Former University of Sunderland student Chris Ramsey will be hoping to score more than a few laughs this weekend.

The comedian is already proving a firm favourite in this year’s series of BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing.

And as he prepares to take to the dancefloor again this Saturday, his former school headteacher – and University of Sunderland Honorary graduate – Sir Ken Gibson sends a special good luck message.

Sir Ken, Executive Head at Harton Academy in South Shields, also told how Chris, and dance partner Karen Hauer, are proving a real inspiration to pupils and staff as they attend weekly rehearsals at the school.

Sir Ken, who was made an Honorary Doctorate of Education by the University in 2016, said: “The pair of them have been an absolute pleasure to have here over the past five weeks.

“They have been rehearsing in our new dance studio and to see how much Chris has improved has been brilliant.

“We are watching the show every week and supporting him. I think Karen has done a tremendous job, especially as Chris has had no dance training.”

Sir Ken says he remembers Chris as a pupil when he played the role of Inspector O’Dreary in a school production of Bugsy Malone.

Chris would leave Harton in 2002 before starting a Film and Media programme at the University. He would later leave as his comedy career began to take off.

Sir Ken said: “The BBC came and filmed here last week. It’s interesting that it was almost exactly 10 years ago that that we had Cheryl Cole here when Joe McElderry, another former pupil, made it through to the final of the X Factor.”

The 33-year-old comedian is also a regular on our television screens, starring in The Chris Ramsey Show on Comedy Central UK, two series of critically-acclaimed BBC Two sitcom Hebburn and most recently, Married to a Celebrity and Parenting for Idiots alongside wife Rosie on Channel 4.

Sir Ken is now hoping his former pupil can add the Strictly crown to his many accolades.

He added: “He’s an amazing lad with a talented partner so we all have our fingers crossed for them this weekend.”

*See Chris in Strictly Come Dancing on BBC1 this Saturday at 6.35pm.