Alumni spotlight: Steve Mitchell
As the inevitable ad-breaks come on during your favourite TV programmes this week, you could be forgiven for thinking that the face of a young man, seen staring intently at the screen of a laptop in a current commercial, looks vaguely familiar.... and you would be right.
Former Withernsea High School student Steve Mitchell is back in the spotlight once again as the face of yet another national advertising campaign, this time for PC manufacturer, PC Specialist.
Steve’s first foray in to TV advertising came 3 years ago when he featured as the main protagonist in a hugely successful advert for dating website Match.com. The advert saw him standing on the platform of a railway station, trying to grab the attention of a young lady on the opposite side by playing a Ukulele and singing an improvised song to her - a standard sight on the railway platforms of Great Britain(!) Of course in TV-land the guy always gets the girl, and lo-and-behold a few strums of the Ukulele were enough for him to achieve this. Sadly, in reality he’d have probably been ushered away by the transport police and been made to apply for a busking licence!
The advert, officially titled “She began to dance" but more commonly known as “Girl on the platform smiled”, quickly became a national talking point, with the insanely catchy melody of the song getting firmly lodged in the heads of the nation, inspiring various cover versions by other artists on YouTube. Steve, along with the actress from the advert, reprised their roles to star in the official music video for the song, released by its writer Matthew P in the wake of the success of the advert . Click here to watch the video
Here is the original
However, Steve’s career so far is not all about leading roles in advertising campaigns. With appearances in numerous short films and music videos under his belt, including an up-coming role in Maximo Park’s new video, he is also busy touring the world as a vocalist in 'The Ragdolls' - a tribute band / theatre show which takes audiences on a musical journey through the career of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons.
Steve, second from the right, performing onstage with The Ragdolls.
Steve’s successes to date are the rewards of a talent that has been honed since his school days and backed up by an impressive work ethic and relentless determination to succeed. His commitment to attending every audition possible, which has resulted in the majority of the work he has found so far, is the best proof needed that hard work and persistence really do pay off. Opportunities are out there in all areas of life, but you need to go out there and find them as they rarely come to you.
We recently caught up with Steve to ask him about his time at Withernsea High School and to find out how his education here helped get him started on the path to his chosen career.
What memories do you have of your time at Withernsea High School?
"Lots of priceless memories were made because of the many great teachers, friends and classes.
I was in the “popular crowd” at school and being involved in theatre or plays wasn’t the obvious first choice for me! But myself and some of the rugby boys decided it would be fun to audition for roles as gang-members in Bugsy Malone [2003's school production]. After being involved with that show and enjoying it, I auditioned the following year for Grease and landed the lead role of Danny Zuko. I loved every minute of it!
I used to love athletics and despite my small size I would often compete in the high jump, 100m and 4 x 100m relay at Costello stadium, where I represented the school. I'll never forget coming joint 2nd for high jump and everybody else looked as tall as Gandalf whereas I had Bilbo’s hobbit height!
Many other fond memories of school came from Music with Mr Keith. I didn't find my love for music until I was 14, but by this point I had already chosen my GCSE subjects. However, this didn't stop me from taking full advantage of the facilities and recording studio. I soon became a regular in the music area (more than many of the pupils that took music) and with some friends; Sam Morfitt, Paul Blyth, Adam Atkinson, Joe Cooper and Chris Frost, I recorded several cover songs and also wrote original material with them as well.
I spent almost every second of my free time between lessons, before and after school in the music room and I now play several instruments. If you are a current pupil at the school and are musically minded, get in there and use what WHS has to offer whilst it's there because it's not a cheap hobby if you decide to learn later in life."
Who or what inspired you at school; who or what was the greatest influence?
"A teacher who is no longer at the school [Kerry Grantham, née Green, a former head of Performing Arts] set me on the path to the career I now live for. If it wasn't for her advice and guidance, I wouldn't have gone onto further education."
What part did Withernsea High School play in getting you where you are today?
"Without the help of this great school I wouldn't have had the skills to go onto further education or get a well paid job. I had my moments of being the class clown, but I still managed to knuckle down and get the work done!"
Please tell us about your education since leaving Withernsea High School
"After leaving at the end of Year 11, I went to Hull College to study Musical Theatre for 2 years. After this I went on to do 3 years at The Arden School of Theatre (Manchester College) where I studied Musical Theatre Professional Stage Practice.
Those 5 years went so fast but I met even more great friends, got taught by some amazing teachers and made many more memories which are now part of my life."
Please tell us any interesting facts about yourself. Any claims to fame? Any personal achievements that you’re particularly proud of?
"Aside from all the theatres and venues I have performed at in the UK and abroad, millions of people have heard me sing and seen me on the TV stood at a train station singing to a girl in the Match.com advert. I'm also currently in a commercial for PC Specialist sat on a sofa with a laptop. I've appeared in several music videos and short films and have had more near misses than hot dinners! But that's the nature of my profession and it gives me an exciting life."
What advice would you pass on to our students today?
"Everybody excels in different subjects, so do what I did and learn which ones work best for you.
I went from Year 7 to 11 not knowing what I wanted to do when I left, but this didn't make a difference because everything fell into place for me through the help of my teachers.
By listening to your teachers and by not distracting others every second of every class, you will open more doors for career options. But if you want a paper-round for the rest of your life, don't listen to your teachers, distract your friends and forget your homework!
Everybody wants to have fun but you have to know when to stop because you're not only holding yourself back, you're also holding back the people around you.
Lastly, don't wish your time away because it really does fly by once you leave! I would do anything to go through that time again. They were the best and most important years of my life."
|We wish Steve the very best of luck for everything the future brings and we look forward to keeping you updated with his |
| For more information about The Ragdolls, please follow the links below:|
Official website - Featuring news, tour listings, biography, set list and links to their social media accounts,
Garston entertainment agency - For bookings and general information.