Corrie star kicks off Preston's Christmas celebrations

Coronation Street star Jack P Shepherd told the crowds in Preston his television family the Platts are set for a 'fun' Christmas.
Jack P Shepherd and an all-star cast at Preston Christmas LightsJack P Shepherd and an all-star cast at Preston Christmas Lights
Jack P Shepherd and an all-star cast at Preston Christmas Lights

And so are Prestonians judging by the reaction to the Preston Lights concert and switch-on on Saturday.

A massive crowd cheered and sang along as Jack - alias David Platt - and a host of other stars ushered in the official start of the Christmas celebrations in Preston.

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The festivities got under way with a two-hour concert on the Flag Market, organised by the Preston Business Improvement District.

Crowds at the switch-onCrowds at the switch-on
Crowds at the switch-on

Jack appeared on stage to great applause and told his Smooth Radio hosts that he had been in the soap since the age of 12.

He remembered his first scene was with Mike Baldwin (played by Johhny Briggs) - but he didn’t know who the character was.

Jack said he was now very well aware of the status of legendary soap actors like William Roache (Ken Barlow) and Rita Sullivan (Rita Fairclough).

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He said: “It’s great when you walk into work and can have breakfast with Rita and Ken. I can’t believe I’m working with legends like that.”

Jack, named the 2018 best soap actor after some storming storylines, revealed he always watched the Corrie broadcasts and was self-critical when he needed to be.

“I always look at it and think ‘could I have done this better, or that better?,” he said.

Asked whether the Platts would have a good Christmas, he replied: “Actually we have just finished filming the Christmas episodes.

“Christmas at the Platts is fun.”

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And then he joined the co-stars to flick the switch for the city centre Christmas Lights.

Huge crowds filled the flag market and overflowed into surrounding streets as the Lights concert began.

Children's TV favourite and CBeebies star Andy Day got the proceedings under way, with a dinosaur-themed routine that got youngsters and their parents jumping up and down.

The cast of the pantomime Cinderella at Preston Guild Hall got the crowd going with slapstick fun and the Opera Guy - Ryan Wallace - wowed the audience with his soaring vocals.

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Singer songwriter Renee Mare kept the upbeat music going and Preston’s own Charlotte Lily’s spot included a rendition of YMCA which she performed for the X Factor judges this year.Charlotte thanked the crowd, saying it had been her “best Christmas ever”.

Dancers from Preston College joined Smooth’s own Jo Lloyd on stage, encouraging the huge crwods to keep moving in the cold night air.

Gwen Dickey - the voice of Rose Royce - performed a set of uptempo Rose Royce songs and even threw in Chaka Khan’s I’m Every Woman.

Edele Lynch - the voice of Irish girl band B*witched - delivered a lively set before all the stars and presenters gathered on stage for the big switch-on.

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Preston BID manager Mark Whittle said: “Prestonians never let us down in supporting and enjoying this event, showing up in their thousands helping us officially launch the city’s Christmas period.It was great to see a busy city centre in the lead up to and during the event.

“We’d like to thank city centre businesses who fund the event, the sponsors - The Shankly Hotel, Preston’s College and The Fishergate Shopping Centre, and all the performers and crew who put on a great free show for the thousands to enjoy.

“As we head towards Christmas, we’d ask people around the city to spend locally and support the businesses who fund events like this, that bring a lot of joy to many families."

Jamie Griffiths, Brand Programme Director for Smooth Radio North West said: “It was a real privilege for us to play our part in event, it’s a true highlight in the calendar for Smooth Radio North West and the great weather and fabulous crowd made it even more magical.

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“The mix of music and family entertainment was well executed, with something for everyone. The whole show flew by. Preston BID will be able to confirm this but it felt like the biggest show yet - Christmas has officially arrived in Preston!”