Will Young on tragic twin: ‘I did everything I could to not let him die’

    Will and Rupert together after Will became a star

    He’s faced his own struggles over the years, but in a powerful new documentary on next week, singer Will Young delves into the tragic story of his twin Rupert, who took his own life after a long battle with alcohol addiction.

    And through talking to his parents Robin and Annabel, addiction experts and others who’ve had their own battles or witnessed loved ones’ struggles, Will hopes to shine a light on addiction, in a bid to help others win the kind of battle that Rupert ultimately lost in 2020.

    His death came after decades of family intervention and support.

    “I did everything I could to not let him die,” admits Will in the programme.

    It’s not an easy watch, but it’s moving and thought provoking, as Will relives the pain of seeing his brother and best friend fight his demons.

    Will and Rupert together after Will became a star

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    Recalling a time when Rupert stayed with Will, the singer reveals: “This is the sitting room where Rupert slept. My day would start…I would come in…check if he was alright. I’d normally have to clear up some sort of mess. So either like he was sick, or normally he’d have peed on the sofa.

    “So I’d have to clear that up, then go and get more beers and codeine, because he was addicted to painkillers. And start my day…”

    He continued: “He was was my twin brother. And he struggled with alcohol from the age of probably about 18, through to July 2020, when he killed himself. I really have never spoken about this before. And I’d like to speak about things. It wasn’t my story to tell you no, but now it is.”

    The brothers were best friends as well as twins
    The brothers were best friends as well as twins

    Will goes on to give some background to why he has made the documentary, saying “My name is William Young. I’m a singer, actor and writer. It’s important to tell my story, to tell Rupert’s story, to tell my family’s story and to tell the story of 20 years of living with my twin who was an alcoholic. Other people will be experiencing this and I don’t want people to feel alone.”

    The nation first became aware of Will when he won Pop Idol in 2001 beating the favourite, Gareth Gates. And in the programme, Will and his parents look back at how Rupert’s drama gave them so much more to think about than whether Will would impress Simon Cowell and his fellow judges…

    “I found out later that Rupert was partying a lot during Pop Idol. That’s when the drinking started taking hold more,” Will explains. “But I think the important thing to note is that the anxiety and depression Rupert felt was there before the alcohol.”

    Will and Gareth competed on Pop Idol
    Will and Gareth competed on Pop Idol

    “It’s so difficult to remember things sometimes when so many things have happened,” muses Will. “I remember the suicide attempts, cries for help. And that would involve him cutting his wrists.

    “And that started at 18 and carried on for years. I remember very clearly, we were 22 I had started Pop Idol auditions, moving into live TV. And Rupert had really badly cut his wrists in Bristol. And then he came to the studios that weekend. Then his stitches burst open when I was about to go on and sing…”

    Will’s mum Annabel picks up the story. “He was standing in the wings. You went on, but his arm was dripping with blood by then. But he wouldn’t go to the ambulance until he’d seen you perform.”

    Will beat Gareth Gates to win the show
    Will beat Gareth Gates to win the show

    As the trio look back at childhood photos and films, Will and Rupert’s dad Robin says sadly: “He gave us a lot of joy. And it’s just…it seems such a waste that he is gone now.”

    “Good times, happy times…” adds mum Annabel.

    During the film, Will meets a young woman who has created a piece of artwork, as part of a project in Yorkshire, where families of those who’ve had loved ones battle addiction can embroider a piece of fabric with a message.

    Annabel looks back at family photos
    Annabel looks back at family photos

    She’s done this following her father’s own battle, and the pair view the huge fabric mural, and read the messages left by contributors.

    Both become teary as they share their own stories that gave led them to this point.

    Later Will returns with his own contribution, embroidered with the words, ‘It’s OK.’

    Will looks at the mural in honour of addicts and their families
    Will looks at the mural in honour of addicts and their families

    It’s Will’s message to Rupert, and symbolizes that he now understands that his brother eventually felt he couldn’t find the battle any more.

    Summing up Rupert’s story, Will tries to focus on the good times, as well as the very dark times, as he remembers his brother.

    “I just feel very grateful actually, that I got 42 years with him.”

    Will Young: Losing My Twin Rupert is on Channel 4, Tuesday at 10.05pm

    If you have been affected by this story, you can call the Samaritans on 116 123 or visit www.samaritans.org.

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