DARIUS Campbell has come a long way since auditioning for the TV talent show Popstars in which he did his own version of Britney Spear’s Hit Me Baby One More Time.

Sixteen years ago he was on a seemingly endless quest for stardom.

First came that audition and an unsuccessful attempt to reach the final of Popstars which spawned the pop band Hear’say.

Just one year later, Darius was back on our screens finishing third to two other ‘unknowns’ Gareth Gates and Will Young on the first series of Pop Idol.

From that point on, he hasn’t really looked back and in the process has proved himself one of the most versatile of performers.

After all, how many other artists can boast of a number one single, a top 10 album, lead roles in several West End shows and being the producer of successful movie?

Next month Darius, now 36, will be in Manchester starring alongside Sheridan Smith in the show Funny Girl and even with his varied experience, he recognises that with this show he’s part of something special.

He said: “I’m really pleased we are bringing the quality of a West End show on tour and that this is just the best version of it. We are all very proud of it.”

Darius plays gambler Nick Arnstein in the musical which charts the rise of Fanny Brice from musical hall singer to Broadway star.

Darius is full of praise for his co-star Sheridan Smith.

He added: “Her performance she just blows me away every single night. As she always does, she has the audience in the palm of her hand.”

The stage show is based on a movie which made Barbra Streisand and star and which saw Omar Sharif play Nick.

Ironically there is also a personal connection for Darius. His father Booth Danesh was a leading heart surgeon and was often nicknamed Dr Zhivago by his colleagues – the role made famous by Omar Sharif.

Darius appears to have moved seemlessly from pop star. His single Colourblind topped the charts, he has had high profile stage roles in Chicago, Guys and Dolls and Gone with the Wind, he won the TV series Popstar to Opera Star and has now embarked on a movie career, producing Imperium featuring Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe.

“I suppose it’s that kind of variety that keeps things interesting,” he said. “I’ve been really lucky to work with some of my heroes like Sir Tim Rice and Sir Trevor Nunn in the theatre and further back I’ve recorded music with producers such Steve Lillywhite. Every time I work with someone like that, I feel like I’m back at university so I sharpen my pencil and I ‘m just like a sponge soaking up all that experience.”

  • Funny Girl is at Palace Theatre in Manchester from August 7 to 19. Call 0844 871 3019 for tickets