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Performing arts friends delighted by TV show success of the 'likeable lad' from Shipley
The X Factor finalist Luke Friend was always a star-in-waiting, according to the theatre school where he honed his performance craft.
Luke, 17, lived in Shipley until he moved with his family to Devon four years ago, and cut his showbiz teeth at the Debut Theatre School of Performing Arts. He attended Beckfoot School in Bingley and also played for Salts FC junior football club.
With his trademark shaggy hair, Luke wowed the judges at the audition stage and last weekend was chosen by Louis Walsh as one of his top three in the ‘boys’ category, meaning he will be fighting to win the public vote from this weekend’s live shows on ITV on Saturdays.
Jacqui Drake, principal of the Debut Theatre School, said: “Luke came to us when he was very young and spent a lot of time with us. He studied drama and performing arts which included acting, singing and dancing.
“We were all gutted when he went to live down south and we all wished him well and hoped he would continue with his performing arts. He obviously pursued it and we’re very, very proud of him at Debut.”
Luke was just ten when he joined Debut and took part in a number of productions, playing The Angel Gabriel in the theatre school’s Rock Nativity show. After moving to Devon he won a weekend scholarship to the Plymouth branch of the Italia Conti stage school.
“He was always a star with us,” said Jacqui. “He was always such a likeable lad, a lovely guy. When he first appeared on X-Factor everyone was contacting me to ask if I’d seen him on the show.” The X-Factor can be a highly emotional experience for the young people involved, but Jacqui isn’t worred about Luke.
She said: “He’s got a very supportive family and he will know to stay grounded. There are highs and lows and I’m sure he’ll get through it. We wish him lots of luck and we’ll all be following his progress.”
While at Beckfoot School in Bingley Luke showed star quality by winning the Beckfoot’s Got Talent show.
He also displayed skill on the football pitch, and a message posted by Salts FC on their Facebook page reads: “On behalf of the club congratulations to ex-player Luke Friend. He played for the club until his family moved down south.
He is now into the final 12 on X-Factor. Good luck.”
Bradford has a high hit rate in TV talent shows, spawning stars including Zayn Malik of One Direction (X-Factor), Kimberley Walsh, formerly of Girls Aloud (Pop Stars: The Rivals) and Gareth Gates (Pop Idol).