Ray Quinn has opened up on his 'nightmare' year that has lead to him taking on a new career.

The actor, who was catapulted into the spotlight on The X Factor in 2006, has swapped the showbiz world for laying carpets as he joined the family business.

It comes as the entertainment industry still remains shut down, over a year since the first national lockdown as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

It also comes less than six months after Ray lost his dad, also named Ray, to cancer aged 76.

"It’s been a tough year," the 32-year-old told the Mirror.

"The industry stopped. Then I lost my dad to cancer in November. He was told he had up to eight months to live and he died six weeks later. I have days when I really miss him.

"He was my best friend."

But Ray says his dad would be proud of his new career move as he's joined brothers Robin and Darren in the carpet fitting business.

"My dad was a carpet fitter all his life," he said. "He taught my brothers how to do it.

"Dad knew I was going to help Rob and encouraged me to do it – but laughed when I said I’d lifted my
first tool.

Ray with fiancé Emily Fletcher

"When I first started, I actually went to work in my dad's old uniform. He'd ­always said you can work your way out of anything; to keep your head up high – and that's what I've done.

"It was good to be with my family during that difficult time."

And he's had a good response from customers.

"I’ve been recognised the odd time but not that often ­because of social distancing and masks.," Ray said. "Everyone has been really lovely."

Ray, who still lives in Liverpool, is also known for winning ITV’s Dancing on Ice in 2009 and the All Stars series in 2014.

After his win, the singer and actor turned to musical theatre starring in Grease, Legally Blonde, and Dirty Dancing.

Ray in Hollyoaks with Kieron Richardson and Chris Simmons

His last TV role was in 2018 when he joined Channel 4's Hollyoaks where he played Jonny Baxter, a member of a right wing extremist group.

He left the show a year later when the storyline came to an end.

When the pandemic hit, Ray was appearing in a play at Liverpool’s Royal Court so with theatres closed, Ray became a Hermes delivery driver before joining the family business.

But that doesn't mean he's giving up his singing and acting career with his next gig in a Rat Pack-inspired UK stage show called All Singing All Swinging.

"I’m very excited," Ray told the Mirror. "I’ll be back doing what I do best.

"I’m proud of what I did during the lockdown – it kept my mind steady and helped me make better decisions; I’m more appreciative.

"But as soon as the gigs start flying in, I won’t be doing carpet fitting any more!"