Gareth Gates faces stutter fear on live TV: ‘This is really hard for me’

Gareth Gates has faced his fear of stuttering on live TV appearing on BBC Breakfast to talk about his new role starring as Squidward in the UK’s tour of The SpongeBob Musical.

The Bradford-born singer, who found fame on TV talent show Pop Idol, previously said thinking about the interview had given him “sleepless nights” and had filled him with anxiety.

Gates, who appeared to struggle with his stutter during the interview on Tuesday morning, said pushing himself out of his comfort zone is the only way to “overcome that fear”.

The 38-year-old said: “I’ve always found it hard to speak and you can’t really overcome that fear unless you force yourself into situations, this is really, really hard for me, until you face it head on.

“So thank you for having me on the show.”

Gates, who had to learn to tap dance for his role in The SpongeBob Musical, described musical theatre as a “real escape” to presenters Ben Thompson and Sally Nugent.

He said: “I find my speech tricky at times, yet if I’ve learned a script and I’m in character I can speak on stage, so that’s why I love doing as much kind of musical theatre as I can.”

Nugent replied: “Thank you for coming in and facing your fear. I know that we’ve probably got used to it but live television is hard, it’s not easy.

“I think when people feel nervous on the sofa, it’s really easy to say ‘Oh, don’t be nervous it’s just us’, but actually it’s fine to be nervous.”

BBC Breakfast new presenter
BBC Breakfast presenter Sally Nugent (James Stack/BBC/PA)

The interview came after Gates posted a video to his social media explaining how he felt accepting an invitation to appear on BBC Breakfast.

He told almost 96,000 fans said: “I’ve been asked to do an interview on BBC Breakfast next week, live and I’m filled with anxiety. I’m having sleepless nights over it.

“I’ve done thousands of these interviews in the past but my speech in that particular speaking situation at the minute isn’t great. And I absolutely know I’m going to find it a real struggle.

“So I have to ask myself, do I let the fear control me and take over me and say no to the interview? Or do I face it head on, knowing full well I’m going to find it a challenge, but to not let fear win?”

Gates said he was going to do the BBC Breakfast interview “because I refuse to let fear control my life”.

He also encouraged anyone in a similar situation to “not let fear get the better of you” and face it head on because only then “will you see that fear diminish”.