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Will Young Q&A: “My true essence is being a host on Antiques Roadshow“

The singer discusses Nelson Mandela, The Untethered Soul by Michael Alan Singer and his relationship with social media. 

By New Statesman

Will Young was born in Berkshire in 1979. He won the inaugural series of “Pop Idol”, and his debut single was the bestselling single of the Noughties. Young has also performed as an actor in the West End and on TV.


What’s your earliest memory?

Stealing chocolate digestives from the cupboard in the kitchen. I waited and listened until everyone was gone, and in I crawled. However, my mother was round the corner with a camera.


Who are your heroes?

My childhood hero was Michael Jackson. I remember the pull-outs from his LPs very clearly. He was the ultimate pop star. Without YouTube, the only way you could see these people was to watch Top of the Pops and listen to their music on repeat. My adult heroes are my dogs. They are remarkable to put up with me and my dreadful skills at being an owner.

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What book last changed your thinking?

Every book changes my thinking. The Untethered Soul by Michael Alan Singer is an incredible book and certainly gave me some interesting and curious ideas about one’s true essence. Mine, incidentally, is being a host on Antiques Roadshow.


Which political figure do you look up to?

Nelson Mandela. Politics and respect don’t seem to go hand in hand, but his ability to maintain grace, acceptance, forgiveness and fortitude was absolutely astonishing.


What would be your Mastermind specialist subject?

African birds of prey. I have always been rather fascinated by them; there is such a diverse array of raptors in Africa.

[See also: The vegetarian in the abattoir]

In which time and place, other than your own, would you like to live?

I would like to have been present at the trial of Socrates. I would love to have lived in Athens at that time, and also to have experienced the Enlightenment. I would, however, still insist on air conditioning.


Who would paint your portrait?

I had it done for the first time for Sky Arts’ Portrait Artist of the Year. It was by a previous winner, Christian Hook, and was an interesting experience. I don’t know that I liked the sadness I saw in my face, but it is there, so I try to embrace it.


What’s your theme tune?

“Oh, Pretty Woman”. It was difficult when I met Julia Roberts in a green room and I had that song constantly going round my mind. She called security.


What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Don’t worry about things that haven’t happened. Yes, I do follow it every day… Hang on, did I leave the gas on?


What’s currently bugging you?

My weight. I try not to body-shame myself.


What single thing would make your life better?

No social media.


When were you happiest?

I wasn’t. There is no happiest time in my life. Happiness works on a continuum and that is why life is wonderful. Contentment is the key; happiness is fleeting.


In another life, what job might you have chosen?

Animal charity worker. I would work in conservation. I honestly still think I might. Just the idea of it makes me so happy.


Are we all doomed?



“To Be a Gay Man” by Will Young is published by Virgin Books. His new album “Crying On The Bathroom Floor” will be released on Cooking Vinyl on 6 August

This article appears in the 19 May 2021 issue of the New Statesman, In defence of meritocracy