Will Young: quitting Strictly cost me £100,000 – but it was the best thing I ever did

The singer abruptly left the 2016 competition after three weeks

Will Young and Karen Clifton compete in Strictly Come Dancing (BBC)

Will Young made headlines in 2016 when he quit the 14th series of Strictly Come Dancing after three weeks for “personal reasons”. But he now says that despite losing out on his £100,000 fee, leaving the show was the “best thing I ever did”.

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Discussing issues around mental health on the Media Masters podcast, the singer added that he was glad he decided to quit because “there’s nothing worse than feeling trapped”.

“I turned down £100,000, which I was being paid,” said Young. “All the potential benefits of it. [It was the] best thing I ever did because now I know, well, I can leave at any stage. I’m not trapped. There’s nothing worse than feeling trapped.”

He added that he was now “much better at looking after myself” and found it easier in a climate of improved awareness of mental health issues to take breaks from work when necessary.

Referencing a theatre performance he had been involved in, Young said “I took a week off because… it was too much. I was burnt out… The good thing is now that the climate’s changed. You know, a producer cannot go, ‘That’s not good enough.’ So when I wanted to take a week off, I went to my psychiatrist, said, ‘I just need you to write a note, basically, because they’re going to need it for their insurance or whatever,’ write the note, went in, ‘Here’s the note, I’m off for a week.’

“The thing is, I have no problem with that because I’m much better at looking after myself.”

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After leaving Strictly, Young – who was paired with professional dancer Karen Clifton – revealed that it was an existing struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder that had led to him quitting the show and that he had even considered breaking his own legs to get out of dancing.