ACTOR, singer, dancer. Ray Quinn has packed a lot into his 31 years. The Liverpudlian’s latest adventure sees him in Bolton where he is appearing as Aladdin in The Albert Halls’ Christmas panto.

“I’ve played at this theatre before and I remember the audience was fantastic so I’m really excited,” said Ray. “It’s always fun playing Aladdin - he’s the young lad who is ambitious and wants to build his hopes and dreams from nothing. It’s the ultimate fairytale really.”

Ray is already a veteran of the peculiarly English pastime of the panto, estimating this is his 15th festive appearance.

“The more the merrier I say,” he said. “There’s only a certain amount of cinemas or bowling alleys you can go to so this is something different for the kids and it keeps the theatre alive at Christmas. It’s theatre at its best because it's fun and doesn’t discriminate and it’s an opportunity for children to experience the theatre for the first time.”

Ray first came to the public’s attention in Channel 4 soap, Brookside, which he starred in from 2000 until 2003. Ray played the role of Anthony Murray and was involved in a controversial storyline which saw him murder his school bully Imelda in some gruesome scenes.

“I got Brookside when I was eight years old and now more than 20 years later I’m in Hollyoaks so it almost feels full circle,” said Ray, who has played right wing extremist Jonny Baxter throughout 2019. “It’s still a lot of the same crew from when I was a child and I’ve really enjoyed the role. It has been difficult at times because Jonny is not a good person, but as an actor you relish that challenge of trying to be something that you’re not.

“It was also important to talk about these issues - whether it’s bullying, grooming or racism because sadly they go on. I have two children and I want them to grow up with nice people around them. Thankfully it got the nation talking and I think it really made a difference. The amount of calls we’ve had I know it’s changed a few lives.”

Ray recently left the show, but he hopes the door will remain open for a comeback. But until then it is back to the music career which saw him come second in the third series of The X Factor in 2006, finishing behind Leona Lewis.

“Once the panto is out of the way I have my single coming out,” he said. “I have been working on an album which sees me going back to working with an orchestra in a big band style and playing music from across four decades.

“I’ve taken songs I’m influenced by and connected with and there’s also a couple of originals on there. I’m hoping they’re songs people might not have heard in a while and the album will hopefully drop on Mother’s Day next year.”

Next year will also see him singing on the cruise ships, although he admits to having second thoughts.

“I’ve never been on a cruise and I’ve always said no in the past because I’m scared of water,” he laughed. “I’m going all the way to Barbados so it’s very exciting.”

Despite the packed schedule over the next month, Ray is grateful for having Christmas Day off and intends to enjoy it.

“I’ll be cooking a nice dinner, spending some time with the family and handing out all the presents after a manic week of running around Bolton,” he added. “But I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

Aladdin is at the Albert Halls, Bolton, until December 31.Details from or the box office on 0843 208 0500