harrowing, brave and deeply honest

Singer Will Young rose to fame on the back of Pop Idol, one of the first major TV talent shows of modern times, but he had a twin brother whose life went the other way. Rupert Young was a better looking, athletic, extrovert will that hurt intensely Will Young: Losing my twin Rupert (Channel 4), probably expects the same success as his brother. Instead, Rupert fell as Will mounted. He ended up on Will’s sofa as an alcoholic from 2016 and took his own life in 2020.

“During Pop Idol, drinking started to take off,” Will said. “But the anxiety and depression he felt was there before the alcohol.”

It’s to Young’s credit that he even addressed issues like this in a television documentary. Was it the sudden success of one twin that boosted the other twin? There was a terrifying moment in the film where Will was shown auditioning for Pop Idol, despite knowing his brother was backstage, having recently slit his wrists – and not for the first time. This retrospective was full of such harrowing moments, and neither Young nor the film shied away from them.

For example, was it boarding school from the age of nine (where both twins were hit with slippers and Rupert was once grabbed by the throat) that caused the first cracks in Rupert’s mental health? The two came from a wealthy, loving, upper-middle class background, and both parents were featured in the documentary. “I’d like to know when it went wrong,” his father said. “There was nothing wrong with him at all.”

Faced with such questions, Young went in search of answers, but at this point the film lost direction. Young transitioned from a heartbreaking, deeply personal exploration of his own grief and guilt to a role as a television host on the One Show segment.

He wanted, he said, to explore the impact alcoholism can have on families, so he met a podcaster, a frontline addiction treatment expert, and a woman whose own alcoholic father had led her to start a project in which sufferers get involved by addicts who sewed messages into handkerchiefs that they sewed together. All of this diluted the intense sadness of the first half hour and the story of how the twins had been torn apart.

Of course, Young’s motives for making the film in the first place were valid: “Other people are going to experience this, and I don’t want people to feel alone.” But in truth, by being so candid about his own experiences, he had already accomplished that task spoke with – and love for – his brother. There wasn’t a ‘when it went wrong’ to uncover, and from what we’ve seen here, there was little anyone in his family, who all evidently loved Rupert to the core, would do be able. So Losing My Twin Rupert was in many ways an exercise in acceptance. Young himself sewed one of these handkerchiefs. It read, “It’s fine.”

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/tv/0/will-young-losing-twin-rupert-review-harrowing-brave-deeply/ harrowing, brave and deeply honest


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