Page last updated at 10:03 GMT, Wednesday, 7 October 2009 11:03 UK

Strictly star race taunt victim

Ricky Whittle and Natalie Lowe
Ricky Whittle is partnered with Natalie Lowe on the show

Strictly Come Dancing star Ricky Whittle has said he was a victim of racist schoolyard taunts while he lived in Northern Ireland.

His father was stationed at RAF Aldergrove for six years and the Hollyoaks actor went to a local school.

He told Love It magazine there had been very few black people in NI.

"I must have been one of the first black people in the whole country. I stood out from the other children at school," he said.

"They had never seen a black kid before and that's when the bullying began.

"I had a hard time of it - the taunts could be cruel and menacing."

However, he told the magazine that sport helped him turn the situation round.

"I got in the school football team and started to excel," he said.

"The more goals I scored, the more popular I became. Instead of being the school 'black kid', I had now become the 'star footballer'."

In other newspaper interviews he has revealed a soft spot for Northern Ireland revealing that as a teenager he had his first kiss with a local girl.

The actor, who plays policeman Calvin Valentine in the Channel 4 soap, is partnered with Strictly new girl Natalie Lowe and has been tipped as the early favourite to win the show.

Last week he danced a quickstep and scored 35 out of 40.

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