Masked Singer viewers couldn’t believe their eyes when mysterious character Lionfish was finally unmasked as Pop Idol winner Will Young.
He became the third celebrity to be revealed on the ITV show, gushing: “Hiding was so easy and made it so enjoyable. I was nervous when I had to take the mask off!
“It was very interesting to experience.”
While lots of fans were shocked to see Will, others had guessed it was him due to his unmistakeable, soulful voice.
But despite his promising singing talent, the star has also been in the headlines recently for very different reasons, including handcuffing himself to the gates of a puppy breeding facility.
Will won Pop Idol 2002, beating Gareth Gates to the top spot and landing a record for the fastest-selling debut single in the UK with double sided Anything Is Possible/Evergreen.
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He went on to release multi-platinum selling albums including Friday’s Child and Echoes, landing nominations for 12 Brit Awards and winning two. His hard work saw him , winning two, and amass an estimated net worth of £13.5million.
The multi-talented star also tried his hand at acting, starring in the 2013 London revival of Cabaret, for which he was nominated for the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor, as well as a role in Skins and Marple drama The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side.
He’s even written books including Anything is Possible (2002), On Camera, Off Duty (2004) and his autobiography Funny Peculiar (2012).
But in 2021, Will stunned the world with his stunt in protest outside a facility that breeds beagle puppies for use in animal testing.
The 42-year-old joined animal rights protestors from Camp Beagle to campaign for the closure of MBR Acres in Wyton, near Huntington, handcuffing himself to the gates and demanding the dogs be released and the facility closed down.
Asked why he felt so passionately about the demonstration, Will replied: “Because I am a dog-lover, an animal-lover and a human-lover, I come with no hate and aggression.”
He continued: “People are unaware there is still animal testing in this country and it is not needed. I couldn’t sit at home and not do nothing [to] bring attention to the plight of these animals.
“All protests, all movements, need little boosts. As someone who has [fans] I couldn’t sit at home and just write another song or another book.”
He later released himself after speaking to Cambridgeshire police, who released a statement saying: “Officers spoke to a man handcuffed to the gates and he has since released himself from the handcuffs and moved away from the entrance.
“Our response to the protests in Wyton has been impartial and proportionate, balancing the right to protest with the right of staff at the site to go about their lawful work.
“We are ensuring a safe environment for protesters to express their views peacefully and staff at the site to do their work, which is protected under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005.”
Brave Will has also used his platform to speak about the devastating sudden death of his twin brother, and the failings he believes contributed to the tragedy.
Rupert, 41, tragically died after falling from Westminster Bridge in London on August 2, 2020. A coroner ruled his death as suicide.
His death came a few days after paramedics saw him walking along the edge of the same bridge and he was admitted to hospital.
The coroner ruled he deliberately jumped off the bridge on July 30, the day he quietly departed St Thomas’ Hospital, before his body was found on August 2.
During the last day of the inquest, Will questioned a mental health nurse, who authored a report that found Rupert’s treatment was “appropriate”, over why a psychiatrist was not asked to assess him.
He also wanted to question why addiction services suggested alcoholics like his brother wean themselves off alcohol with alcohol.
“In my experience with Rupert, my twin, he was given medication to aid with the withdrawals,” Will said at St Pancras Coroner’s Court.
“However when he was either discharged or as a pattern for Rupert, absconded, he wasn’t allowed to take this anymore.
“They are asked to wean themselves off by drinking alcohol. Do you think an alcoholic drinking 40 beers a day, do you think it’s at all viable, sensible, maybe even caring, to ask an alcoholic to then wean themselves off with the very drug they are dependent on?”
He was told by a senior coroner that the question was not allowed to be put to the witness.
A report, written up by a mental health nurse from Lambeth Hospital and a doctor from Southwark Mental Health Service, found he had been cared for appropriately by committed staff, the inquest heard.
But speaking outside the court, Will said he believed his brother should have been seen by a psychiatrist and sectioned under the Mental Health Act.
He said: “Those working for the NHS do an amazing job and within very difficult circumstances and it’s never been more hard-pressed than at the moment.
“However my brother is someone who had, in the weeks and months before his death, been into hospital countless times following suicide attempts.
“I am astounded that Rupert, having been found trying to jump off Westminster Bridge on July 28, was allowed to leave hospital two days later yet again, without ever having been referred to a consultant psychiatrist.
“It is my belief that it must or should have been obvious to all concerned that he was a high risk of suicide and should have been detained under the Mental Health Act for his own safety.
“Had this been done he might still be alive today. I know we are not the only family in this situation and I pray that lessons are learned from his situation and some of these deaths are prevented in the future.”
Will has recently released a new album after announcing in 2018 he was retiring from music and would “never put out a record again”, revealing he planned to become a therapist.
He had quit Strictly Come Dancing two years prior due to “personal reasons” and admitted he was “unwell”, struggling to cope with the pressures of fame and battling deep depression.
“In the weeks leading up to Strictly all I could think about was how could I get out of doing the show,” he told Event magazine.
“I knew I didn’t have the strength, that I wasn’t in the right place and that I would do myself real damage.
“I actually looked into the easiest way to break my legs so I couldn’t dance. That’s how bad it was.”
After spending £500,000 on therapy, Will said he began to feel like himself again.
He had even planned to sell his Brits because they reminded him of such an unhappy time in his life.
However, after heading into a studio with his old friend and producer Richard X and recording a single, Will decided another album would be the natural next step and he released Crying on the Bathroom Floor in 2021.
Will, who is still pals with Pop Idol alum Gareth, currently resides in Dalston, East London – though he also owns a 17th century cottage in Cornwall where he’s a keen gardener, appearing on Gardeners’ World with Monty Don in 2019.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.