HE HAS sold 14 million records, toured with Britney Spears and will take to the stage alongside Kylie and Jason at Hyde Park next month.
But Steps singer Lee Latchford Evans, 37, says the person who gave him the push he needed to pursue a life of fame was a nurse at Sutton High School.
“June Bennett had a son who was a professional actor,” said Lee.
“She gave me the courage to go forward and do it.”
Lee had been an impressive footballer, even having trials for Wimbledon FC, but his life took a different course after he was asked to audition for a school production of Grease.
“I auditioned and got the lead role of Danny,” said Lee.
After attending Sutton High School, he studied musical theatre at The Cheshire School of Dance and Drama – now West Cheshire College – and moved south in 1994 to study at Laine Theatre Arts in Epsom.
But Lee’s career in entertainment did not get off to a flying start, with an emotional beginning at Rossmore Infants School.
He said: “I remember being King Herod in a nativity play and coming home crying saying I didn’t want to be the one who killed Jesus!
“When I was old enough I realised I did want to do this as a career.”
Lee starred on the West End, in films and at the Edinburgh Fringe festival during Steps’ 10-year hiatus, as well as setting up his own fitness brand, famouslyfit.com.
But last year the 90s pop sensations returned. The group re-formed last May for a TV documentary series titled Steps: The Reunion before releasing their second greatest hits album, which shot to number one.
Lee added: “We had to air all the problems that people want to know about.
“Then Sony said they were going to release the greatest hits again regardless of whether we wanted to or not, so we wanted to be involved.
“Then the tour sold out overnight.
“I was shocked. Who would buy a greatest hits album they’ve already got? I wouldn’t.
“The response we had on the tour was unbelievable. You are the puppet master. That’s what they’re there to see. They just want to be entertained and have fun.
“The Government is not up to scratch. There’s a recession. People want to go out, enjoy the night and let their hair down.”
A host of shows next month will take in gigs at Deeside College, Northop and Haydock Racecourse. They will also star in Hit Factory Live at Hyde Park, where 1980s stars of the Stock, Aitken, Waterman stable will sing – including a highly anticipated rendition of Especially For You by a reunited Kylie and Jason.
Lee said: “It’s nice to be near my hometown, when I can see a few mates and catch up with family. Some friends I haven’t seen for five-10 years and I only get to see my family three or four times a year.
“I’ve said it all along – all the crowds are fantastic but the more north you get the crazier they are!”
Lee was given the middle name Latchford by his Everton-supporting dad, in honour of the legendary Bob Latchford. He used it more when he found fame, to distinguish him from comedian Lee Evans.
Steps are considering releasing a Christmas album this year.