Interview: Will Young

Radio Times catches up with the singer a decade after he won Pop Idol

imagenotavailable1

Will Young on…TV talent shows

“I remember around Pop Idol, people were chastising the show, and chastising me and Gareth [Gates]. People said horrible things about me. But I suppose that’s just the nature of it. I can understand that musicians spend ten years grubbing around the country in the back of a van – and I waltz in and get a big contract.”

Advertisement

“They’re much more sensational now. But I don’t think the shows were ever about the music. Programme-makers are only ever concerned with creating great TV shows. The danger now is that they could become something more cynical and manipulative that moves into the realm of hoodwinking the public.”

…his approach to life

“One of the things I remember my dad saying is, ‘life isn’t fair’. And I’ve always hung on to that. You have to deal with it, and that was a really good lesson. And I’ve always had a work ethic. I never minded working. I don’t think that was something that was instilled – that was just there. I rose to any challenge. I wasn’t very good at basketball so I practised, for years, and then became captain of the basketball team. I guess I quite like being the underdog.”

…being himself

“People like people being true to themselves. I couldn’t pretend to be anything – I remember clearly thinking, ‘I’m not gonna start speaking like that’. There’s nothing worse than a posh person pretending to not be posh. So I couldn’t pretend. It would just be so time-consuming! So, I just had to be who I was.”

“Pop Idol made people look at what their prejudices might be. So if they voted for this guy all along, they liked him, they felt passionate about him, got caught up in the TV show – then suddenly, do they have to think, ‘oh, well I’m not gonna buy his music ’cause he’s gay?’ It made people look at their own prejudices.”

“[Pop Idol], rather than me, was very important for gay rights. And sexual equality. I was like a conduit for it, but it was definitely within the protective bubble of that show.”

“Oh, I’m the biggest romantic. Heartache stays with me for years. I need it to write songs. I just have that melancholy, and I’ve had it since I was a young kid.”

“I understand that I’m always going to be this very sensitive, slightly insecure person. So, I can be overly emotional. And that is why I do what I do.”

Advertisement

A Night with Will Young airs tonight at 9:15pm on ITV1