THE former drama teacher of EastEnders star David Witts has spoken of his pride after he won a prestigious award.

The Southend-based actor, who plays Joey Branning in the BBC soap, won the newcomer award at the National Television Awards.

Mark Valencia, head of drama at Southend High School for Boys, was chuffed to get a special mention in the young actor’s acceptance speech - and told how his talent was evident from a very young age.

The schoolboy starred in many school productions including Chess and The Hired Man as well as playing Jean Valjean in Les Miserables aged just 15. 

Southend High School for Boy’s performance of Les Miserables won Best Musical of 2007 and Best Overall Production at the National Operatic and Dramatic Association awards for south Essex.

David, now 22, joined EastEnders last year and was has also voted Sexiest Male at the Inside Soap Awards.

Mr Valencia, 59, revealed David had kept in touch with his school, and had even dropped in recently.

And Mr Valencia revealed the soap star has a hidden talent unlikely to see the light of day in Albert Square.He added: “He is an extremely strong musical theatre singer as well as an actor. That is probably, one day, where his career will go.”