Gareth Gates may have lost out on being crowned Pop Idol champion to Will Young in 2002, but there are no hard feelings between the pair. The 33-year-old, who is now starring in the West End production of Footloose, has revealed he still regularly speaks to his former rival, some 15 years after their reality TV showdown.
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Speaking to HELLO! Online about the lasting friendships he made during his time on the show, Gareth said: "I keep in touch with Will. We went through a lot together. It was the first of its kind, well before X Factor and the likes, therefore we had no idea what this brand new format was about. We had no idea it was going to be as huge as it was and as life-changing. So we went through a lot together and as a result of that we're still good mates."
Gareth Gates is still friends with Will Young
He added: "The only other person that I keep in touch with is a girl called Zoe Birkett. We got really, really close on the show and we're still very good friends."
Despite forging a successful pop career following his time on the reality TV show, Gareth is now enjoying putting his acting skills to the test with his role in Footloose, and admits he wouldn't rule out a move into TV in the future.
Gareth is currently starring in the West End production of Footloose
"I'm doing a lot more acting now. With this role that I'm playing in Footloose it's purely an acting role really, I only get to sing the one song and so it's pretty much all dialogue, which is great for me," Gareth said. "Especially for a guy with a stammer, and the struggle I have to go through with that. Playing a role and a character and learning a script is a great kind of release for me because it's strange, the moment I'm on stage and acting it's never ever an issue. That's really made me think, 'well I could maybe do some more acting, TV and bits and bobs like that'. Watch this space I guess."
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What show would he love to star on? Although Gareth's long-term girlfriend Faye Brookes stars in Coronation Street, he has a rival soap in mind – Emmerdale. "If I had to choose a soap – I'm from Bradford, so I'd have to go for a Yorkshire soap like Emmerdale," Gareth said, adding: "At least it's on ITV still."