Reality TV star Jake Quickenden is no stranger to the limelight, flying the Lincolnshire flag on our screens and stages for 10 years now – but among the multitude of avenues his career has gone down so far, one thing has remained a constant: he’s still the same Jake.
Jake Quickenden, 34, was born in Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire, first coming to the nation’s attention in 2012 as he made it to judge’s houses on series nine of ITV singing competition The X Factor.
He would again audition for The X Factor two years later, this time making it to the live shows before he was voted off in week three of the studio performances – though his time on television would go from strength to strength soon after.
That same year, 2014, he was a late entrant in hit ITV reality show I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! where his genuine nature shone through and he earned the respect of the public; finishing runner-up to winner Carl Fogarty.
In 2018 the Scunthorpe-born personality demonstrated his skills on Dancing On Ice, winning the series alongside German professional figure skater Vanessa Bauer.
Since then he has appeared on Ninja Warrior UK and Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins, as well as playing a semi-regular role on soap opera Hollyoaks in 2019.
Jake’s representation of the county of Lincolnshire is clear for all to see. He is currently the star of Lincoln New Theatre Royal’s Cinderella pantomime, he was a special guest at the 2022 Lincoln Christmas Market, and there is even a gritter lorry named after him in North Lincolnshire.
He calls Jake Grittenden “the highest achievement of his life” in a tongue-in-cheek fashion, but while it raised a few laughs at the time, he reflects on the gesture with pride as his local area recognises him in some capacity.
“Obviously it’s funny but for me to be recognised in my local area as someone who could have that, it is quite nice when you think about it. It shows that people kind of realise I’ve been around for 10 years and I’m still kicking around.
“It’s been pretty cold recently so it must have been out on the roads, people are sending me photos when they see it which is class.”
Being authentic on social media
Jake’s television appearances helped him amass over one million Instagram followers, with whom he shares the best and worst of his life in the spotlight.
He told The Lincolnite about the dangers of false perceptions on social media, and how important it is to be transparent about your feelings, particularly when you have a platform this size.
“Social media comes with its ups and downs, obviously you can get a lot of hate but I think the world is just angry at the minute, so if they need to take it out on me, then that’s better than doing something else stupid – is just let it be.
“I like posting my stories and showing people my life. I always try to show people the good and the bad, because it comes with a bit of responsibility now.
“I think if you have a platform you can’t just use it for yourself, it’s important to also use it for good. I’ve done stuff on grief recently and talk a lot about my anxieties on there. I think anyone who performs on stage has got a certain amount of anxiety.
“It’s important to be open because you don’t just want to show the good part of your life because people then see that and think everything’s amazing – life’s hard for everyone and it’s important to show that properly.”
Discussing The Lincolnite‘s Person of the Year 2022 title, Jake said: “I always knew it was coming! No seriously it’s great, obviously I’m proud to be a Lincolnshire lad from just down the road in Scunthorpe.
“I always want to represent myself and where I’m from and I’ve obviously done that, which is great. For me, getting on the TV and doing that stuff isn’t the be all and end all, being a decent person is the most important thing.”
Pantomime Jake and the newfound joys of being “boring”
In recent years Jake adopted the role of local king of the pantomime, starring in the New Theatre Royal’s last two festive productions and making it six consecutive years doing panto across the country.
“I like being on stage and performing”, he said. “Pantos are always fun, they’re getting a bit different for me now that I’ve got my own family so I don’t know how many more I’ve got in me. My son is two now and it’s getting to those years where I want to be at home with him.
“I love just being at home with the kids. I hate going out now really, I like sitting with a cup of tea watching a film on Netflix, eating some nice food and spending time with my family. I guess you could say I’m quite boring these days.”
Jake’s description of his typical day is a far cry from his perception from The X Factor and beyond. He was labelled a heartthrob and a bit of a bad boy during his early time on reality television, a stigma he says took years to shake off.
“I think I got portrayed as that person on The X Factor and it’s taken me a long time to move on from it. To be fair, my early years on social media I did post a lot of posey stuff because I wanted to show the best of everything I had.
“As I’ve got older I have realised none of that stuff is really important anymore, and I’ve tried to shake that previous opinion of myself ever since.
“I think when people meet me they realise that’s not who I am at all, I think there’s a misconception of me being big-headed or stuck up, but giving somebody time out of my day for selfies or a chat is the most important thing.”
The importance of being happy
Jake is, by admission, quite a “lazy” person who always used to tell himself that things would work out in the end. He was unemployed during his late teens, but he says that while fame has given him unimaginable things, it hasn’t been the key to his happiness.
He said: “I used to joke with my mum because she’d tell me I need to think about what I want to do, as I was just sat around in the house, in and out of work as a bricklayer here and there. I always used to tell her not to worry about me and that it would all work itself out in the end.
“If I was still in that position I reckon I’d be as happy as I am now, I maybe wouldn’t get some of the opportunities I get nowadays but I don’t think it would make me miserable – I’m always just the same old Jake.
“I never really expected to do as well as I have out of this, but I guess that’s down to the public being nice and getting behind me. I guess I just thought I’d give The X Factor a go, get voted out and head back home! 10 years later and here I am.”
Jake Quickenden’s mental health advocacy, his consistent television roles, the pride in which he represents his local area, his new-found passion and skill as a pantomime star, and his down-to-earth nature irregardless of who he is around, are just some of the reasons why he has been named as The Lincolnite‘s Person of the Year for 2022.
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