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    5. 'Harry Styles' looks, Michael Caine's voice': why Bobby Brazier is ..


    'Harry Styles' looks, Michael Caine's voice': why Bobby Brazier is the real Strictly winner

    “He has the most beautiful face”: Bobby Brazier Photo: Ray Bermiston/BBC

    Dust has barely settled on the Strictly dance floor. Indeed, the Elstree Studios team will no doubt be sweeping confetti from under chairs for days to come. But as actress Ellie Leach and her professional partner Vito Coppola celebrate their victory in Sunday's final, it was one of the two Strictly runners-up who emerged as the real star of the show. EastEnders actor Bobby Brazier, who has been compared to Michelangelo's David, is being touted as the new Harry Styles and is predicted to earn millions of pounds within months.

    At just 20 years old, the lanky Brazier has delighted fans with his impressive dancing, work ethic, innate modesty and charming smile. The fact that the former model looked like a Greek god and had what judge Craig Revel Horwood called “Jagger's swagger” only helped. Sir Michael Caine is said to have remarked to Loose Women's Denise Welch over dinner recently that the young man “reminds me of me”. The brazier emits a quiet noise – the last word of the year according to Oxford University Press, meaning romantic attraction and charisma.

    Jagger hips. Personality of Cain. Abundant robe. Brazier, who grew up in Essex, may have lost out on the glitterati trophy but experts say his future is extremely bright. Although Leach, 22, was a fantastic dancer, as was fellow finalist Leighton Williams, 29, who has already enjoyed a successful career as a West End performer, it is Brazier who appears to be having his “moment”. They talk about Hollywood films and important roles in the West End.

    Dame Arlene Phillips, who was a high security judge from 2004 to 2008, is stunned. “When I first looked at him – and I didn't really know him until I saw him on Strictly – I saw his face and his height and it reminded me of the moment I saw the sculpture of David in Florence. This suddenly stopped me. I can’t even explain it,” she tells me. “It was like suddenly being immersed in warmth and wonder at seeing something so beautiful. I remember looking at his face and thinking, “You are made in such a way that people will want to draw and photograph and sculpt,” because he has the most beautiful face that he uses to tell stories.”

    < img src ="/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/d36e3b79cab38f3147adeed94ad47444.jpg" />

    West End producers agree. “Bobby has what we call ‘light’: he lights up [the room]. If that's not true, he's a damn good actor,” says Nika Burns, co-owner of the Nimax theater group, whose current shows include “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” and “Six.” “He has an honesty and a realism about him. He wears his heart on his sleeve and it's a pretty sweet heart. And people reacted to it.”

    Part of Brazier's appeal is his obvious ability to learn new things. “We have a very young performer here. He's only 20 and hasn't done much yet, but he's already gone from modeling to being on EastEnders and has now learned a whole new skill in a very short space of time. He clearly really worked on it. He changed over the weeks, but the result was an absolutely charming person,” says Burns.

    Brazier demonstrated remarkable consistency; he was the only contestant whose scores had not dropped below 30 since week three (with the exception of Amanda Abbington, who bowed out of Strictly Come Dancing in October). “He's clearly hard-working and easy to train,” says Burns, who says the camera loves him. “He communicated with the camera and with the audience… The possibilities are enormous.” However, she adds that we have yet to find out if he can sing, and we have yet to see his full acting range.

    'He stood out': Brazier celebrates on Strictly Credit: Guy Levy

    Phillips believes Brazier is on the cusp of something great. “I think fame is alluring because he is a very extraordinarily handsome person. It's the look in his eyes. I'm not surprised people talk about him as a star or a trip to Hollywood, because imagine that face blown up on a giant screen. It's like looking into a puddle of water. I know it sounds funny,” she says.

    Branding experts are already comparing Brazier to global celebrities—at least potentially. “He has star quality in buckets. “He's a rare breed of talent who could be as great as Timothée Chalamet or Harry Styles,” says Nick Ede, a brand and pop culture commentator. Harry Styles? Really? “They both have this look that young people like, mothers like, guys like, they don't really turn anyone off, and they have a unique ability to make people happy. You watch Bobby Brazier dance and feel joy – no matter if you hate dancing. It’s the same with Harry Styles,” says Ede.

    Part of the appeal comes from Brazier's backstory. His mother was Jade Goody, a reality TV star who died of cervical cancer in 2009, and his father was TV presenter Jeff Brazier. People feel like they know his story. Perhaps they feel protective of him too. “They saw him grow up without a mother and they saw what a great father Jeff was. But he was never Nepo's child. He really stands out with his talent,” says Ede.

    Bobby Brazier (right) with Clay Milner in Eastenders Credit. : BBC

    Of course, Strictly has created West End stars out of its contestants before. Jill Halfpenny won a second series of Strictly in 2004 and went on to play Roxie Hart in the West End production in Chicago. Tom Chambers was a Holby City actor before winning the dance competition in 2008. He then played the title role in the musical Top Hat at the Aldwych Theatre. Danny Mac, a 2016 finalist, went on to appear in Sunset Boulevard and Pretty Woman: The Musical, while Ore Oduba, that year's winner, appeared in Grease and Curtains. But according to Burns, there has never been a vintage year like this one, with all three finalists – Brazier, Leach and Williams – displaying such dancing ability.

    “Tom Chambers was a soap opera actor who became a stage star. He played Fred Astaire in Top Hat and went on to become a bona fide ticket-selling star of the West End musical. Danny Mac now regularly stars in musicals; he's a serious West End contender. But this year it's about all three, isn't it? For the first time, we have three people in their twenties who just took advantage of every second of their opportunity. We have three exciting young stars who are in for a long time to come,” says Burns.

    That he seems to outshine Williams, a frighteningly good dancer, speaks volumes about the buzz surrounding Brazier. Phillips says Williams' dancing has taken Strictly into bold new choreographic territory.

    All to play for: will Brazier make it through to the cinema? Photo: Guy Levy

    But his sheer dancing ability may have been a shortcoming in the voters' minds from the start; Williams starred in the musical Billy Elliot at age 12 and most recently played the title role in Everybody's Talking About Jamie. However, now he will deservedly receive even larger roles. “Layton is a fierce hard worker,” says Burns, who worked with him for many years. “He's been around for quite some time and he's much better known now. Layton has very interesting potential. Perhaps he is ready to take on more serious roles.”

    The winner of the Lich can also expect huge offers. According to Phillips, she combined risk and technique with sparkling dance. Although the climactic, bold lift of Leach's final dance didn't work (she swayed on Coppola's shoulders and broke up the movement), the fact that she tried endeared her to the audience. “Ellie has a warmth that could warm up any home at Christmas,” says the former judge. “All three won.”

    But everyone is talking about Brazier. What he is doing now? The trick is to not rush into the next stage of your career, experts say. The coming months will be full of meetings to determine his future direction. Brazier seems to be surrounded by sensible people, most notably his father, and so he will listen to good advice.

    Strictly speaking: Diane Buswell and Brazier perform in the finals. Photo: Guy Levy/BBC

    But how rich can he get? Very much, says Ede, especially if he returns to modeling again. “If he does a deal with a big brand, you're looking at at least half a million to three quarters of a million [pounds] for it. And then if he gets a new job – be it a Hollywood film, an advertising contract or a leading role in the West End – then within the next few years he will become a millionaire,” says Ede.

    And how exactly? Is this talk of success in Hollywood realistic? What are the odds of our own David taking on the Goliaths across the pond? Michael Pagnotta is an American artist manager and former publicist for Prince and George Michael. He tells me there is no “set formula” when it comes to breaking British talent into the American market.

    “It all comes down to the people around you—people who understand your appeal, your goals, and your market—as well as patience, a thick skin, good timing, and a lot of luck,” says Pagnotta. He adds that some people who become huge stars here simply don't make it in the States, no matter how talented they are. “For every George Michael and Harry Styles, there’s a Robbie Williams.”

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