Russell’s first television acting role was at the tender age of ten for BBC TV’s very successful Wednesday Play. He was then signed up by Richard Price, Head of LWT Entertainment and was cast in On The Buses, Please Sir!, The Fenn Street Gang, the Doctor series starring both Barry Evans and Robin Nedwell, and roles in programmes starring Hylda Baker and Yootha Joyce. He also played alongside Daniel Massey in The Roads to Freedom, and with Joss Ackland and Barbara Jefford in BBC 2’s Canterbury Tales.
Russell toured in Ivor Novello’s King’s Rhapsody and played Prince Chululongkorn in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I. He headed into his first West End show as Slogger Williams in the musical Tom Brown’s Schooldays (Cambridge Theatre). He then took to the stage of the London Palladium with Tommy Steele in Hans Andersen. Roles in Oh What A Lovely War! (Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury) and Oh Camille! (Arts Theatre, London) brought many more opportunities including many pantomime performances
A great honour was singing songs from Disney’s musical Pinocchio, with Iain Sutherland’s BBC Concert Orchestra for Radio 2’s homage to 60 years of Walt Disney hosted by David Tomlinson at the Royal Albert Hall.
One of Russell’s most treasured moments was to be invited into the Royal Command Variety Performance at the Victoria Palace in front of their Majesties, the Queen and the Queen Mother and HRH Diana, Princess of Wales, where he performed with Angharad Rees in the Marilyn Monroe hit 'I Want To Be Loved By You'.
Playwright Paul Doust offered him the star-role in the London Evening Standard Award-Winning Probably Wanstead (Brighton Festival). Then heading up to the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Sir Alan Ayckbourn’s HQ in Scarborough, Russell played a dual role, Floss and Peter, in a new work Soap with top soap stars Sue Twist (Brookside) and Hannah Waterman (Eastenders).
Russell took the Narrator’s role in Rocky Horror Music Show (National tour) but it is as the director of the classic Dylan Thomas play Under Milk Wood and his performance as the Narrator that had the audience and critics shooting off superlatives.
In honour of the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, Russell directed and starred as Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. A totally original production with Puck as a skinhead, complete with Thames Estuary accent.
Russell’s professional dream came true when given the opportunity to learn how to dance on the BBC’s top-rated series Strictly Come Dancing (2011). Russell was partnered with World Champion Latin dancer, Flavia Cacace. The popular couple won both critics and viewers hearts and were nominated for a BAFTA TV Highlight of the Year when Russell was shot out of a cannon as part of their Jive routine at the Wembley Arena.
Russell picked up the phone one day to hear Andrew Lloyd Webber asking him to star at the London Palladium in The Wizard of Oz. Before playing The Wizard, Russell returned to the West End at the Prince of Wales Theatre in Stephen Schwartz’s Children of Eden playing the Snake.
Russell’s Teen Angel in the 20th anniversary number one theatre tour of Grease the musical has brought critical acclaim around the country. He left the show to concentrate on partnering Flavia Cacace to win the Strictly Come Dancing People’s Champion Glitterball on BBC 1 and took up residency on Strictly It Takes Two on BBC 2 for the rest of 2012.
For the first time in his career Russell headlined in pantomime at the Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury in Peter Pan. The show was a big hit, with a record box office advance. During the run he presented Russell Grant’s Christmas Carols at the Royal Albert Hall and Bridgewater Hall, Manchester starring Russell Watson.
He returned to the West End January 28th 2013 when as special guest star in Midnight Tango at the Phoenix Theatre reunites him with Flavia Cacace and Vincent Simone, his Strictly Come Dancing partner and friend. Once over a one-night-only appearance in toe-tapping 42nd Street at the London Palladium and then the launch of ‘Zalza’ with Flavia a new dance-fitness DVD which sold literally tens-of-thousands on the world-famous shopping channel, QVC. Breaking all targets by a huge amount the Strictly famous couple are now working on their second DVD for release in 2014.
Maytime after recording the children’s classic ‘Heidi’ for Jibba Jabba audio books (the podcast producers of Richard and Judy’s Book Club for WH Smith’s) Russell will head across the waters for the BBC on the exclusive Strictly Come Dancing cruises for P & O’s Carnival then it’s straight back to rehearsals at the St James Theatre, London to narrate, sing and dance in a new show – Ivor Novello and the Great British Musical in June.
In September Russell will host the new theatre production of the popular BBC TV cookery show Ready Steady Cook Live! on stage throughout Britain, briefly taking time out to star in the world-famous Festival of Music and the Cardiff Millennium Centre in October singing and dancing with his old friend Sophie Evans from The Wizard of Oz.
Television & Radio, Corporate - Joscelyn Henton