Coronation Street’s Jack P Shepherd set hearts racing as he visited Sheffield’s Crystal Peaks to switch on the Christmas lights.
The soap star, better known as Weatherfield bad boy David Platt, was greeted by piercing shrieks and a galaxy of smartphones held aloft as he arrived at the shopping centre yesterday evening.
Fans jostled for a glimpse of the actor, whose long-running role as the ‘lovable rogue’ has made him a somewhat unlikely heart-throb.
He spoke about his harrowing recent plotline on the ITV drama, which saw David’s wife Kylie stabbed to death before he sparked a fireball as he sought to avenge her death.
“I was in tears for about three weeks. We were doing 12-hour days and it was very emotional,” he told Hallam FM drive time presenter Simon Morykin on stage.
He also revealed how he loathes adopting the menacing glare which has become his trademark when David’s mean side comes to the fore.
“It doesn’t come natural and I hate doing that look. I hate it,” he said.
Jack flicked the switch at 7pm, before posing for a selfie with the screaming hordes. He then hung around to meet fans and sign autographs.
Corrie fans Rachel Daniels, aged 44, from Chesterfield, and her 10-year-old daughter Jodiesue said they were excited to see Jack in the flesh as David was someone they ‘love to hate’.
Carole Compson, 67, of Frecheville, Sheffield,said he ‘makes the show’, while Julie Churm, 52, from Kiveton Park, said: “I know he’s young but he’s sexy. He’s a lovable rogue.”
Gemma Smith, 33, from Beighton, who was there with her children Sienna, three, Saphire, nine, and Junior, 11, said David was their favourite character.
Asked to sum up his appeal, Saphire needed just two words – ‘he’s cool’.
Jack’s appearance capped an evening of festive entertainment, with hundreds gathering beneath the garlands to join in the fun.
They enjoyed music from Birley Spa School Choir and pupils at Westfield School, plus other acts like local boy Alfie Sheard and Goldthorpe-based band The Harringtons.
Santa’s elves mingled with shoppers, a lucky few of whom were invited on stage to compete for up to £1,000 in the nerve-shredding Beat the Bell competition.
Hannah, aged 45, from Mosborough, and her son Freddie, eight, summed up the appeal for many of those present, describing the event as a seasonal tradition, before which ‘Christmas has not truly arrived’.