HE played a killer in Harry’s Game, and an Apostle in Jesus Christ Superstar.
Now, Chris Walne is tackling one of his toughest roles yet – hotel manager.
The Chequers Plaza Hotel’s new manager has a secret theatrical past that started back in 1978 when his cameo role in gritty Northern Ireland-based three-part drama Harry’s Game saw him shoot and kill the lead role Harry.
The 51-year-old, now in charge of the Queen’s Promenade hotel, later appeared in soaps Coronation Street and Emmerdale.
Mr Walne said, “It was just a stage in my career when I seemed to be cast as a killer, but I’ve appeared in many biblical rock musicals so I’m not really a bad guy.”
Now Chris is hoping his flair for the theatrical will help transform the Chequers Plaza hotel.
After years appearing on the bill alongside top celebrities under the stage name Chris Byrne, he moved into the hospitality and leisure industry “by complete accident” at the age of 31, spending nine years with Scottish and Newcastle before helping transform Blackpool Tower as its ballroom and events manager.
He was later appointed general manager for two major hotel chains that focused on conferences and banqueting. He has similar grand plans for Chequers Plaza Hotel.
Chris said: “There’s an opportunity at Chequers Plaza to re-establish it as one of the best quality and economy hotels in the resort. We have a committed team here who I am proud of, who want Chequers to become number one and that’s our goal.”
The team consists of head of sales and reservations Judith Kirby who has more than 20 years’ experience as general manager and revenue manager at major hotels in the resort; guest services manager Robert Evans, who trained with De Vere Hotels; revenue controller Jill Threlfall and head chef John Hawthorne.
Chris’s acting and singing career started at an extremely early age. At 13 he became the youngest person ever to headline a performance at Dartmoor Prison where he encouraged inmates to sing a rousing version of “Bless This House”.
And at the age of 16 he turned professional entertainer, supporting Les Dawson, Lulu and Ken Dodd on the UK cabaret circuit, before recording three albums.