Pop Idol 2002 was the year of the brave – Will Young famously shut down Simon Cowell’s claim that his performance was ‘average’, and a 16-year-old Gareth Gates fought through his stammer to share his remarkable talent.
Born in Bradford, Gareth had shown a flair for music at a young age, joining the Bradford Cathedral Choir at nine and achieving grade eight on the piano, classical guitar and singing.
After coming second to Will, now 42, in the ITV pop contest, Gareth’s debut single, Unchained Melody, shot to number one and went double-platinum.
His next two singles also went straight to the top of the charts and Smash Hits declared October 7, 2002, as International Gareth Gates Day.
But fame is a fickle beast, and Gareth’s second album Go Your Own Way dropped down to number 32 after just one week.
And his reputation harshly took a beating when it emerged that he’d lost his virginity to a pregnant Katie Price after he was spotted sneaking out of her hotel room on CCTV.
Gareth insisted they hadn’t hooked up at first, but later admitted: “I denied the whole Jordan thing because I was 17, I didn’t want my family to find out about my sex life.”
And the fall-out even saw him turn his back on fame.
“It wasn’t too long after that I decided to take a break from the industry,” he once told New! magazine.
“It wasn’t the reason I wanted to be a pop star. There are stars out there who are out there for the wrong reasons. I wanted to be recognised for my talent.”
As for Katie, 42, she confessed that she was looking for love in all the wrong places.
“It’s terrible – I was still young, I was pregnant, I didn’t have the dad about and I still wanted to be loved,” she previously said.
“It was wrong when I look back. It was over in seconds!”
Gareth was let go by his record label, Sony BMG, in 2006 while working on a third album, Pictures of the Other Side, which he later released under UMTV, but that too failed to make an impact.
However, he found the perfect platform for his talent in musical theatre, and has since forged an extremely successful stage career for himself.
The star has performed in everything from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat to Les Mis, Legally Blonde and Boogie Nights.
And in 2013 he teamed up with Dane Bowers, Adam Rickitt, Blazin’ Squad star Kenzie and singer Kavana to form a ‘super group’ for ITV documentary, The Big Reunion.
Gareth met his future wife Suzanne Mole when she was a dancer at the Record of the Year Awards in 2002.
They married in 2008 and their daughter Missy was born the following year.
But in 2012, the pair announced their split with Gareth explaining they had ‘grown apart’.
He said: “Despite our efforts over the past three years to make our marriage work, sadly Suzanne and I have decided to separate.
“Whilst we have grown apart, we love and cherish our wonderful daughter Missy and together we will prioritise her happy upbringing.”
He subsequently dated Coronation Street actress Faye Brookes for almost seven years before they called off their engagement in 2019.
The singer-turned-actor now lives with DJ Chloe McLennan, 30, has has spent six years transforming himself into a beefcake.
Achieving his ripped body has been no mean feat. He works out for two hours a day and bench presses 120kg. To keep his body fuelled, he eats 4,000 calories but focuses on clean food and protein shakes.
“It’s taken me six years to get this body. I got into the gym when I was 30 and stopped partying,” he told The Sun.
“But in the last couple of years I’ve started to take my fitness really seriously.
“I would rather look good – and more importantly feel good – and be up for the gym than waste the day hungover.”
While Gareth is in the best shape of his life, his finances took a hit to the eye-watering tune of £250,000.
He unknowingly used a dodgy money trader to invest the princely sum but soon realised his money had been lost.
“I’m more careful now as I got burnt once and lost £250,000,” he told the Sunday Times last year.
“I was a victim of that. I got nothing back and it was a big learning curve for me.
“I learnt a big lesson that I invested a little bit more than I possibly should have.”
And in 2017 Gareth addressed an issue that had been bothering him for some time – his thinning hair.
The star underwent a hair transplant after years of struggling with hair loss.
“I’m constantly on stage so image is a big, big thing for me and I have to look my best,” he explained at the time.
“I’m nervous but I’m really, really excited as well. I can’t wait to get it done and lose all that self-consciousness about my hair thinning.”
As for Will – who he recorded a duet of The Beatles’ Long and Winding Road with – he confirmed that they’re still friends and always will be.
“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,” he said in 2017.
“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.”