HE is defined by determination rather than defeatism.

Despite his bout of ill health, James Buckley - once dubbed Bradford’s answer to Billy Elliot - is now on course to achieving the dream....

During his early teens the former Woodhouse Grove scholar was a ballet champion in South and West Yorkshire.

His dancing, along with his appearance on Junior Dragon’s Den which led to James launching the educational package ‘Look for Loneliness’ designed to support youngsters feeling lonely, catapulted him into the spotlight.

But at the age of 11 James began to suffer with health problems. Initially his general lethargy was put down to ME, described as a chronic fatigue condition.

Further tests revealed James was suffering with Crohns, an inflammatory bowel disease.

Ironically, it was for the sake of his health that James decided to end his medicine studies at UCL in London - curtailing his ambition to become a psychiatrist and prompting him to return to his passion for performing.

While recuperating from surgery for an abscess related to his Crohn’s Disease James began to focus on the future. “While I was very ill in March 2017 I had just had surgery and I wasn’t very well. I wanted to focus on something to do.

“Everyone in Halifax at the time was talking about ‘Gypsy’” says James, referring to the musical said to be loosely based on the memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee which he is bringing to the Halifax Playhouse next month.

Drawing on his experience in the industry, James was able to assemble a cast of professionals.

Staging a play based on a subject, he admits, has become a fascination, is certainly a satisfying achievement for James.

“I am completely fascinated.

“It is a massively entertaining plot and when you get down to the nitty gritty it’s so dark”

For James, it is also a reminder of his time in the spotlight. Watching ‘Gypsy’ in the West End with Imelda Staunton playing Momma Rose and Lara Pulver as daughter Louise, reunited him with a familiar face.

“I worked with Lara Pulver on Robin Hood," he recalls.

Spending two months in a five star hotel in Budapest and filming in the Hungarian forest for Robin Hood was one of the highlights of a career which was effectively inspired after taking his tentative steps into dancing at the age of three.

“I started going to class, fully knuckled down at 14 and decided I wanted to be a dancer,” explains James.”

But his admission that he hasn’t yet fully realised his dream perhaps hints at bigger plans in future? The 20-year-old has the musical Chicago in his sights as his next project. For now he’s focusing on bringing ‘Gypsy’ to the stage.

“We are getting through and working hard like I have always done and it is incredibly satisfying,” says James.

‘Gyspy’ runs at the Halifax Playhouse from April 3 to April 7. Call the Playhouse on 01422 365998 or email: boxoffice@halifaxplayhouse.org.uk