HOLBY CITY star Lee Mead has revealed he’s been forced to live off savings after not earning a penny this year because of lockdown.
The singer and West End star had a tour and cruise ship work lined up for 2020, but after the pandemic struck in March everything was cancelled.
Now he says he has regrets about quitting his role in the BBC1 medical series Holby City just three months before Covid struck, as it would have kept him in regular work.
The performer, who found fame in the BBC talent show Any Dream Will Do, said: "It’s been a tough year financially, as everything was pulled, including a tour, cruises and corporate work, so I’ve literally had no financial income all year and I’ve pretty much lived off savings.
"I’ve really missed being on stage too, so there have been some low periods."
He added: "It’s been very stressful, I’m not going to lie, but my family and my partner Izzy have been an amazing support.
"They’ve picked me up and helped me through it. I don’t want to sound ungrateful, because we’re healthy and safe and I’ve managed to keep my home.
"I’ve got friends in a less fortunate position that haven’t had savings and have lost everything and are living back with their parents," the stage star shared.
"And the positive has been that I’ve got to spend lots of time together with Izzy, my daughter Betsy and my stepson Alfie, so I feel very lucky."
Prior to lockdown, Lee, 39, had spent five years playing kind-hearted nurse Ben 'Lofty' Chiltern, first in Casualty and then in Holby City, but he left a year ago.
He said: "I felt there wasn't much more I could give the character.
"I had some amazing storylines and did some great stuff, so it felt natural to move on, but I slightly regretted it, because the plan was to go into this year doing a tour, and lots of work and concerts and sing live again and then in March the lockdown hit, so I literally couldn’t do any of the shows."
Lee has now finally returned to work, recording his first-ever festive single In My Arms for Christmas.
He said: "I've always wanted to release a Christmas song, and when it came up, the song felt very fitting, given the awful year we have all had.
"It’s a feel-good song about being with your loved ones at Christmas."
The video for the single also features Lee’s postman Dad Stephen, as a tribute to the key workers who have kept the country running during the pandemic.
As a thank you, Lee is giving away £25,000-worth of free tickets for his upcoming 2021 tour, for key worker members of the GMB Union via a ballot on his website.
"Like millions of other hard-pressed, low-paid workers they had to go on, to keep the country running; I wanted to do something to thank all of them," he explained.
Lee, who shares ten year-old daughter Betsy, with his ex-wife, TV presenter Denise van Outen, will be spending Christmas Day this year with Izzy, Betsy and Izzy’s seven-year old son Alfie.
"It’s our first Christmas all together since we got together four years ago," he said.
To his surprise, Lee will also be appearing in pantomime this year, playing the Prince in Sleeping Beauty in Milton Keynes.
"I’ve done panto for the last ten years," the TV star shared. "It looked like it wasn’t going to happen this year, but I got a call two weeks ago, which I’m really excited about.
"I’m looking forward to being back on stage after almost a year not doing anything.
"We're going to be wearing masks on stage and keeping two metres distance from each other, so it will be really different this year, but seeing the kids in the audience laughing and happy is what it’s about."
With his Christmas single out and 2021 on the horizon, Lee is now crossing his fingers that work will pick up.
He said: "There are a few cruises in the diary, some summer concerts hopefully happening and I’m waiting to hear back on a couple of shows, including a big musical at the start of next year and then there’s a new album coming out ahead of the tour.
"There’s lots to look forward to."
Lee Mead – In My Arms For Christmas is out 14 December.
A ballot for 1000 free tickets for the 2021 tour Lee Mead My Band and Me for key worker members of the GMB Union opens on December 14. Applications to www.leemead.co.uk
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