BBC The Choir star Gareth Malone: I should have hit back at gay jibes at school

I should have hit back at the gay jibes at school, says Gareth the choirmaster
BBC star says taunts at school almost pushed him to violenceStar still receives jibes even after moving into television

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UPDATED:

07:29 GMT, 29 May 2012


Beaten his demons: Gareth Malone, pictured at the BAFTAs in London this week, says at school he was 'always on the verge of exploding into violence'

Beaten his demons: Gareth Malone, pictured at the BAFTAs in London this week, says at school he was 'always on the verge of exploding into violence'

Gareth Malone has revealed his regret that he never fought back against the bullies who tormented him at school.

The mild-mannered star of BBC hit show The Choir was targeted with taunts that he was gay but said that although he was always on the edge of taking violent revenge he always suppressed the urge.

Now, however, he is left wondering if that was the right decision.

And he spoke of his disappointment that similar jibes followed him into the world of television.

Bespectacled Malone, 36, a married father of one, grew up in Bournemouth.

Talking about his days as a freckle-faced schoolboy he admitted that being bullied was ‘ghastly’.

He added: ‘You have those moments where you don’t want to get up and go to school.

‘I was always on the edge of exploding into violence. I definitely have a temper – but I never did because I always somehow didn’t want to lose my dignity.

‘It never quite got to ‘‘I’m just going to lamp them’’, but looking back I kind of wish I had because it would have solved it.

‘I am not endorsing violence, but maybe it would have been better to just have a bit of a scrap in the playground.’

The bullies may well have had a lucky escape.

No one who watched Malone propel the Military Wives to the number one spot last Christmas with Wherever You Are could doubt the steel within his slight build.

He said the real key was to give people the tools to deal with the problem themselves, which for him was in music and the arts.

He is married to Becky, an English teacher in an inner-city school, and they have a baby daughter, Esther.

But Malone – who ten years ago was an out-of-work music graduate – has still suffered jokes about his sexuality.

The star, who is on protein drinks to bulk up his muscles and goes to the gym, told Radio Times: ‘It was slightly disappointing, after leaving school and leaving all that behind me from the age of about 15 to 30, to come into television and discover ‘‘Oh right, everyone is just as juvenile as the kids at school were!’’

‘I mean, I am fairly flamboyant and expressive, but I know plenty of gay people who are incredibly repressed and aren’t showy and don’t like Judy Garland, you know.’

However, he said he had now ‘exorcised his demons’.

Expressive: Gareth Malone with members of the Military Wives choir, which he created himself

Expressive: Gareth Malone with members of the Military Wives choir, which he created himself

Malone, who taught music to underprivileged children before dreaming up the idea for The Choir, said it was difficult to get men to sing because they don’t want to make ‘idiots’ of themselves and generally believe singing is only acceptable at football or in the bath.

He added that he had often heard it said that singing ‘is a bit gay’ or ‘makes you gay’ or ‘gay-ifies you’.

The Military Wives choir – created by Malone – is made up of partners of service personnel who have been away at war.

He is now filming another series of The Choir to air later this year and has also shot a pilot for a new show in America, where The Choir is being shown on BBC America.