Gareth Gates launches music event in Bradford 20 years after Pop Idol

Gareth Gates has spoken about surviving two decades in the spotlight as he returned to Bradford exactly 20 years after bursting to stardom on Pop Idol.

The Bradford-born entertainer was just 17 when he was runner-up to Will Young on the ITV talent show in 2002.

Despite missing out on the victory, the show launched his career, with hit records, West End performances and worldwide stardom following.

But now he is heading back to Bradford – and the Odsal stadium – to become an events director in the city.

He said: "I'm from Bradford, from Yorkshire so I owe a lot to this amazing city and our aim as events people is to bring world class music events to the city, to Odsal stadium.

"I've always thought, why should Bradford have to go to neighbouring cities to see that incredible entertainment? So we're putting on various events here and giving something back."

Before he came to the nation's attention, Gareth was making a name for himself in Yorkshire, with his first television appearance coming on the Tonight Show hosted by Calendar's Christine Talbot.

He said: "The very first time I was on TV was The Tonight Show with Christine all those years ago, and yes I have achieved more than what I could ever have dreamed of."

When he made it onto Pop Idol, and stood in front of the judging panel of Simon Cowell, Pete Waterman, Neil Fox and Nicki Chapman at ITV's studios, it took him five minutes to say his name due to his stammer.

And he says his battles to control his speech continue.

"My speech is an ongoing battle, I have to work and work and work," he said.

"What everybody can't see behind the camera is that I have a speech coach and he kind of jumps on me when I'm not speaking right.

"But it's just one of those things that I have to go through and actually it's made me a much stronger person."

Gareth Gates will headline The Big Pop Festival in Bradford this September.