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It's Chico Time again...

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: February 07, 2013

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IRONICALLY it's not the deeply embedded phrase "It's Chico time" which is causing the former X Factor contestant problems, but rather the lack of it.

Instead of rehearsing for his latest venture, a lively theatre show called Boogie Nights, Yousseph Sliman – better known as Chico – is counting down the hours to the opening night of a new ice skating show.

During a break in rehearsals he found the time to speak to the Echo about how his dancing feet have barely stood still since appearing on ITV's Dancing on Ice last year.

His success in coming third on the show has inspired him to create a live arena production called Celebrities On Ice which took four months to plan. The singing, dancing and ice skating spectacular was performed at Peterborough Arena last month.

The star-studded cast included former England rugby legend and 2007 Dancing on Ice champion Kyran Bracken, West End star and 2009 Dancing on Ice winner Ray Quinn, and Steps star Lisa Scott-Lee.

It meant though he lost out on valuable rehearsal time for his latest role in Boogie Nights which stops off at Plymouth Pavilions on Wednesday, February 13.

The stellar line-up includes The Osmonds, Gareth Gates, Louisa Lytton, Andy Abraham and Shane Ritchie Junior.

"We only had 10 days of rehearsing for Boogie Nights, and I missed three of them so I had to play catch-up," explains Chico. "It always comes all right on the night, as they say!

"I can't even begin to tell you how great it is. All I do is laugh because the cast is incredible.

"When the part was offered to me I must have thought about it for a millisecond before saying yes. I play a character called Terry whose almost the geeky one. He is always trying to please and impress Roddy, the main character, who is an aspiring pop star.

"Terry is like his funny sidekick and has definitely got the funniest lines in the show.

"It's like a concert version of the story, so there are lots of medleys and lots of audience participation. You need to put on your party pants and dancing shoes, and forget all your worries. After two hours you will leave tantalised and revitalised!"

It's a feeling long forgotten by Chico, whose popularity has soared again since his Dancing on Ice stint. After the show he embarked on a 70-date tour of Haven holiday parks and ended the year by starring in a pantomime.

Chico has now been living off what everyone thought would be his five minutes of fame for the last seven years. It all started back in 2005 when he auditioned for X Factor, and judge Simon Cowell walked out after fellow judges Louis Walsh and Sharon Osbourne voted him through to the second round.

The public also fell in love with Chico and he became the first contestant to sing an original song, the unforgettable It's Chico Time, named after his catchphrase.

When it was released it knocked Madonna off top spot and remained at number one for two weeks.

"That was when I was having a good old Chico time," he chuckles. "My life is a ball of laughter, joy, happiness and PMA – positive, mental attitude.

"If you believe something in your mind you will do it. Chico makes you believe you can achieve no matter what.

"If I can then so can you. It's amazing what our human capabilities are.

"There's a sleepy giant inside us that says, 'You can do this', and then there's this little voice that says, 'You can't'. Always be aware of that little voice and know it is a liar.

"There are times when it feels like a dream. But sometimes you dream about something and the dream becomes reality. There are times when I sit back and think, wow, and I realise I'm enjoying the fruits of hard work."

His destiny to become an entertainer was apparent from a very young age. Born in Wales, he returned to his father's native Morocco at the age of two where he was brought up on his grandparent's farm.

At 13 he returned to the UK to complete his schooling but first had to learn English. His route to stardom first took in a range of roles including trainee hairdresser, engineer, dancer and singer.

In each career the one thing that set him apart was his likeable and charming personality, and it is that which helped him become a household name on X Factor.

"As the great Bob Marley said, you can fool people some of the time, but you can't fool them all of the time," declares the father of two.

"You can't carry on acting a certain way and pretend to be that way if you're not. People aren't silly.

"I think people like me because I don't take life too seriously.

"I enjoy myself and inspire people to be great, but you have to be prepared to work hard to get there. And when you get there it's important to give something back."

Chico has done just that by establishing the Rainbow Child Foundation which helps underprivileged children all over the world.

Another achievement Chico can claim is being one of the few X Factor contestants not to have ever released an album.

But that is set to change very soon because in April he will unleash his debut album Chicomba on the world.

"I recorded it last year but never released it," he reveals, without going into any further detail.

"I'm probably the only X Factor contestant to never have released an album, but that's because I've been happy to tour. I've performed to maybe one million people by touring during the last seven years."

The album title is also the name given to Chico's new fitness DVD, so it seems that Chico time is here to stay for a lot longer than anyone could ever have imagined.

Tickets for the show cost from £29.50 to £35.50. Visit www.plymouthpavilions.com

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