘they couldn’t have written that any better for me’,” said Tom.

“I’m actually going to be staying with my mum and dad for the three weeks we’re in Manchester. This will be the first time been I’ve been able to stay with them for any period of time for years.

“When I was in the band I’d get back home maybe once every six months for a couple of days as we were so busy. This will be my first time living back at home for years - that will be good.”

Mum Noreen and dad Nigel will be in the audience for the show’s opening night. The following night, Tom’s fiancee Kelsey Hardwick, will be at the Palace.

The couple, who got engaged last year, have delayed their wedding until Tom has finished his tour in the show.

“I want to be involved in all the lead-up to the wedding and I didn’t want it just happening or involve me just taking two weeks off from the tour to get married and then heading off on tour again,” he said.

With Grease keeping him busy until September and a wedding to plan, Tom is unsure of his next move after Grease.

“ I could certainly see myself doing more musical theatre in the future,” he said. As for a Wanted reunion?

“We’re all still great mates and there’s no reason why we wouldn’t get back together at some point,” he said.

Grease, Palace Theatre, Manchester, Friday, March 10 to Saturday, March 25. Details from 0844 871 3019