In Britain, his clutch of pantomime performances alongside the likes of Barbara Windsor and Martine McCutcheon not withstanding, Ross Antony is a virtual unknown. But in Germany, his home for the past decade, he is the hottest property in showbusiness.
This week, the 33-year-old from Bridgnorth, Shropshire is sifting through an avalanche of offers after winning the German-version of I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here!. Antony, also known as Catterrall, said yesterday he was inspired by the recent performance of Christopher Biggins in winning the UK version of the show.
Antony beat his fellow celebrities including Gina Wild, a porn star, and Ike Immel, a former Manchester City goalkeeper, to emerge with the €30,000 (£22,000) prize, in the hugely popular Ich Bin Ein Star, Holt Mich Hier Raus!
He said: "I'm gobsmacked, I can't believe I have won – it was an amazing experience. Why did they choose an English guy? I think it was because I showed my emotions. The Germans are quite hard; they went through everything but didn't show their feelings but there I was blubbing my heart out from the beginning.
"They are a nation of very strong people. Put me in the middle of them and you can see the difference immediately. Even the girls were stronger than I was."
The worst of his tasks, he said, was to enter a pen full of emus whilst covered in food, leaving him pecked and nursing dozens of wounds. "It was like being stabbed with a knife," he recalled, admitting that, by the third day, it had all nearly got too much and was only talked into staying by fellow contestants.
Video courtesy of www.ross-antony.com
His rise to fame has been steady and he insists his career was still on the up when he agreed to appear in the show. After an education at the Guildhall School of Acting for Music, Dance and Drama, he bagged roles in musicals across Germany in the late 90s, including Joseph and Hair, before auditioning for the German version of the reality TV show Popstars.
From there, he beat thousands to be recruited to join Bro'Sis, one of Germany's biggest-selling bands of recent years, who as well as shifting 4.5 million records scored No 1 hits in Austria and Switzerland. He has also published an autobiography, The Inside Me.
But his pinnacle of popularity – until now – came when he starred in Ross and Paul In Love, a reality soap detailing the build-up to his 2006 wedding to the opera singer Paul Reeves.
"We are now the most prominent gay pair in Germany," he said. "We get to go to all the major parties and invited on all the top TV shows."
The German public and media have embraced his sexuality. "I've never had any problems here. There have been loads of articles about Paul and I and people seem to think we are a great couple and good representatives of the gay community – we are not walking down the street snogging all the time," he said.Reuse content