Singing firefighter Andy Quinn has achieved his dream of performing on a West End stage – with a little help from wife Emma and comedian Michael McIntyre.
Andy, from Heanor, was unknowingly roped into taking part in the new series of Michael McIntyre’s Big Show and sung live at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.
The father-of-two, who works for Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service, appeared in show’s ‘Unexpected Star’ segment – which gives aspiring performers the chance to shine in front of a live audience.
The 36-year-old has a huge passion for musical theatre and has been performing in shows around Derbyshire since the age of ten.
Wife Emma nominated Andy to help him achieve his dream of performing on stage, but it was by no means an easy task.
She was in touch with TV bosses throughout the selection process and sent snippets of Andy performing and singing around the house. But it became more tricky when they requested a secret audition.
Andy’s friend who owns a theatre school in Chesterfield, was roped in to help set up the undercover performance.
“My friend called me and said the BBC were making a documentary about his school and he needed a hand with filming. He asked me to come along and sing on camera to help promote the school, and I thought I was doing just that, I had no idea it was just a ruse,” Andy said.
Nottinghamshire Fire and rescue Service also stepped in to help, as Andy was sent to London to perform under the guise that he was to give a fire safety talk.
But the people in the room, which was next door to the theatre, were all actors in on the secret and being controlled via ear pieces by Michael McIntyre.
The father-of-two said what followed is somewhat of a blur.
“When I found out why I was really there I was shocked.
“There was around 2,500 people in the audience and I was definitely uncomfortable at the thought of singing in front of all of them, but there was no going back at that point.”
Andy, 36, sang ‘Bring Him Home’ from popular show Les Miserables.
He said: “I had around an hour to get sorted and prepared, it was utter chaos. I wasn’t sure I would even be able to perform, but luckily when I got on stage I opened my mouth and the words just came flooding out.
“It is a difficult song to sing, so I was relieved when I got to the end and realised I had done it. “I tried to just switch off and enjoy it because it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
The programme was aired last weekend, and Andy, who watched it alongside his family and friends, said he found it very surreal.
“Seeing myself singing on television was just crazy. But it was quite useful to see as it pieced together my memory of it, because it was such a whirlwind and happened so quickly I couldn’t even remember parts of it!”
Since the show aired, he has been inundated with positive feedback from friends, family, colleagues and total strangers.
“In the past week my social media accounts have gone mental. I have had to many nice messages from people supporting what I did, I feel very lucky.
“I have also had great feedback from my colleagues, we are a really tight-knit team and they have been very supportive.
“I’m not very good with surprises but Emma knew it was dream for me. She is very proud of what I did.
“The children think daddy is now famous which is hilarious. I am the polar opposite of a celebrity – I am a firefighter from Derbyshire.”