Duncan James talks dressing as a woman and why soap life isn't for him

HEY, Duncan! Is musical theatre where your heart lies now?

I’ve been into the stage since I was four. I did an A level in drama and it was always what I wanted to do – Blue just kind of happened along the way, which was great. I did Chicago 11 years ago and adored it. I like doing TV but I don’t love it – I love theatre. I feel comfortable on the stage and that’s where I’m most at home.

How long does it take you to get ready to play Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Show?

You might not believe it but only about half an hour. It’s just getting the eye make-up right. Dressing doesn’t take long as I’m only wearing lingerie and a wig!

Do you like dressing up as a woman?

It’s great fun. It’s really liberating. I first dressed up as a woman in Priscilla Queen Of The Desert three years ago. I was nervous about pulling it off, but once you have the whole get-up on it’s so much fun.

Have you had any big mishaps on stage?

Not really, though I have to be careful with my jockstrap. I’m always worried my balls will be hanging out!

Ha! Would you go back to soaps in the future?

I wouldn’t say I enjoyed soaps at all [Duncan left Hollyoaks in 2018].

It was really, really hard work. You’re doing 15-hour days on set – you have a 6am wake-up call and you don’t get home until 8pm – and it’s six days a week.

Then you have to go home and learn your lines for the next day. It fried my brain.

Do you still get called Duncan from Blue?

All the time. I’m very proud of it. Blue is where I started out and it’s the reason I’m here today.

How close are you to the other boys?

Very. We have a WhatsApp group and speak every day. Simon is the granddad you go to for advice, Anthony is sensible as he’s loved-up and Lee’s my party pal.

What’s the latest with the band?

We’ve just got back from touring Singapore and Malaysia. We’ve got our 20th anniversary in 2021, so we’ll do something big to celebrate for the fans.

You guys have had a hard time financially…

It was awful, but we liquidated our company after our old manager sued us. We said we’d rather dissolve the company and go bankrupt than give him any more money.

Rocky Horror is pretty X-rated – will your 14-year-old daughter Tianie-Finn see it?

She wants to. I’m debating it. She’s a teenager and I’m sure she knows lots of rude words, but this is a different kettle of fish.


  • Duncan took pity on us, dishing out turmeric and ginger shots to help our cold.
  • Lee Ryan was coming to see him in the show that night.
  • Dunc rushed off to call his mum at the end of the shoot. Aww!

Are you single right now?

Very much so. It’s so hard to be with anyone when I’m on the stage.

I live out of a suitcase and I don’t have time to spend with anyone, not in the way you need to make something work. Right now I spend days off with my mum and my daughter. They’re my focus.

  • Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show tours the UK until November. Visit Rockyhorror.co.uk


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