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Will Young: I’m surprised X Factor has not had its comeuppance

Will Young’s music career was launched when he won Pop Idol in 2002 (Joseph Sinclair/PA)
Will Young’s music career was launched when he won Pop Idol in 2002 (Joseph Sinclair/PA)

Will Young says he is surprised The X Factor has not had its “comeuppance” over how it treated contestants.

The singer, who rose to fame on Pop Idol 20 years ago, said the way the TV talent show format had evolved since then made him “really sad and actually quite angry”.

The 2002 series, in which Young triumphed over rival Gareth Gates and launched a music career, is widely credited with reinventing the format that has dominated TV schedules since.

Cazoo Derby Festival – Day Two – Epsom Racecourse
Music mogul Simon Cowell (Mike Egerton/Jockey Club/PA)

His comments come after ITV announced in July that it was resting The X Factor for at least five years following falling ratings.

Young told the PA news agency: “It just makes me really sad and actually quite angry.

“I feel a bit unsure as to why a show like X Factor hasn’t had its comeuppance in terms of how it has treated people. And I am surprised.

“There is obviously stuff going on in the background, but hopefully one day it will come out. I wish it was my story to tell but it’s not, unfortunately.

Will Young in 2002 at the time of Pop Idol (Indira Cesarine/PA)

“We were very lucky and I think one of the best things is it was so pure. It was a singing competition and the public were never duped. They paid money by phoning in. They were the record company and they voted for me to have a record contract.

“They took the power away from the fat cats at the record companies and I will never forget that. They were the ones that gave me a record deal.”

Young said standing up to Simon Cowell on Pop Idol, where the music mogul was a judge, had been the “defining moment” of his career.

The show saw Cowell describe one of Young’s performances as “distinctly average” before the budding performer, then in his early 20s, hit back.

He accused Cowell of only “projecting insults” and added: “I don’t think you could ever call that average. But it is your opinion and I respect that.”

Young told PA: “I have to remind myself how young I was and how powerful he was – and I stood up for myself and for others. And I am very proud of that.

“It was kind of my defining moment really. You will have to watch it on YouTube, it is very good.”

The Will Young – 20 Years Tour takes place in October and November 2022. Tickets are available online.

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