WHEN Steven Pinder steps out on stage in his current role, he’ll look out to an audience of old faces from his childhood in East Lancashire.

For the Brookside star’s former classmates from Norden High School, Rishton, are using the actor’s latest play as a meeting point for their school reunion.

The ex pupils will head over to Blackpool Grand for the touring production of Keeping Up Appearances, where Steven will take on the role of Hyacinth Bucket’s troubled neighbour Emmett Hawksworth.

“All my year at Norden are 50 this year so a few of us have been in touch with birthday cards,” said Steven, who celebrated his 50th in March.

“The play being up in Lancashire has become something of a reunion, with some of my school mates coming over to Blackpool to watch.

“I never fail to get nervous so having them there won’t affect my nerves as such. It’ll be nice to see them, that’s for sure.”

Steven is best known for playing Brookside’s womanising businessman Max Farnham, whose philandering habits both entertained and endeared him to viewers.

He also enjoyed roles in Crossroads and detective series Cat’s Eyes, as well as countless theatre parts, the first being a witch in Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

None of these career opportunities would have come about, though, without the assistance of Norden High School, where Steven was a keen student in the area’s first dedicated drama department.

Born in Whalley, later moving to Great Harwood, Steven’s family background was not a theatrical one.

His father was the bank manager at NatWest in Blackburn and, had it not been for Norden, Steven would likely have taken a very different career path.

“I might have failed my 11-plus but I was so lucky to have gone there,” he said.

“Norden had this amazing drama group and their own drama studio, something quite unusual for a comprehensive in the early 1970s.

"Having no choice but to go to a comprehensive school was a blessing in disguise.

"I might never have known acting was for me had I not gone to Norden.”

After school, Steven joined Blackburn Arts Club and Manchester Youth Theatre before moving to London to attend drama school at 18.

Now living in Chester with his wife, Brookside co-star Stephanie Chambers, and daughter Scarlett, Steven fondly remembers his early Lancashire days.

His family, including his parents, still live in Great Harwood and Steven visits, fitting in trips to his beloved Ewood Park, as often as his schedule allows.

“I’ve always kept ties with home I wouldn’t have it any other way.

"And I am a big Blackburn supporter. I go to a lot of the away games.

"But I don’t get to Ewood as much as I’d like, with touring shows at the moment,” said Steven.

Keeping Up Appearances, arrives in Blackpool on July 19 and stars Gareth Hale of Hale and Pace fame, Kim Hartman from ’Allo ’Allo, and Rachel Bell as Hyacinth Bucket.