Gareth Gates 'couldn't stop crying' on Celebrity SAS after facing past abuse over stammer

The former Pop Idol finalist spoke to Yahoo UK about his struggles on the Channel 4 show

Gareth Gates in Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins (Channel 4)
Gareth Gates in Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins (Channel 4)

Gareth Gates found he "couldn't stop crying" during his time on Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins after he was forced to face the traumatic abuse he has experienced in the past over his stammer, he tells Yahoo UK.

The former Pop Idol star's speech impediment saw him be abused both mentally and physically growing up, and before appearing on the Channel 4 show these were "demons [he] had been suppressing" until the show's Directing Staff (DS) made him confront it in their Mirror Room interviews with him.

"The whole [experience] being in the Mirror Room and having to chat to the DS was quite a daunting prospect for me," Gates says.

Read more: Everything to know about Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins

"The chat in the Mirror Room was pretty much all of about my speech, [it was] the first time in about 25 years I got back to some of her demons that I had been suppressing over the years, that was how badly I was bullied at school.

I was physically beaten at times, the emotional abuse was hard, and to address that, and talk about that so openly, knowing that the whole nation's gonna be watching, was hard.Gareth Gates

The singer adds, "I said to myself that before I went in 'I'm actually gonna keep it together', but as soon as I started to talk about that the flood gates opened and I couldn't stop crying."

Gareth Gates in Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins (Channel 4)
Gareth Gates in Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins (Channel 4)

Gates reveals that the show helped him realise that he is now "quite strong and resilient" as a result of the trauma he has faced in the past, because he's "developed quite a thick skin over the years."

Reflecting on his conversations in the Mirror Room, Gates goes on: "It was awful. It was the first time I've opened up that much about that time of my life, and my speech as a result was really bad.

"I really, really struggled. I didn't have the luxury of having a speech coach with me, but in a weird sort of way I'm glad I did it because it has made me find the inner strength I didn't know that I had."

Music - Pop Idol finalists - 2002
Gareth Gates and Will Young were 2002's Pop Idol finalists. (Alamy/PA) (Myung Jung Kim, PA Images)

Gates first spoke publicly about his stammer when he appeared on Pop Idol in 2002, and the singer now says that he feels it is "one of [his] greatest achievements" in life to have helped heighten awareness of stammering, and he is "hoping this [show] does the same."

Read more: Matt Hancock gets slammed to the floor in first look at Celebrity SAS

The musician appears on the show alongside a host of other famous faces, including politician Matt Hancock, The Only Way is Essex star James Argent and fellow singer Michelle Heaton amongst several others, and the group are put through tough military training that is used for the real Special Forces.

The process was gruelling but Gates was surprised by how the DS's treated him, as he shares, "I think I was expecting the worst, I was expecting them to somehow use [my stammer] against me.

"But actually they're good people, they aren't there to break you down they're actually there to assist you to find within yourself that strength that you didn't know you had.

Gareth Gates on Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins (Channel 4)
Gareth Gates on Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins (Channel 4)

"I found they were very, very patient with me, and I think they respected in a way I could do the show and also how my affliction has made me a much stronger person, and I think they had respect for that."

Gates hopes his experiences will come as a help to others, adding: "My speech was awful at times, but I managed to dig in and come out the other side stronger.

"So hopefully there's people, not just people who find it hard to speak with any sort of affliction, [who will see] that even though I didn't really want to do this whole experience — and I had to really think about doing it knowing how hard it was going to be particularly with my speech — I did do it, and I threw myself into it and and hopefully people watching it will get something done that."

Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins premieres on Channel 4 on Tuesday, 26 September at 9.30pm and continues every Sunday from 1 October.

Watch the trailer for Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins: