Our House mate
PUBLISHED: 12:44 17 July 2008 | UPDATED: 17:13 16 August 2010
2005 Getty Images
HE was the first winner of hit ITV talent show The X-Factor but it s likely most of the show s viewers will remember former pub singer Steve Brookstein for the mauling he received from sharp-tongued harridan Sharon Osborne in the final. After the show t
HE was the first winner of hit ITV talent show The X-Factor but it's likely most of the show's viewers will remember former pub singer Steve Brookstein for the mauling he received from sharp-tongued harridan Sharon Osborne in the final.
After the show the 39-year-old soulman was picked up by 'Mr Nasty' Simon Cowell and together they put out a hit number one single Against All Odds in December 2004 followed by a number one record Heart and Soul six months later.
Despite the success Brookstein was not happy with the way the records turned out. "I never wanted to be a pop star, I wanted to be a recording artist," he says. "My main gripe was the fact that I did a cheesy, poppy, karaoke-style album. There were some good bits on it but generally speaking it wasn't aimed at a connoisseur of music.
"I didn't mind doing the covers I just wanted to do them in a different way. If you are going to take a song you should put your own stamp on it. I think the worst thing to do is to do it in a karaoke fashion. I don't see the point of buying my version of Hang on in There Baby when the version by Johnny Bristol is fantastic."
Shortly after the release of Heart and Soul the singer parted company with Cowell and even now, more than three years on, he is clearly disappointed by the way his career was handled.
"I was in a position where I was being told what to do. I wasn't given any consideration," he says. "My view was totally irrelevant. I didn't want total control, I just wanted to have a say. Simon had never worked with a soul artist before. He works with Power Rangers, Zig and Zag, 5ive and that sort of act.
"He wasn't in tune with what I wanted. Everyone falls out with some people sometimes I just happened to fall out with one of the most powerful people in media."
Now, after his self-produced second album 40,000 Things failed to break the top 150 on its release in 2006, the singer is working hard to reinvent himself as a performer in musical theatre. He is currently touring the UK alongside Only Fools and Horses star Gwyneth Strong in an Olivier Award-winning production of Our House, which features the music of 80s two-tone ska group Madness.
Brookstein plays the dead father of a 16-year-old who finds his life at a crossroads after a stunt performed to show off to his girlfriend goes wrong.
"It's the story of a kid who does something wrong on his 16th birthday and has the choice to either own up or make a run for it. It's a bit like Sliding Doors, where you see these two lives going side by side. If he had gone one route his life would have turned out one way or if he had gone another route it would have turned out a different way.
"It's quite funny in parts but quite touching. It's interesting to see how his life would have turned out."
While he may be known for his smooth renditions of soul classics, Brookstein says he has a great respect for the quality of the tunes in the musical.
"I was a fan back in the 80s but I was surprised just how much the songs that aren't as well known really do blossom in a musical environment," he says. "It's not one of these shows where you think the story was written around the songs. It's such a strong sentimental story line and the songs like Baggy Trousers, House of Fun and Our House are all great but there are other songs that Madness wrote that really do come to the fore. The Sun and the Rain and Tomorrow's Just Another Day are absolutely fantastic. They are extremely well-written songs."
The singer has received positive reviews for his performance and says he is looking forward to auditioning for more acting-based roles in the future.
"It's something I've always wanted to do and I've always wondered whether or not I could do it. I must be doing okay because they have given me more lines as opposed to taking them away from me so I'm really flattered by that," he says.
"The feedback I have been getting is such that I feel more confident to go for other roles. I'd like to continue this role for as long as they want me to do it for but obviously there will be a point where it stops.
"I'd like to try my hand at a more demanding role with more acting than singing so I'm looking into that at the moment."
* Our House runs until Saturday at The Churchill, Bromley. Call the box office on 0870 060 6620 for tickets and information.