All musicals have a core of dedicated fans – many of whom watch ‘their chosen’ show more than is normal,Â at least from an economic perspective. Billy Elliot has a legion of such devotees calling themselves the Billy Elliot Forum. Over the years of Tom doing the show, I encountered many such members and never felt any need to be worried. The lazy way to consider such people is that they are all deviants, especially since the show features so many children. A sweeping statement and in my opinion, wrong. In my view and having met many of them, they are just people wanting a common interest and a feeling of belonging and probably a little bit of show-biz star dust as well.
They certainly love the show and venerate anyone appearing on the boards and in particular the young stars. They would wait outside the show parties to all hours and in all-weather to catch a glimpse and possibly a photo or something signed – and a good thing too – because they gave us many lovely photos of Tom fromÂ the show that we now cherish and indeed, appear in my book, Eclipsed.
One such member is Spencer – who must have seen Tom play Billy more times than I could have afforded to.
Last weekend, Tom headed to Cambridge to see his old mate, Fox Jackson Keane in a production called I WAS A RAT – based on the book by Philip Pullman. Fox was a Billy with Tom and they have remained close. Anyway, it seems that Spencer is now following Fox as his show travels the UK – and sitting in the stalls at the Saturday matinee, who should Spencer find himself sitting next to?
But Tom Holland.
You think that this would have been aÂ great coup for Spencer – a captive audience with a hero of his – but what was beautiful was that Spencer didn’t recognise Tom at all. They got chatting and Spencer happily explained that he was a fan of Fox – going on to explain that Fox had once played Billy Elliot in London. It must have crossed Tom’s mind to stay quiet until he reasonedÂ that revealing himself would make Spencer’s day.
Spencer was delighted. Tom less so. But it’s a happy tale and one I am happy to share.