Prince Charming has the X-Factor

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Christopher Maloney became something of a household name two years ago, as a finalist in the 2012 series of The X Factor.

Controversy surrounded his departure from the show, when he was the third-placed contestant - only just failing to reach the very end of the show in a two-part final.

Over night, after he was voted out, national newspapers reported he had had a drunken meltdown backstage and walked out of rehearsals for the final night’s group performances.

This weekend, as the show’s class of 2014 prepare their own final songs, he will be taking to the stage at the Marine Hall, playing Prince Charming in pantomime Cinderella - a character perhaps a little at odds to the persona created by the tabloids?

And he admits the closing stages of the contest were a difficult time.

“It was tough, towards the end but I do look back in it fondly now,” he said.

“It was more media persecution than anything else, which isn’t fair. The big tabloids don’t care whether it’s lies or not - and you can’t stop them doing that.

“But I’m glad to see Mel B on the show and Cheryl back. Tulisa should remember where she came from in the beginning rather than making a couple of million and forgetting - but it’s come back to her now,” he added, in reference to the ex-NDubz star’s recent court case.

The former call centre worker has been keeping track on this year’s show, and will be straight onto catch-up TV after Saturday night’s performance to watch the final of the ITV talent show.

“I am looking forward to seeing the final,” he said. “Although it’s going to be really weird as I sing What A Feeling in the pantomime, which was one of my songs in the X Factor final - exactly two years ago to the night, when I’ll be singing in Fleetwood.

“That’s pretty surreal.

“My three favourites through the series have been Andrea, Fleur East and Lauren, and I think the winner, undoubtedly, will be Fleur. Andrea has been brilliant, but he gave too much right from the beginning, so there’s no surprise later on in the series. We all know he’s going to sing big power ballads, really well.”

Christopher and the rest of the cast spent last weekend performing in his home city of Liverpool - as a ‘warm up, dress rehearsal’ for Fleetwood.

“It was fabulous in Liverpool,” he said. “The crowd has been brilliant.

“It’s the first time I’ve done panto in Liverpool, usually I’ve been in other parts of the country, so I had lots of friends and family in. They saw me last year in panto too, and said it’s a much better show this time.

“We’re looking forward to bringing the show to Fleetwood now, I can’t wait. I’ve performed at Pride and for the Christmas lights in Blackpool, but this is the first full show I will have done in that area.”

And he revealed he’s expecting to be back in town in 2015, with a show at North Pier during Easter and dates lined up for a one-man tour too, working with Joe Longthorne’s manager Jamie Moran and musical director Andy Mudd - look out for details in the new year.

* Cinderella, Marine Hall, Fleetwood, Thursday to Sunday, various times. Call (01253) 887693 for tickets, priced £8.