12:00pm Thursday 31st March 2005
Will Young did it and Gareth Gates was hot on his heels - but do you have what it takes to be the next Pop Idol? The Worcester News speaks to one talented young man who is hoping to make county youngsters' dreams come true - but it comes with a warning.
ADMIT it - go on. Cast your mind back. Can you remember belting your heart out in front of the mirror, singing into a hairbrush and strutting some dodgy dance moves across your bedroom carpet?
Your dreams of being the next Kylie, Elvis or Michael Jackson, loved by millions of adoring fans and living a life of luxury, seemed impossibly far away.
But with shows like Pop Idol, Fame Academy and The X-Factor hitting our screens and making unknowns like Will Young, Lemar and members of the group Girls Aloud overnight singing sensations, the dreams of fame and fortune no longer seem to be so out of the question.
Music is a multi-million pound industry and more and more of us seem eager to cash in on it. But is it that easy?
Eighteen-year-old Malvern teenager Ben Humphrey is reaching for the stars, but thanks to a year at the Bristol Old Vic stage school, his feet are firmly on the floor.
Now, he's helping youngsters in Worcestershire realise their dancing, acting and singing potentials - but is keen to tell them that being a Pop Idol is no mean feat.
"Programmes such as Fame Academy are fantastic shows to watch, but they attract people who want to be famous rather than do the job," said Ben.
"If you want the job it's not about money or being famous because 90 per cent of the time you're out of work anyway.
"I have known I wanted to be an actor since I was five and I've thought of nothing else; the only way you succeed is pure grit and determination."
Ben is so determined that he has only ever gone three weeks without attending a rehearsal or audition - and even worked when he was suffering a brain abscess.
"Being a pop star or actor isn't the glamorous profession it's cracked up to be," he said.
"A lot of the time you're exhausted, work long days, look like rubbish and feel like rubbish, but those few minutes of applause at the end of the show make it all worth it."
The former Worcester King's School pupil fought off 6,000 other applicants to win one of the 12 places at the prestigious Bristol Old Vic school - and is now keen to spread what he has learnt in his first year of his degree in professional acting. He is currently he is helping youngsters at Malvern Hills Gymnastic Class inject some funky dance moves into their floor exercises as they prepare for a major competition in Scotland next month.
He is planning a two-week summer school for budding dancers, singers and actors in Worcestershire, culminating in a show at the end, and he's busy drafting in the help of professional teachers from across the country.
"The chance to perform and learn skills are really lacking in Worcestershire," he said.
"There are so many talented kids out there but nowhere for them to show that potential, which is a real shame. I'm hoping to change that and give something back."
n If you want to attend Ben's summer school or would like his advice, contact him at benjamin_humphrey@ hotmail.com
To join Malvern Hills Gymnastic Club call Lorraine Barson on 01684 574970.
Tell us a story
UP to one million unmarried couples who "live in sin" could benefit from plans for a new law that would protect them financially if they split up.
Campaign group Resolution is calling for Worcestershire people who have had a relationship breakdown and been left financially ruined to tell their stories.
It is hoped that with real-life tales, Resolution can build a true picture to help law-makers see why new legislation is needed to safeguard unmarried couple's finances.
To tell your story, log on to www.resolution.org.uk
EVEN our pets find the long winters hard going and are in need of a well-deserved pampering, according to animal lovers.
Now the country is set to celebrate National Pet Week, from Saturday, April 30, to Sunday, May 8, and advice is being dished out on how to care for your pets and prepare them for the summer.
Top tips include putting hutches in shaded areas, getting them vaccinated and keeping pets clean and well-groomed.
SUPERMARKET giant ASDA has announced it has rolled back the price of its men's and women's George jeans from £4 to £3.
With nearly seven per cent of the population last year alone wearing a pair of jeans from George, the move represents a price investment of £2.5m. It also means that George jeans will be less than a bottle of wine, chart CD or even a ready meal.
ALMOST one third of British men now use moisturiser, with half doing so on a daily basis.
The traditional reluctance among men to buy skincare products themselves also appears to have lessened.
In the poll by researchers TNS, 73 per cent of males said they were happy to buy moisturiser themselves rather than have their girlfriend or wife get it.
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