In rather the same way that it’s intriguing to see how recipients of pioneering surgical procedures are faring decades after the operation, the Observer caught up with the first winner of a primetime singing talent show, Will Young. It’s been ten years since Young won Pop Idol, and his career has not all been plain sailing.
On the plus side, he has sold over 9 million albums and still has a loyal following that is substantial enough to put his last album Echoes straight in at number 1 and to ensure that his tours are sold out.
The downside was that success with Pop Idol had not prepared him for the inevitable dips that characterise a career in the music business. When sales dropped away in 2009, Young took it badly. "I had a real dip and I became a bit disillusioned," he said. "I was being confronted by the business side of things – Is it going to work? Is it going to hit the market? – and that can really take away your passion."
Therapy helped, along with a positive attitude and an unwillingness to succumb to clichéd showbusiness angst about the pressures of fame. "Being famous is the best," he said. "You get free things and a really good wage and people quite often say quite nice things to me and that's really nice. No one likes a whingeing famous person."
For relaxation he runs marathons, although he finds them demanding. During the London marathon in April, "Someone shouted out, 'Do it for the young people!'" says Young. "I was thinking, 'F**k the young people! I don't give a sh*t.'"