He is used to the bright lights of glamour as one of the most famous singer-songwriters this country has ever seen, not to mention having just appeared as a judge on The X Factor, but tonight we will see a different side to Gary Barlow as he travels to Afghanistan in this one off special.
Barlow is no stranger to good causes, having headed the all-star expedition team who climbed to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in 2009 raising millions of pounds for comic relief, as well as his tireless charity contributions over the decades he has been in the spotlight.
However this new mission will see him fly out to Camp Bastion to help Lance Corporal Shaun Fowler overcome his stage fright as well as performing on stage with him in front of his regiment.
Shaun, who used to be a self-employed builder before joining the army, had been chosen for the honour of performing with Gary after an audition process designed to help raise moral amongst our soldiers bravely protecting our country over this festive season.
Discussing the experience in a recent TV Times interview, Shaun had this to say:
“I was very much out of my comfort zone.
“It was nerve-racking, and being on stage with Gary Barlow telling you what to do was very strange. There were so many people there and the crowd was really close, so even though they were all giving me support, they were making me apprehensive as well.”
Gary Barlow: Journey To Afghanistan documents Gary’s trip over to war-torn Afghanistan, which had been taken over two years of planning, and of which Gary commented to TV Times:
“It was extremely emotional.
“We were all standing by the memorial for about 10 minutes one night, just reading the names, and it’s real, so real.
“It’s not a training exercise, there are missions every day. When the helicopters go up, it’s because they are going on a mission or to rescue someone.”
But it would seem that Gary’s presence helped ease some of the tension in camp, as Shaun went on to explain:
“It was an honour to have him here and show an interest in what we do, and for us to try and explain what our role is over here as well.
“It was the talk of the camp for weeks.
“Everybody has a spring in their step. When you go to a concert back home, you might have a pint or two, there’s no alcohol allowed here, but everybody was jumping, singing, waving their arms about and having a great time.”
Before concluding: “It’s the experience of a lifetime.
“I’ve enjoyed every moment, I really have. Obviously, I’m looking forward to being home with my loved ones, but it’s an honour to be here and do this job.”
Gary Barlow: Journey to Afghanistan can be seen tonight (Monday December 23) at 9pm on ITV1 / ITV1 HD – Listen to a radio interview with Gary discussing the documentary in the clip below: