TV star speads his options
PUBLISHED: 16:03 20 April 2009 | UPDATED: 13:31 24 August 2010
by Alex Wellman A blossoming TV soap star is backing up his acting skills by training in a different trade. Leon Ockenden, 31, of Cricklewood, who found fame as Doctor Chris Oakley in ITV s Heartbeat, is now combining his career on the st
by Alex Wellman
A blossoming TV soap star is backing up his acting skills by training in a different trade.
Leon Ockenden, 31, of Cricklewood, who found fame as Doctor Chris Oakley in ITV's Heartbeat, is now combining his career on the stage and screen with learning to be a plasterer.
Leon, who also starred in the Channel Five soap opera Family Affairs, is taking a one-year course in basic plastering at the College of North West London in Dudden Hill Lane, Willesden, in September.
Leon said: "Getting normal work in between jobs is difficult when you are an actor, and I don't enjoy waiting tables. Plastering is very therapeutic and quite soothing, and it's not too far removed from making dough and icing cakes.
"I also chose this trade because I thought I could start earning money more quickly. I definitely want to continue to Level 2 next year, because I love coming to College, although at the moment I am still working part-time in a bakery.
"The College is like a little oasis where I can do something practical, in complete contrast to what I do for a living. The tutors have been brilliant at accommodating me, and the students too have been really supportive."
Last year he played a leading role in the fringe theatre drama Plague Over England during its successful run at the Finborough Theatre, Earl's Court.
He was then offered the chance to reprise his part as a closet gay policeman when the play transferred to the Duchess Theatre in the West End early this year - but he had to cancel his two evenings a week plastering class to attend rehearsals.
He was keen to stay at College until June to finish his qualification, so staff at Dudden Hill Lane, Willesden, invited him to drop in to any class during the day when he could manage it - which he did.
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