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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 November 2005, 09:39 GMT
Will Young targets screen success
By Ian Youngs
BBC News entertainment reporter

Singer Will Young is aiming to build an acting career after making his film debut opposite Dame Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins in Mrs Henderson Presents.

Will Young in Mrs Henderson Presents
Will Young plays a wartime singer in Mrs Henderson Presents
When thousands of starry-eyed, fame-hungry fortune-seekers queue up to humiliate themselves on shows like X Factor, one name makes it all worthwhile - Will Young.

The 26-year-old star - who triumphed over Gareth Gates on Pop Idol in 2002 - is the only solo TV talent show winner to have carved out a long-term career in showbusiness.

Never mind that he is the exception and that the other winners faded back into oblivion as quickly as they rose.

Remember Michelle McManus, David Sneddon and Steve Brookstein? Not many people do.

Young has proved that lasting success can be achieved and dreams can come true.

He has won two Brit Awards, had four UK number one singles, two UK number one albums and his third album, Keep On, was released on Monday.

Will Young and Gareth Gates
Will Young has successfully shaken off his Pop Idol origins
After successfully evolving from Pop Idol winner to established solo singer, Young is now planning his next career move.

And it is another tricky path - just ask the likes of Madonna, Cher, David Bowie, Courtney Love, Jon Bon Jovi and Eminem.

Will Young is hoping to combine music with a career in serious acting - and has taken the first step by playing the star of a wartime theatre in light-hearted drama Mrs Henderson Presents.

While his performance is not likely to trouble the Oscar voters this time around, the experience has given Young a taste for the screen spotlight.

Nude revue

He would like to fit "quite a bit" more acting into his schedule when he finishes promoting his new album next summer, he tells the BBC News website.

"It would be nice to do some more acting then - either on stage in a straight role or another film," he says.

Will Young and Bob Hoskins in Mrs Henderson Presents
Bob Hoskins told Young he should appear in a gritty play next
In Mrs Henderson Presents, Young plays Bertie in the story of the Windmill Theatre in London's Soho, which kept the troops' spirits up by keeping its nude revue open during the Blitz.

Dame Judi Dench plays the lively widow Mrs Henderson, who buys the theatre, while Bob Hoskins stars as her irascible manager Vivian Van Damme.

"For a starting role, I couldn't have wished for anything better," Young says.

"The story really suited me, because of the people that I was working with and because it was based around a theatre."

Hoskins advice

Hoskins made a point of passing on some career advice, Young says.

"Bob says I should do something on stage next. He thinks that would be good for me - something quite gritty," he says. "Which is just wonderful that he says that to me."

I'm really interested in what it is to be English
Will Young
Young has ambitions to work with one of the UK's greatest directors - someone whose gritty, kitchen sink dramas would appear to be at odds with Young's pop star persona.

"Mike Leigh is my number one," Young says.

"I don't think there's anything that I've seen of his that I don't like, and I just love his take on Englishness.

English life copies the US in so many areas of life, such as politics, business and music, Young says, that homegrown films have an important part to play.

"We've got so much character and history, and you see that in this film, and you see that in Mike Leigh's films," Young says.

I think you should challenge people and challenge their perceptions of you, otherwise you can get stuck
Will Young
"I'm really interested in that - in what it is to be English."

Being a chart-topping pop star and serious actor are not incompatible, Young says - and he always tries to keep his image fresh.

"I just think that you should challenge people, and challenge their perceptions of you, otherwise you can get stuck."

"I've tried to do that in the past four years by moving on from being a talent show winner to being an established singer and artist, and then doing it again with this album."

The next step is being taken seriously as an actor. "I think I could do it."

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