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Russell Watson reveals plans for big screen biopic

Russell Watson has performed for the Queen (Scott Garfitt/PA)
Russell Watson has performed for the Queen (Scott Garfitt/PA)

Russell Watson has revealed he is in talks for a big screen biopic of his life.

The classical music star, who has survived two pituitary tumours and performed for the Queen, Pope John Paul II and Bill Clinton, said he was in the “early stages” of discussions about the project.

Figures from the film industry have told him his story is like “Billy Elliot with bells on”, he said.

Starting out performing in clubs around the North West while working on factory floors, Watson found overnight fame with the release of his debut album The Voice in 2000 and went on to perform in prestigious venues across the world.

The 54-year-old is celebrating two decades in music with the release of 20, an album featuring newly recorded versions of highlights from his career, and a tour in 2021.

He told the PA news agency: “It’s something, to be fair, that we have been talking about recently. Someone was talking about even turning my career into a film. We are in the early stages of discussing those types of things.

“The people we were talking to at the time were saying it is like Billy Elliot with bells on. I came from a working class background, best-selling classical artist of the century in the UK, top two best-selling albums of the century, and all the people who I have sung for, coming through the health issues I have come through and everything. They like the idea of the story.

The Global Awards 2020 with Very.co.uk – Show – London
Russell Watson performs with Aled Jones (Scott Garffitt/PA)

“Some of the stuff I have done, I have to pinch myself sometimes. When I think about the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games when I sang there, and the private concert for Pope John Paul II.”

Watson was dubbed the “People’s Tenor” because of his working class upbringing in Salford and his rapid rise to fame, performing privately for figures including Emperor Hirohito of Japan at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.

However, in 2005 he began having headaches and was diagnosed with a pituitary adenoma the size of two golf balls, and underwent a five-hour operation to have it removed.

Two years later he suddenly became incapacitated while recording his album Outside In and doctors discovered a regrowth, which was also successfully removed.

Russell Watson leaves hospital
Russell Watson after he was discharged following life-saving surgery on his brain tumour (Martin Rickett/PA)

Earlier this year he competed in the ITV reality show I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!, which was held in a Welsh castle due to coronavirus, finishing eighth.

Watson said he had used his dramatic weight loss from the show’s gruelling challenges and lack of food to improve his diet and cut out caffeine.

He said: “I’ve dropped a full suit size. I was just under 20lbs lighter when I came out and I am now 23lbs lighter because as soon as I came out I just changed.

“I cut caffeine out, that was the first thing, so I have not be drinking coffee, and I have just been eating better food and smaller amounts, more often, than having big dinners.

“I have the cut the alcohol down as well, the Diet Coke. All the bad habits that I had before I went in I have cut out.

“And I have been going to the gym and I have lost a bit more weight as well. I think I have plateaued as well because I have not lost anything this past week.

“I have kept the weight off and I intend to keep it off as well.”

20 by Russell Watson is out now. His 20th anniversary tour will now take place in 2021.

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