Adam Rickitt: True blue hunk

He sounds off on pollution and photographs well, but can a 'Corrie' star win a Tory safe seat?

When the news leaked last week that the soap heart-throb Adam Rickitt had been selected by David Cameron as a potential Conservative MP, there was a predictable backlash from right-wing activists. Rickitt is one of the 100 telegenic "super-candidates" on a list that includes the environmental adviser Zac Goldsmith, Margot James, the Tories' first openly lesbian candidate, and the chick-lit novelist Louise Bagshaw.

Rickitt, the 27-year-old former Coronation Street actorbest-known for his "six-pack" stomach, will now be allowed to apply to become a prospective parliamentary candidate in one of the party's most winnable seats. As one disgruntled Tory grandee observed: "You have to be a chisel-cheekboned thirty-something to get on the list."

In fairness, Rickitt has slowly been hatching his political career. He appeared on BBC's Question Time in February and although his agent insisted that "Adam is appearing with no political agenda", it was an open secret he had already been marked as a future Tory candidate. In March it was reported that Rickitt was being groomed to succeed Tory MP Sir Nicholas Winterton, 67, in Macclesfield, Cheshire. Winterton told Conservative Central Office: "I wish Adam luck, but there are no vacancies here." His wife, Ann, the Conservative MP for neighbouring Congleton, told friends: "This will happen over my dead body."

Party chiefs approved of Rickitt's sure-footed performance on Question Time - he even lectured the US about gas emissions. "Everyone at HQ was hugely impressed by his confident and assured style," said a senior Conservative source. "He is exactly the kind of young, dynamic character that David Cameron wants to promote as the face of the party."

If elected, Rickitt would be following in the tradition of such celebrity Tory MPs as Sebastian Coe and Giles Brandreth. But arguably he brings a very different sort of cool. "In contrast to a more crusty breed of Tory MP, he appears more liberal in his attitudes," says Steven Murphy, editor of Inside Soap magazine.

Friends are quick to stress this is no flash-in-the-pan career move. "He has always been incredibly interested in government, having been raised by his family to be as politically aware as possible," says a close friend. "He has often campaigned on local and national issues, and this seems like the most natural next step."

Rickitt's whole career has been about reinventing himself. Although he won fame in a gritty Northern soap opera, he was a public school boy, set to study law at Oxford until he was discovered by Take That's former manager Nigel Martin-Smith. After a brief stint as an underwear model, his acting career was launched in 1998, at the age of 19, cast as Nick Tilsley in Coronation Street.

He caused a sensation with his beefcake physique and blonde floppy hair, soap's first boy band-style star. "He really was a product of the Neighbours/Home and Away/Hollyoaks way of working, where you pick someone the audience could fancy and then check if they can act..." says Murphy. "Coronation Street was going through a lot of change. EastEnders was beating them in the ratings because they were perceived as a little bit cooler, and Adam was put in to try and grab some of that audience."

Rickitt quit after only 16 months. "They probably thought I was off my trolley," he acknowledged. "A job like that is fantastic; it gives you security. On the down side, I was only a young guy. I hadn't experienced anything else in the business. I wasn't married. I don't have kids. It wasn't too traumatic to leave."

He enjoyed a moderately successful pop career with three hit singles and an album, but claims he grew disillusioned by the shallow music world. He reinvented himself as theatre actor in the musical Rent, causing a minor storm by appearing bare-chested on the cover of gay magazine Attitude. But he has always been unashamedly metrosexual and seems to enjoy being a gay icon.

"I'm straight and very comfortable with that," he told one reporter. The tabloids claim his bed-hopping past gave Tory party chiefs some concern. Rickitt admits he dated so many female fans he lost count. Corrie babe Samia Smith is reported to have shared his bed as has his former Rent co-star Jane Doyle. Rickitt himself insists he is a true romantic.

"I think when you're born, your soul is split into two and given to your perfect partner. When you see each other you'll be with each other for ever."

The youngest of four brothers, Adam Peter Rickitt (a self-confessed mummy's boy) was born in 1978. He followed his brothers to Sedbergh School in Cumbria (despite being once suspended for drunkenly peeing on a housemaster's chair). He passed five A-levels, but an injury put paid to a rugby career - and temporarily made him bulimic. "I was so depressed my rugby dreams were gone that I'd shove food in my mouth until I could hardly move - then I'd go and be sick."

He was already a pin-up: the local girls' school co-opted him as a model for their GCSE fashion show. However, Rickitt kept his desire to be an actor secret. "I was accepted at Cambridge to study law, but the day I got my results I told my dad what I really wanted to do. His jaw virtually hit the floor."

There is an honourable tradition of soap stars making the leap to serious acting. Michelle Collins and Tamzin Outhwaite have became two of TV's most bankable stars, while Daniela Denby-Ashe shone in North and South. So why has Rickitt found the leap harder? "I think the problem for Adam was he learned on the job in front of millions of viewers," says Murphy. "With all due respect he wasn't that great an actor when he started. He got there, but it took a while."

Rickitt found himself drifting back to Coronation Street (his last major appearance was in 2004). More recently he has carved out a career as a reality TV star. As well as C4's The Games, he took part in Five's Alive: Back to the Andes, in which a group of C-listers recreated the feats of survivors from the Andes plane crash.

Whatever the truth behind his impatience to stick with any one job for too long, Rickitt has certainly grown up. "When I came into the business I was very green," he recalls. "The pitfalls are that you're too open and too trusting... you learn to see who your friends are very quickly."

His latest incarnation as one of "Dave's babes" may be his best casting yet, according to Steven Murphy. "Crucially he has that totty factor." Will he encourage younger voters? "There seems to be a lot of apathy among that age group, so it could be something that young people hook on to. You can't have him saying, 'Yeah, everyone's going to have a 20 quid record token and free cider when they're 16 as one of my policies.' But I'm quite sure a pretty, buff-toned boy isn't going to go badly wrong."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the world's leading suppliers and manuf...

Recruitment Genius: Multiple Apprentices Required

£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Apprentices are required to join a privat...

Sauce Recruitment: HR Manager

£40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: This is an exciting opportunity for a HR...

Ashdown Group: Interim HR Manager - 3 Month FTC - Henley-on-Thames

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established organisation oper...

Day In a Page

The super-rich now live in their own Elysium - they breathe better air, and eat better food, when they're not making beans on toast for their kids

The super-rich now live in their own Elysium

They breathe better air, eat better food, take better medicine
A generation of dropouts failed by colleges

Dropout generation failed by colleges

£800m a year wasted on students who quit courses before they graduate
Entering civilian life 'can be like going into the jungle' for returning soldiers

Homeless Veterans appeal

Entering civilian life can be like going into the jungle
Sam Taylor-Johnson: Woman on top

Sam Taylor-Johnson: Woman on top

Fifty Shades of Grey director on bringing the hit to the screen
Shazam! Story of the $1bn 'what's that song?' app

Shazam: Story of the $1bn 'what's that song?' app

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch