25/01/2017 10:55 GMT

WISE WORDS: 'Hollyoaks' Star Duncan James Reveals Why NTAs Nomination Means So Much

'I didn't know whether I'd be able to walk, let alone work, so this means everything.'

Ahead of tonight’s National Television Awards where he is a thrilled first-time nominee, ‘Hollyoaks’ star Duncan James tells us why this recognition is so meaningful at this time in his life. 

The nomination for Best Newcomer comes after Duncan was cast in the hit soap in the summer of 2016, only to suffer terrible problems with his back. He had to undergo emergency surgery, and was told by doctors afterwards he had risked permanent paralysis, and had to dramatically alter his active lifestyle. 

“I was so scared, not knowing what the future held,” he tells HuffPostUK. 

Duncan is delighted to be back at work on 'Hollyoaks' following his spinal surgery

“So going to the Awards tonight will be extra special. And everyone’s been so supportive, friends I haven’t heard from for a long time have reached out to wish me luck. Whether I win or not, it’s been an amazing experience.”

Vote here for your favourites in the National Television Awards

While we had him, Duncan shared some more Wise Words, lessons he’s learned along the way, from his time in Blue, during his time on stage and now a fresh wave of popularity with ‘Hollyoaks’... 

What do you do to switch off from the world?
I love going to the gym. I’m a gym bunny. It’s a good way to take my mind off from the stresses and everything.

How do you deal with negativity?
I’m a really positive person, so I try not to let it get me down. I realise people can say what they like, freedom of speech and all that, but it’s fair to say I’ve had my share of stuff thrown my way. I just try to brush it off, but I’m still learning.  

When and where are you at your happiest?
When I’m in love. I love the feeling of being in love, it makes me smile from ear to ear.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
”Just be yourself, you’ll find it a lot easier.”

What’s been the hardest lesson you’ve had to learn?
Being heartbroken, learning from the mistakes you made and your part in it. I think that being in love is what we all want in life and what drives us as humans, but sometimes there’s a very fine line between love and hate, and you can cross that line very easily, then you can say things you regret, and that’s something you have to learn from.

What would you like to tell your 13-year-old self?
Have more confidence in yourself, believe in yourself. Things that happen can knock you down. Sometimes when you’re in a low ebb, it’s easy to let negativity in, remain positive, brush it off, don’t let it affect you. It’s not going to kill you. Don’t worry so much. 

What are the three things at the top of your wish list?
Visit Macchu Piccu, follow the Inca trail with somebody that I’m in love with; get married one day.

What do you think happens when we die?
I’m spiritual, and I believe that, whatever happens to our bodies, our spirits go to heaven.

When have you felt in the presence of something larger than ourselves?
I was in New York on 9/11, and we all realised this was something out of our control. Even though the terrorism was man-made, it made us all feel very insignificant, like ants. I just realised the fragility of life, that it could all be over at any time. 

What is the quality you most treasure in relationships? 
Trust and truth.

What keeps you grounded?
My mum and my little girl.

What was the most recent act of kindness you received?
How people have supported me over the NTAs. It’s been amazing, I feel so grateful.

‘The NTA Awards’ air tonight at 7.30pm on ITV.