It’s now 20 years since Will Young shot to fame as the winner of the first series of Pop Idol (it was seen as a surprise at the time, as many viewers had assumed his fellow finalist Gareth Gates had it in the bag).
Unlike some of the other TV talent show contest champions who followed in his wake, his subsequent career has shown great staying power – as well as scoring more hits, he also successfully branched out into acting, and even appeared on Question Time.
However, what some of Will’s fans may not have known is that during his two decades in the spotlight, he was living with his twin brother Rupert’s alcoholism.
Then in 2020, Rupert died at the age of just 41.
Now, in the documentary Will Young: Losing My Twin Rupert, the singer opens up about his experiences as he tries to come to terms with his own grief while also learning more about the impact alcoholism can have on families.
The result is a deeply honest and moving film. Will has described his brother as his best friend, and he and his parents share some of their happy memories of Rupert, but the programme also doesn’t shy away from the pain and drama of coping with a loved one’s addiction.
Following the inquest into Rupert’s death, Will asked whether more could have been done to help him.
Here, he learns more about the difficulties in getting long-term treatment, as well as the processes involved in rehabilitation and the fears of relapse that haunt recovering addicts and their loved ones.
In his bid to understand more, Will meets a podcaster and campaigner who has faced her own issues with alcohol and takes him on a visit to the residential rehab centre where she started her recovery.
He also speaks to an expert who works on the frontline of addiction treatment and who talks about the lack of help available for people dependent on alcohol.
The other contributors include a woman who has come up with an innovative art project that she hopes will breakdown some of the taboos surrounding have a family member who is an alcoholic and allow their loved ones to have frank conversations about the difficult feelings that addiction can stir up.
Will is hoping his documentary will have a similar effect, saying: “It was very enlightening and emotional to make this film and I am extremely proud of everyone ’s involvement in it.
“I hope it shines a light on the difficulties that so many people face today in the UK with addiction and getting the necessary help.”
Channel 4 share those hopes.
Rita Daniels, Commissioning Editor for Channel 4 said: “We are very thankful to Will and his family for opening up about the sensitive and difficult topic of addiction and we hope Will’s profound tribute to his brother will go a long way to helping those going through similar issues.”