POPULAR actor and former Strictly champion Joe McFadden is to star in sparkling musical Priscilla Queen of the Desert, heading for Bradford this summer.

The show - about three friends travelling across the Australian Outback on a battered old bus, to put on the drag show of a lifetime - features a dazzling array of costumes and disco classics, including It's Raining Men, I Love The Nightlife, Finally and I Will Survive. Based on the 1994 film, Priscilla Queen of the Desert is a heartwarming story of self-discovery, friendship and acceptance.

Joe, who played Raf di Lucca in BBC1 medical drama Holby City, plays Tick, a drag queen with a hidden family. It's the role played by Jason Donovan for many years. Now Jason is co-producing the show for its UK tour, coming to the Alhambra from September 17-21.

"I love the film, and it works so well on stage," said Joe. "This production has a whole new design concept; last time it was very polished and spectacular but now has more of the film's grittiness. These are three performers touring in an old bus, they don't have much money between them and when it comes to making costumes they have to improvise."

Joe, who won Strictly Come dancing in 2017 with professional partner Katya Jones, hopes his moves will come in handy in the fast-paced show. "I had a great teacher, Katya made me a dancer. Hopefully she'll come and watch me in this," he said. "Drag is a skill; in this show it's like playing two roles, because our characters each have a drag alter ego.

"We've had some good advice from Jason - get used to wearing the heels early on! We're playing professional drag queens, so we have to make it looked polished, and for that to happen we have to be comfortable in high heels. Bradford's Alhambra is the second venue on the tour, so I might still be a little wide-eyed," he laughed.

Joe shot to fame in Heartbeat in the 1990s and has fond memories of filming in Yorkshire. "I learned to ride a motorbike in Bradford, I remember heading out towards the countryside," he said. "I spent a lot of time in Bradford, I love it up there."

A West End and Broadway hit, Priscilla tackles issues of prejudice and equality, as the friends take a road trip through smalltown Australia.

"It's a show with a big heart, but it's not afraid of confronting issues in a brutal way," said Jason Donovan. "It's about misfits, bigotry, tolerance. Its message is very relevant today. It's not fantasy, but it's fun. It’s a camp celebration."