Layton Williams’ year in TV: ‘Someone once mistook me for Ncuti Gatwa. Come on people, try harder!’

by 24britishtvMay 11, 2024, 8 p.m. 21
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An actor, dancer and presenter, Layton Williams, 29, reached the finals of Strictly Come Dancing in 2023, and was the first male contestant to dance in drag. He was a child star on the West End stage, taking the role of Billy Elliott at the age of 12. He is best known on TV for starring in Bad Education, and also narrated the first series of the gay dating show I Kissed a Boy.

How has life changed since Strictly?

The best way to explain it is, when I’m out and about on the street, before I would have had the child of the family clocking me, but now it’s the whole family. The mums and the nans, and the dads and the grandads, they’re just into it.

You didn’t have the mums and the nans before?

Not really. They weren’t falling over me in the streets. And now they are! I walked down my high street today, and they just came and squeezed my hand like, “You’re the dancer, aren’t you? You’re lovely.” It’s been really heartwarming. Because, you know, at some points I did think, “Have I made the right decision? Is this having a positive effect or a negative one?” But the love is just so real.

On balance, then, positive?

Oh, 100%. I don’t regret a thing. I’m so glad I did the show. For many reasons it was necessary, for myself and potentially for others, which I wasn’t expecting. At the core of things, I was just doing a dance show, and going out there every Saturday night to dance and learn something new. And spread a lot of love, too.

Speaking of spreading the love, you were the I Kissed a Boy narrator …

Oh my God – the boys were hilarious and very entertaining. It was really smartly done. It was classy. I loved it. Hopefully we’ll get another series. News on that, come on! Yearly gigs, please! I need to get my money all the way up. They’re doing a girls’ version!

Are you narrating that one?

No. I bumped into the producer the other day though, and he said it is looking unreal. And the girls are bringing the drama as well.

Which TV show gripped you the most?

I’ve not finished it, so no spoilers, but One Day. And Big Boys. I’m a huge Jack Rooke fan, absolutely obsessed with him.

Who would play you on TV?

Obviously, I can’t say myself. It would be quite fun to see Will Smith try and be a queen, wouldn’t it? Or, do you know what, give RuPaul a chance!

Have you ever been mistaken for somebody else?

Oh, for God’s sake, yeah. I had someone congratulate me on being the new Doctor Who. Someone in the industry came over at an awards show and had a full-blown conversation with me. I was like, “What is she talking about?” She went away and then it clicked. I thought, “Oh my gosh, she thinks I’m Ncuti Gatwa.” Like, come on. It’s just so boring. I mean, I get the Sex Education/Bad Education situation, maybe. But no, I’m sorry – we could not look any more different. And I’m a fan, love him to bits. Come on, people. Try harder.

What’s your comfort watch?

I love Gogglebox. Get me on Gogglebox, I’d have such a good time. Obsessed with The Traitors. We had a real-life game in Strictly, and it spanned across a month, and I won. It ended up with me, Nikita [Kuzmin – Williams’ dance partner] and Carlos [professional dancer Carlos Gu], and I basically played Nikita, like, “Nikita, I wouldn’t lie to you.” Claudia [Strictly and The Traitors presenter Claudia Winkleman] did us a video and everything. It was so fun.

Last time TV made you cry?

One Day. When they went for a meal together and he was acting all big‑headed, I turned to my boyfriend and said, “I don’t ever sound like that, do I?” Honestly, some of the things he was saying, I would say! I said, “Oh my God, please humble me and tell me if I ever sound like him.”

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