It’s been 14 years since Welsh mobile phone salesman Paul Potts won Britain’s Got Talent, mesmerizing all with his god-given voice coupled with his beautiful and humble spirit.
Paul, who was left isolated and teased at school without knowing why, caught the attention of the whole world with his tenor voice, finally earning the respect that he deserved.
His life was adapted into a movie and Paul made millions off his music. But then things suddenly fell pretty quiet.
Today, we know that Paul has battled with his weight. Recently, he opened up on a succession of health problems …
At a young age, Paul Potts had trouble with his weight. He was born in Wales but grew up in Bristol, England, together with his mom, dad and three siblings. His father worked as a bus driver and his mother was a supermarket cashier.
Paul’s childhood has been described as difficult.
His father, Roland, “barely scraped a living working in a succession of manual jobs and his mother, Yvonne, attempted to contribute to the family income doing piece-work from home,” according to Daily Mail.
The pressure of the tricky economic situation at home sometimes led to chaos and fights. Paul still has several scars beneath his hairline.
“If I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, I’d get caught up in the fighting,” he said.
As a kid, Paul found solace in music. He took part in school and church choirs, where his love for singing developed.
Unfortunately, Paul experienced a trying time at school. He was often teased by his classmates, who called him ”Pol Pot” and ”loser”. It started when Paul was just seven and didn’t stop until he turned 18. Of course, all this affected his self-confidence and self-esteem, which was damaged for a long time to come.
Thankfully, the young Welshman could always find breathing space when he fled into the captivating world of books and music.
”Music makes me feel complete. It makes me feel like I’m me, and I’m good enough to be me. I don’t need to justify myself. During my childhood, I’d try to justify my existence to myself. I didn’t think I was good enough to be alive,” he said.
The negative experiences of his youth would later serve as fuel once Paul decided to pursue a career as a singer. Today, he looks back with no regrets.
”Without it I wouldn’t be who I am today,” Paul said.
Truth about singing career
When Paul Potts broke through and won Britain’s Got Talent, he was portrayed as a shabby mobile salesman who came from nowhere.
But the fact is that Paul had minor roles in operas as far back as 1999. He worked for Bath Opera, an amateur company, and would go on to star in operas as Basilio in Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro in 2000; Don Carlos in Verdi’s Don Carlos in 2001; Don Ottavio in Mozart’s Don Giovanni in 2003; and Radames in Verdi’s Aida in 2003.
After that, Paul toured Italy as a soloist. He also sang with the Royal Philharmonic in front of 15,000 people.
In other words, it was no inexperienced and totally unknown tenor who stepped up on stage for BGT in 2007. Of course, it was far from certain that he would take the chance and apply for talent program.
Unfortunately, Paul had an accident involving his bicycle in 2003, leaving him with a broken collarbone and whiplash.
It eroded his self-confidence once again, and he almost never applied for Britains Got Talent. He was weeks away from bankruptcy when BGT called and asked him to do an audition.
“I figured I was too old, probably too fat and wasn’t convinced I was good enough to get anywhere with it. In the end, I flipped a coin, I landed on heads and I submitted the application,” Paul said.
Amateur or not?
There were those who thought that Paul Potts tricked viewers behind the scenes, since he claimed that he was just an amateur singer.
Critics pointed out that Paul had toured in Italy and was an experienced entertainer who had received professional training. He was not simply a natural talent – but rather the product of hard work, according to his detractors.
However, Paul has always struck back at the critics. According to him, he never got paid to sing; it was always volunteer work at the amateur operas. And although he had paid to take singing lessons, everything came from his own pocket and via his own savings.
Before BGT and stardom, Paul had never been paid for a concert.
”I am angry about this because I have never earned anything, although I did get petrol expenses a couple of times,” Paul said in 2007.
Paul Pott wife
Paul has been happily married for 18 years to his wife Julie-Ann. They first met on an internet chat room in 2001.
“I was really bored one day. There was nothing on the telly, nothing to do so I went on to one of those MSN internet chat rooms. I’ve always been a bit wary of some of the people on there but Paul immediately seemed different. He was chatty and funny and we seemed to click right away,” Julie-Ann told Wales Online in 2009.
They talked via email for a couple of weeks before the pair decided to meet face to face. They liked each other immediately and within a year, Paul had proposed.
The couple tied the knot in May 2003, but their marriage was under severe pressure before Paul became a world-famous star.
As we know, Paul worked at a mobile warehouse and Julie Ann, known as Julz, worked with customer service. They were laden with debt and struggled to cope financially with everyday life.
According to Julie-Ann, her now millionaire singing husband hasn’t changed a bit since they met – he’s still that humble and down-to-earth man that she fell in love with 20 years ago.
“He’s still the same Paul. I hate shopping so when he’s home he tends to do the local shop. He’s really good at cooking so he goes and gets everything and I pick him up when he’s finished. I do help him pack for his tours but he tends to iron his own shirts and sort his suits out,” Julie-Ann told Wales Online in 2009.
There is no doubt that Paul holds his beloved wife in high regard – she’s always been by his side during highs and lows.
“She’s been my rock. Julie-Ann deserves a nice reward for putting up with me because I’m a pain in the neck,” he said.
Paul Potts children
Both Paul, 50, and Julie-Ann, 40, have expressed a desire to start a family and have children. But for various reasons, the couple have no kids.
When they first met, their financial situation was too unstable to have children. Paul and Julie-Ann wanted to wait. Then, after Paul won BGT, it wasn’t the best time for the couple to be raising a baby.
Unfortunately, Julie-Ann has also been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, a condition caused by an imbalance of reproductive hormones. Infertility is sadly common in those who suffer from it.
“She’s having treatment, though we’re not at the IVF stage yet… She needs to lose some weight – we both do – before they’ll start her on medication that will help her ovulate. I never want to get to the stage where we’ve turned having a baby into a military exercise, because then it stops being about love. I just think things will come out right,” Paul said.
Time will tell if Paul and Julie-Ann can welcome children, but if it happens then maybe they can look forward to real baby boom …
”Paul has a history of twins in his family and my mum said she would always help out when we do eventually have children. I know fertility treatment can increase your chances of having a multiple birth so I’ve joked that we’d like quads but my mum said she’d run away if we did!,” Julie-Ann told Welsh Online.
Weight loss journey
Throughout his life, Paul has struggled with his weight. A few years ago, he opened up about his battles, and how he managed to slim down significantly.
”My weight yo-yoed during my 20s but going to the gym and following Weight Watchers meant I was able to lose 3st in two months quite easily,” he said.
However, his weight journey came to an abrupt end when doctors found a tumor in his stomach. Thankfully, surgery went well, though it was a huge challenge for the singer to keep up with his workout routines after his operation.
He struggled to maintain a healthy weight and the pounds returned.
Today, he uses a new, somewhat unconventional, method to stay in shape.
”I go by how clothes feel. If they feel tight, I need to lose weight. If they feel slack, I’m doing OK but need to try harder,” he said.
The latest pictures of Paul testify to the fact that he is feeling well and has dropped a few pounds. The famous singer is keen to look after himself these days.
But he also owes his chocolate labs a big thank you for staying fit.
“I have some gym equipment at home and I do weights occasionally, but I prefer walking with my pooches,” he added.
“I get plenty of gym exercise with them!”
I love seeing people like Paul succeed and overcome all the odds.
It gives everyone hope. He’s a star in EVERY sense of the word, and a lovely guy to boot. Never judge a book by its cover!