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Aberdonian Bad Boys Inc star Ally Begg felt ‘thrown in the trash’ after pop fame ended

The writer and broadcaster was once a member of Bad Boys Inc, the band had their first Top 10 hit 30 years ago - but their success was short-lived and left him in a mess.

Ally Begg used to be in Bad Boys Inc, but spoke about the difficulties he faced once fame faded.
Ally Begg used to be in Bad Boys Inc, but spoke about the difficulties he faced once fame faded.

Life seemed fine and dandy for the members of Bad Boys Inc when they celebrated their first British Top 10 single More to this World 30 years ago.

The song, one of many similar efforts which flowed off a conveyor belt from a variety of groups during the decade, featured Aberdeen’s Ally Begg, alongside David Ross, Matthew Pateman and Tony Dowding and, for a few months, this quartet were hot property and their faces adorned posters, magazine covers and other memorabilia.

They worked hard at improving their singing and, prior to their split in 1995, amassed half-a-dozen Top 40 hits, while turning up on Top of the Pops several times and becoming the first band to appear on the UK National Lottery television programme.

Ally was ‘almost afraid to speak up’

From the outset, nobody was pretending they were any threat to The Beatles, Bruce Springsteen or Bob Dylan. And, once the success dried up, they had absolutely no idea how to react.

Nothing had prepared them for fame, let alone the fact it might vanish in a flash. And, in the midst of Mental Health Awareness Week, Ally, who is now 51 and recovering from serious illness, has spoken of how it sparked imposter syndrome, pushed him on to a financial precipice, and left him wondering what he was going to do next.

Ally Begg with his fellow Bad Boy Inc members as they launched their short-lived career.
Ally Begg, left, with his fellow Bad Boy Inc members as they launched their short-lived career.

At least while they were recording, travelling to such venues as the Radio 1 road show environment, they could simulate friendly smiles for the paparazzi and adoring fans. Yet, just as in the case of so many other youngsters who have hit the spotlight, a plethora of tensions, travails and tristesse were lurking behind the scenes.

He recalled: “I was almost afraid to speak up because I did not want people around us to think that I was being ungrateful for the opportunity. There was so much that I wanted to say about our image, about the music, and where we needed to desperately improve, but I was always put in my place and told to keep my mouth firmly shut.

‘I felt like a fraud’

“I felt like a puppet on a string which was becoming unhealthy. The biggest issue I had during my time with the band was that I started to suffer from ‘imposter syndrome’.

Ally said he David and Tony weren’t allowed to sing backing vocals to back up Matthew’s lead vocals – despite hours working with a vocal coach to improve their singing voices, and that he he “felt like a fraud.”

He added: “We were, at the end of the day, a manufactured pop group.”

Ally Begg with Bad Boys Inc at a Radio 1 roadshow in 1994.
Ally Begg with Bad Boys Inc at a Radio 1 roadshow in 1994.

If the atmosphere was unhealthy during the group’s transient existence, matters rapidly deteriorated after their split. Ally had a thousand friends whom he could have fitted into a phone box – not that anybody was ever going to call him for months thereafter.

He told the Press & Journal: “It was an extremely difficult period in my life after the band went our separate ways. There’s no manual or handbook to help you cope.

‘The phone stopped ringing’

“Having been dropped by the record company, I just felt like I was thrown in the trash.”

Ally added: “The phone stopped ringing when all it ever did for three years previously was ring off the hook. It felt like nobody cared. All I knew was I was broke, I had no money.

“The perception was I had become a millionaire, trust me that could not be further from the truth. I needed to work as the debts were mounting. It was a horrific 18 months.”

Nowadays, entertainment companies are expected to provide a duty of care to their leading talent and deal with the psychological toll which being pursued by tabloids and online gossip sites can inflict on acts and individuals thrust into the spotlight.

It doesn’t always work – witness the ongoing controversy over Scottish comedian and actor Richard Gadd’s Netflix drama, Baby Reindeer, which has sparked rows, rancour and possible legal action.

Ally had to find his own solutions

But at least, matters have improved from how they were three decades ago when Ally was forced to seek his own solutions, joined a gym and was subsequently helped by some of the Aberdeen FC players he had grown up watching at Pittodrie in the 1980s.

Gothenburg Great Neil Simpson.
Gothenburg Great Neil Simpson helped Ally Begg in his hour of need. Image: Paul Glendell.

He said: “There was no care at all after we split up, nobody from the industry checked in with me at all to see how I was doing and I did feel very alone.

“To take my mind away from my troubles, I threw myself into football. I trained every day and continued to play charity football every Tuesday and Sunday.

Strong enough to cope

“I studied to become a qualified coach with the help of Neil Simpson and Drew Jarvie at Aberdeen FC and had a short time playing in Hertfordshire. But even though the football was a welcome distraction, I was still very much struggling with the rejection and exploitation from my time with Bad Boys Inc.

“I was once offered an opportunity to speak with a psychologist, but turned it down. I believed at the time it was still very much taboo to admit there were issues and if anything, I had convinced myself I was strong enough to cope with it all on my own.

“In hindsight, I should have taken up the offer, but I am proud of myself for dealing with all the nonsense, that came my way for many months after we split up.”

Aberdonian Ally Begg.
Aberdonian Ally Begg had opened up about his struggles after transient pop fame.

His career in sports broadcasting has taken him to such places as Manchester United, ESPN and as a producer in Qatar, but Ally and his family now live in Germany and his recent problems have been more of the physical than mental nature after he was diagnosed with ulcertaive colitis, a disease of the colon.

Yet, although this led to months of worry and he was transferred to a specialist clinic in Salzburg, where doctors took the decision to remove his colon – and he lost four and a half stone in weight which was “incredibly scary” – he is still determined to push forward with new plans to investigate how fame affects different individuals.

‘I was an accidental pop star’

He said: “I am very busy with my Aberdeen FC-themed YouTube channel ‘Ally Begg ABTV’ which is building nicely and continuing to grow monthly.

“I am also continuing to work on The Big Saturday Football Show on Northsound 1 every Saturday throughout the season and I am relaunching my separate YouTube channel The Accidental Pop Star where I interview pop stars, both young and old, about their own experiences in the industry and see if we can find common ground.

Ally Begg with some memorabilia of Bad Boys Inc.
Ally Begg with some memorabilia of Bad Boys Inc, though he has mixed feelings about the band.

“As well as this, I am a very busy dad looking after my two wee boys Lennox and Harvey who astonish me with their character, humour and love for each other.”

Ally has witnessed plenty of highs and lows and learned to look back on his ephemeral pop career with a mixture of fondness and near-disbelief. But he is a survivor.

And he appreciates not everybody in the business has been as fortunate.

Further information about Mental Health Awareness Week is at: