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Will Young: Losing My Twin Rupert
Britain’s Top Takeaways
When Will Young quit Strictly in 2016, in what seemed at the time to be an almighty flounce, no one who didn’t know his troubled private life could have guessed the truth.
He turned down a £100,000 fee, blaming ‘post-traumatic stress’, and later admitted he had thought about breaking his own leg rather than keep dancing.
Will made no reference to the episode in his grief-laden account of caring for his brother, Losing My Twin Rupert (C4).
But the singer revealed that, earlier in 2016, his brother had moved into his London house.
Rupert slept on the sofa for the next four years in a permanent drunken stupor, drinking up to 40 cans of beer a day.
Pop Idol winner Will Young cared for his twin brother Rupert as he struggled with alcoholism
Will became Rupert’s carer while also balancing his career and fame
Will became his carer, feeding and cleaning him.
With that pressure, it’s little wonder Will could not cope with Strictly.
He couldn’t escape the misery at home, so he fled a TV show instead.
After nearly two decades of spiralling alcoholic crises, which started at just 18, Rupert had exhausted all hope of recovery or rehab.
He’d made multiple suicide attempts, including one that left him bleeding heavily in the studio shortly before Will’s Pop Idol breakthrough in 2002.
Becoming his carer, Will said, was a last-ditch attempt to keep him alive: ‘I would do everything I could not to let my brother die.’
Rupert killed himself in 2020.
The love Will feels for him is evident in the way he talks about him sometimes as though he’s still alive.
Memories of his brother continue to make him laugh. ‘When I became famous,’ he grinned, ‘it was like he was the pop star’ — using the family connection to ‘jump the queue at nightclubs’ and pull girls.
Like any twins, their lives were closely interlinked. Both boys were abused physically and mentally by teachers at boarding school.
However, Will took pains to ensure this didn’t become a memoir solely about himself.
Perhaps as a consequence of years of therapy, he is an excellent interviewer — unafraid to ask emotional questions, in carefully considered words, and then listening to the answers.
He pointed out to a psychiatrist that NHS care for alcoholics and their families is next to non-existent.
Talking to artist Natalie Needham about her childhood with an alcoholic father, he remarked: ‘It’s blown my mind how many of us are out there.’
It truly is mind-blowing. An estimated 1.6 million people in Britain are heavy drinkers, most of them with partners, parents or children who feel powerless to control the chaos.
Will’s most moving interview was with his own parents, almost speechless with sadness as they leafed through photos from the twins’ childhood.
Robin, their father, could hardly bring himself to look. ‘Such a waste,’ he sighed.
After such an upsetting and thought-provoking programme, there’s little that can be said about Britain’s Top Takeaways (BBC2) except that the show, like its content, fills a hole.
Airing on four evenings, this week and next, families taste deliveries from five fast food outlets.
It’s like Gogglebox with chips.
All the amateur judges take care not to talk with their mouths full or spill curry down their chins, but there’s still something unappetising about seeing people you don’t know tuck into a plateful of greasy nosh.
The lowest point came when hairdresser Royston bit into a piece of half-cooked pork crackling. ‘I don’t want any more,’ he yelped.
‘That’s turned me right off.’ I know how he felt.