BRITAIN’s Got Talent star Glen Murphy has revealed he was living a “double life” as he struggled with depression ahead of winning The Champions.
The street dancer, from Twist and Pulse, says he was wrestling with the “hardest personal battles” and felt unable to talk about his mental health before lifting the trophy alongside co-star Ashley Glazebrook.
It followed three traumatic moments in one year – a relationship break-up, the suicide of his friend Jack Saunders and his grandad being gravely ill.
Viewers at home and even dance partner Ash were unaware that Glen was suffering with “crippling panic attacks”, anxiety and depression back in 2019.
Now the London-born star, 32, lifts the lid in an exclusive interview with The Sun as he releases his song Made It Out Alive to encourage people to open up.
He tells us: “It felt like I was living a double life. It was a tough year and I was going through my hardest personal battles.
“I went through a break up with my partner and then my grandad became really ill in the hospital. We feared he wouldn’t make it many times.
“It also was the same year that my friend Jack Saunders took his own life. He reached the semi-finals in Britain’s Got Talent with Green Force Five.
“To get through it I put on a mask and a front. I felt I needed to hide my feelings in rehearsals but inside I worried about needing to be at my grandad’s side and getting there too late.
“It was a vicious cycle. I wasn’t really speaking to anyone and I hadn’t even told Ash. The only thing he knew was that my grandad was in the hospital.”
‘Draining & exhausting’
Glen’s struggles came nine years after the duo initially appeared on Britain’s Got Talent in 2010 and left the nation in stitches.
The dancers, who “instantly clicked” at Brit School, devised their hilarious routine to songs including the EastEnders theme and The Cheeky Girls during their college lunch breaks.
Twist and Pulse, who came second in their original bid on the ITV talent show, were invited back for Britain’s Got Talent: The Champions in 2019.
Remarkably, they were crowned winners after beating acts including Stavros Flatley and Kseniya Simonova.
But away from the cameras Glen was struggling with his mental health.
Glen says: “It was really hard, draining and exhausting. What made it worse was that I wasn’t really speaking to anyone.
“When I was late for rehearsals because of therapy sessions and dealing with how emotional they were, I told him I was having physio on my neck.”
‘No control over my body’
Twist and Pulse were one of five acts to hear the Golden Buzzer that year, which meant they automatically qualified for the finals.
However, Glen feared leaving his grandad’s side after he contracted sepsis, which contributed to his death at the age of 88 later that year.
The star praises Britain’s Got Talent for their support after he explained his grandad was in hospital, including paying for taxis back and forth from the hospital and rearranging rehearsals to help him.
He says: “During tech for rehearsals for the final, I had to leave and get in a cab straight to the hospital because I was told, ‘He may not last’.
“I had to drop everything to go, then come back and try to get into the right headspace. It felt very push and pull, it was a struggle and was worse because I kept it to myself.
“My anxiety became very physical panic attacks where I couldn’t breathe, was on edge and felt like I had no control of my body, which for a dancer is really hard.
“Before I wasn’t scared of anything or worried about taking risks but after everything that year I felt different. I was lonely and really anxious about looking upset.”
Backstage before they performed in the finals Ashley and Glen said a little prayer and both of them cried before going on to win the competition.
He says: “After saying that prayer, I felt Jack and my grandad with me. It helped us fight that bit more and gave us that extra oomph.
“We wanted to win and do our best and after everything, it felt like it had to happen. When we won, it was so special and meant so much, I was very emotional on stage.”
‘Couldn’t use public transport’
Twist and Pulse’s victory helped the duo bag further opportunities but Glen admits thankfully the fandom isn’t as “overwhelming” as it was back in 2010.
“It used to be so crazy,” Glen says. “We had to learn to drive as quickly as possible so we didn’t have to go around on public transport because it was too hard to get around.”
After their debut on the show, Twist and Pulse toured the UK and bagged TV appearances including This Morning, Celebrity Juice and Comic Relief.
They even performed multiple times as part of the London 2012 Summer Olympics.
In 2013, they set a Guinness World Record for ‘most synchronised dance moves in 30 seconds’ after doing 130. The following year, they beat it again with 148 moves.
‘Most important thing I’ve done’
This time around, Glen is using his fame to try to help others and is releasing a song to encourage people to open up about their mental health.
It’s called Made It Out Alive and in the music video, he suggests writing difficult feelings on Post-it notes and sharing the photos online.
Glen says opening up about his struggles helped him through his darker days and after confiding in Ash he feels “even closer” to his long-term pal.
He adds: “I don’t feel as much of a waste because he totally gets it and is supportive. It’s allowed us to have a healthier friendship and better discussions.
“Ash is just as excited as me about the song and keeps singing it. It’s a bit scary but I think talking about all of this is the most important thing I’ve ever done.”
You can listen to Glen ‘Pulse’ Murphy’s single Made It Out Alive here or watch the music video here. To join his campaign, which coincides with Mental Health Awareness Week next week, share a photo with the hashtag #CantSayItPostIt.