The 2005 X Factor winner on his relationship Simon Cowell, his Irish Traveller parents and 
his supportive gay fanbase

Was it nice being welcomed back 
into the X Factor fold last year?
It was wicked to be part of the show that made me and to be welcomed back as an artist, rather than just as a talent show winner. I literally had the best fun.

Did you feel Simon Cowell’s label Syco gave you the cold shoulder in putting acts like Susan Boyle first?
I never saw it as getting the cold shoulder, it just took that long to get the right material. The music industry kept changing. Every time we went into the studio and came back with the material the music industry had changed sounds from, like, from pop to indie. Suddenly 
it was three years later.

There are rumours flying around that you said you were going to prove Simon Cowell wrong with your new LP.
I never said that. What do I need to prove something to Simon for? He’s my label boss. As long as I deliver in the studio and on my performances … I would never say something stupid like that.

Did it hurt when Louie Walsh 
stopped managing you?
I think for both of us, to walk 
away from a working relationship 
was gutting but we haven’t walked 
away from the friendship.

Was there an innocence in the early days of X Factor? Now there’s so much  backbiting with all the contestants slagging each other off in the press. 
But that’s what keeps the public wanting more, they want to hear stuff like that. That’s what makes the show work.
The promo you did for your latest album Obsession shows you with your top off, rolling around in the dirt and wet T-shirts. What’s that all about?
The label knew I was going to the gym and taking care of myself so there was 
this idea for me to take my top off.  
At first I didn’t really want to but it got 
a great reaction. It’s funny cos Simon’s 
right-hand man messaged me and said: “Shayne, I’m not gay, but you look hot.”

Are you courting the gay market?
I’ve always had a good gay response. 
And the pink pound is very strong and they are very loyal supporters. I was in 
a band for five years with a gay couple 
so I’ve always had that support anyway. It’s great if I get that reaction.

Your parents are Irish Travellers. 
Do Irish Travellers get a bad rap?

Of course they do. Irish Travellers shouldn’t be judged just because one 
batch are doing something horrible. 
A hell of a lot of them are quite respectful with family values and send their kids 
to school.

Your dad’s in prison [for rape] do you ever visit him?
No, I haven’t contacted him for six years.

How did you feel when Gary Barlow said that you were considered as 
a replacement for Jason Orange 
if he walked out of Take That?

It was a great compliment, I couldn’t believe it. I got a bit of a big head at 
the time. It would have been a great experience but I’m a big fan so when 
you see a band like Take That break 
up and get back together you want 
the original members. 

What’s your 
guilty pleasure?
Ben & Jerry’s cookie 
dough ice-cream.

What song would 
you like played at 
your funeral?
When You Were Sweet Sixteen, by the Fureys.

Biggest phobia?
Rollercoasters – I 
hate them.

» Shayne Ward performs at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, W11 8QE   Shepherd’s Bush. (0844 811 0051) Wed, March 16. £26.50. New single Obsession out 
February 14 through Syco.

Alison Grinter