Sat 1 & Sun 2 June 2024, Brockwell Park, London

From the bonny banks of Scotland to the bright lights of Bognor Regis, the original Pop Idol Michelle McManus is coming to Butlin’s, baby!

We sat down with Michelle ahead of her big debut to talk set lists, Rylan and Robbie, and what overwhelmed her after the line up was announced…

The McManussaince is here, and we are so happy to be chatting with you Michelle! How has life been treating you recently?

I have such a lovely, lovely life. I’ve always been so lucky, ever since winning the show which was twenty years ago which is mental. I’ve got my husband and two little babies, I work for BBC, so life is so lovely. I feel very lucky with everything that’s happened to me 


We are living for your fantastic radio show, especially recently when we saw you interviewed fellow Hoopla superfan Rylan. How does it feel to have another iconic career path under your belt?

It’s been so lovely because if I’d just relied on the singing I probably wouldn’t even be talking to you right now. When I won the show all those years ago, everything changed since then with The X Factor and social media. I never looked like a popstar, I was never going to sell loads of merchandise, and it was just such a different time. There wasn’t a lot to do for me, so my singing career ended before it began. 

I just took this opportunity from being on the biggest TV show and really quickly got into TV presenting and radio, and it’s all just been so good to me. 

Rylan and I met at Manchester Pride years ago, when I was performing, and he was just such a lovely boy. From there he asked me to host his book tour, and come on his radio show. We’ve met all through this amazing movement online, which has just been the funniest and most amazing thing ever. The LGBTQ+ community have always been there for me, even when I wasn’t getting booked in the beginning they always booked me for Prides, and it’s all thanks to that community. I really wouldn’t have survived those first couple of years if I hadn’t had those bookings. 

This job is so lovely and I get to meet amazing people like Rylan and Robbie, but it’s so lovely and I’m so lucky and I feel like I’m in a great place.


Let’s talk Hoopla – have you had a Mighty Hoopla experience before, or are you popping your cherry with us at Big Weekender?

I am a Hoopla virgin, which I am ashamed to say! But I’ve seen everything online, and my friends are always telling me it’s so amazing. I am so up for it, I want to give a really fantastic performance, and round everyone’s weekend experience off on Sunday! I want to go out there and have lots of fun, look as glam as possible, I’ve already got my fake eyelashes stocked up. I’m so excited, I can’t believe I’ve never been before! 


What is it about the Mighty Hoopla community that you resonate so much with?

It’s just complete acceptance, and never at any stage for that community was I anyone other than Michelle McManus who won Pop Idol. I was never Flop Idol, I wasn’t overweight or not attractive to be a pop star, there were no questions asked. You are you, we accept you for you, we love you for you, and it’s the ethos of inclusivity. The person I am and the person I was was enough. I didn’t have to try and lose weight or be different, everyone just accepted me and let me party with them. 


When we announced you on our line up, our community went WILD. How did it feel to get so much love? 

It was overwhelming! It’s been 20 years, and these things all come round. People love to look back and see simpler times, especially at the moment when everything’s so difficult with the cost of living crisis and NHS. I was just so overwhelmed by how lovely everyone was, I couldn’t believe people had even picked my name out of the line up! I was honestly over the moon. 


What can we expect from your Big Weekender set?

I’m a big belter, I only sing live – I do what we say in Scotland and get up there and give it laldy! I think my set is a real mixture of music that I’ve released over the years and songs I absolutely love, things that I don’t get to sing very often, and songs I’ve wished I could sing. There’s also songs from my album ‘The Meaning of Love’ because I think it’s important to honour some songs on there because they’re really important to me. Even the other day when my dancers called me asking me what to do, I couldn’t believe I had dancers! All I know is I’m going to go out there and give it my best, I’m packed my set out, and I want everyone to get to the end of their weekend and know they’ve had a ball. 


If you could duet or partner up with another performer on our line up, who would it be and why?

This has been very hard for me because there’s so many amazing people on that lineup, and so many people I’ll have to try and remain cool around if I bump into them. But I saw that N-Trance are performing, and I was OBSESSED with her voice on Set You Free. That was a big track for me growing up in the 90s, and it means more to me because she’s Scottish too. You’ve also got Jayde Adams, not only is she the most hilarious woman ever but she is some singer! And she can bloody dance, is there anything that woman can’t do?! But anybody on that line up I’d be honoured to duet with! 


If you could have one dream Hoopla headliner, who would it be?

Where do you start? I am not afraid to admit that I am a Celine Dion obsessive, so that would be amazing. Someone iconic, someone nineties – obviously the Spice Girls would be amazing, a strong female band would be unbelievable. 


Do you have a message for your megafans who can’t wait to see you?

Thank you so much for being so lovely, you’re going to have the best weekend, and I hope I can be the cherry on top of your Hoopla cake on Sunday! 


Michelle, we’ve been waiting All The Time for your return. See you in Bognor!