ORE Oduba laughs when he speaks about the surprising direction his career has taken since that fateful moment when he first set foot on the Strictly dancefloor in 2016.

“Since Strictly (which Ore won with professional partner Joanne Clifton) it’s been a little different,” he said. “It’s not the template for what people coming out of John Craven’s Newsround usually end up doing that’s for sure.”

From being a respected presenter, Ore has become a musical theatre star in both the West End and around the country. Next week he’s part of a triumphal return for The Rocky Horror Show to Manchester in which he plays super nerd Brad Majors in the cult show.

“I can honestly say that I’ve never been in anything that has genuinely been brought back by popular demand before,” he said. “We were in Manchester at the Opera House in August and we had such a great time. The audiences came in their droves and we left on a real high.

“Now we’ve got the chance to return, this time to the Palace Theatre, so we’re spreading the love around the city.”

Next year The Rocky Horror Show, a rock and roll musical about an innocent couple whose car trouble leaves them stranded at the home of Dr Frank N Furter and a collection of misfits, will celebrate its 50th anniversary.

“Most shows approaching 50 can be forgiven for being a little tired or slightly less relevant,” said Ore. “But I genuinely think that with Rocky things are ramping up and fans are even more excited about it.

“Partly I think that’s because it is just so relevant today. Yes it’s huge fun but it’s also a show about identify and the freedom to be who you are and not being shackled by eternal pressures. I’d love to count myself as a young person but having turned 36, I know where I’m headed but we have seen so many young people in their early 20s who you’d think had no real affinity with the show in the audience and waiting at the stage door.”

With songs like Time Warp, The Rocky Horror Show probably defines the term cult classic. And for Ore it’s been a memorable show to be part of.

“Every single show is different,” he said, “because the audience are that added dimension every night. You might think that having heard Time Warp 48,000 times might I might be tired of it but every time it begins, I still get so excited.

“From my position on stage standing next to the wonderful Hayley Flaherty who plays Janet, I get to watch this great cast and band do their thing and then when we all ‘turn to the left I see another audience on their feet going hell for leather. It really is such an honour to be part of the show.”

Rocky has its diehard supporters and some are familiar faces in the front row wherever the show is playing.

But there are others who are seeing it for the first time.

“Thing thing is with Rocky you should be prepared to leave your inhibitions at the door,” he said. “You can spot the people who are newcomers. It’s a bit like the old Tango advert. They come out of the theatre looking shocked but exhilarated, as though they’ve been Tango-d. But invariably they’ll come back again because they’ve enjoyed themselves so much.”

Ore remains good friends with his Strictly partner Joanne -”we’re both on tour as she’s in the Addams Family so thank goodness for Facetime” - and he credits his dance experience for changing his life.

“I’d always had a passion about performing but Strictly allowed me to believe in myself and reach for it,” he said. “I didn’t want to be looking back thinking ‘I should have given that a shot’.”

Rocky Horror Show, Palace Theatre, Manchester, Tuesday, January 17 to Saturday, January 22. Details from www.atgtickets.com