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Gareth Gates is in concert at Gravesend's Woodville Halls Theatre on Sunday, September 28 ahead of the Big Reunion: Boy Band Tour in October 2014

Gareth Gates was the baby-faced boy who spoke with a stutter but sung like an angel when we first met him on Pop Idol in 2002.

Gareth Gates
Gareth Gates

Though he came runner-up to winner Will Young, a recording deal came Gareth’s way too, with early singles including Unchained Melody and Any One Of Us.

Now a veteran in the world of pop and musical theatre and still only 30, Gareth is finding time before his imminent Big Reunion arena tour – spawned from the reality TV show in which he starred earlier this year – to play a relatively intimate gig in Kent. Fans at Gravesend’s Woodville Hall on Sunday, September 28 can expect some new self-penned material amid the old favourites.

The dad-of-one told us about teenage fame, why he’ll always be working on his stutter, and which is his favourite Kent high street.

Your new show features some of your own songs. Is songwriting a new skill?
“I will be playing a mix of new songs as I’ve been writing quite a bit recently. There will also be my old songs everyone knows, plus we’ll finish with a few well-known covers. I turned to song-writing as a child to try and express myself but then I got too busy over the years. Now I’m older I have more to write about and I’m finding more time for songwriting again. In the early days I was here, there and everywhere internationally, in Asia and Europe, and I didn’t get the chance.”

Have you ever thought that, with hindsight, you were too young for the Pop Idol experience?
“I was 17 when I did Pop Idol but I think the fact I was young helped. I just enjoyed everything and didn’t read too much into things. I loved everything about it. I wanted to be a successful recording artist and I got that. Music’s always been my life, I know how to do nothing but music. Because of my speech impediment, I excelled because that was the way I could express myself. I learned piano at a very young age and then the guitar. I always wanted to do musical theatre as well, so I’m lucky to have a foot in both worlds.”

You trained in the type of speech therapy that worked for you, but I understand that you continue to work on your own speech?
“I qualified as an instructor on the McGuire Programme. It’s not a full-time or paid job, I just head there to help out-of-control stammerers gain control of their speech. I’m struggling with my speech at present because I’m busy. It’s like going to the gym – if you’re constantly at it you’re fit and healthy, but if you stop...”

Gareth as Joseph
Gareth as Joseph

Your stammer hasn’t seemed to hinder your career though?
“The first show I did in the West End was Joseph and that musical was also the reason I got into music aged eight. I went to auditions for the school production. I was very shy, having this horrendous stammer. They asked me to sing and this voice came out! So doing that show in the West End was very special. Another show I was very honoured to be a part of was Les Miserables. I was Marius in the 25th anniversary tour.”

It’s a diverse route you’re taking, as you’ve also recently appeared on reality TV show The Big Reunion with Dane Bowers from Another Level and Adam Rickitt.
“The Big Reunion was a bizarre experience, sharing the stage, and at first I was a bit sceptical but the lads were great and we had loads of fun together. We’re doing the Big Reunion: Boy Band Tour in October around all the big arenas in the country, and after that I’m on tour again myself.”

Will the gig in Gravesend represent a long trip from home?
“No. I always like to call Bradford home, it’s where my family live and I own a house there, but at 17 I moved to London and my base now is in Chiswick, West London. I’ve travelled the country lots and often I get to the venue, do the show and leave, but Kent is lovely so I’ll try to get down there a bit earlier.”

Gareth was in panto at Canterbury
Gareth was in panto at Canterbury

Which part of Kent do you know best?
“I did panto in Canterbury two years ago, I was there for a good eight or nine weeks. The Marlowe is a beautiful theatre. I had a little mews house right around the corner from the theatre so I could roll out of bed and into work. The main high street has got lots of good restaurants and bars. I had the odd night out and sampled the local ale.”

Gareth is at Gravesend's Woodville Hall Theatre on Sunday, September 28 at 7.30pm. Tickets from £16. Visit www.woodville.co.uk or call 08442 439480.

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