A former Alan Carr lookalike has spoken of his regret over spending £20,000 on his appearance in a bid to break into television.
Liam Halewood was desperate for fame following appearances on a string of reality TV shows – and decided to alter his face so drastically he was barely recognisable.
In just two years, the singer, from Blackpool, transformed his look after having botox, fillers in his face and lips, non-surgical jaw alignment and hair transplants, as well as eyebrow shaping, regular facials and skin peels – all in a bid to look right in the world of showbiz.
But despite starring in TV programmes including The X Factor, BodyFixers, Four in a Bed and Judge Rinder, Liam struggled to get his big break.
After work dried up for the 33-year-old, he admits he now regrets squandering his cash and wishes he put it into a pension instead.
He told the Manchester Evening News: “At first I used looking like Alan Carr to my advantage, but after a while I just wanted to be known for being me.
“I decided that I’d need to do something drastic to get my big break so I changed my whole look and my face despite my family begging me not to.
“On the outside people thought I was happy and had loads of money but unfortunately it wasn’t the case. I was in debt, I became depressed, I was going through a divorce, I lost everything to chase my dream.
“People thought I was a star, but in reality, I had nothing.”
It all began for Liam in 2009 when he auditioned for The X Factor in a bid to boost his singing career.
But it would be seven years before the former drag queen was finally featured on the show after producers recognised his Alan Carr-esque features from a stint on E4’s Four in a Bed in 2012.
Liam said: “I ended up in a segment on the Xtra Factor with presenters Melvin Odom and Rochelle Humes. I was dressed up as my drag persona and I had to give Melvin advice about how he could dress like one. It gave me a taste of TV and I loved it.
“But even though the Alan Carr thing got me on there, I felt trapped in that bracket so much that I felt I wasn’t going to make it looking like I did.”
Liam decided drastic measures were in order, and got a new look – kick-started by E4 programme BodyFixers in 2017 – which stripped him of his resemblance to the Chatty Man comic.
But that only spurred him on to go for more extreme procedures, and the upkeep of his new appearance proved costly – along with his new glitzy lifestyle.
Liam said: “It wasn’t just the botox and fillers that cost a lot – I spent thousands on hotels so I could go to all the best parties and mingle with the right people, and didn’t think twice about the £10 drinks I was buying everyone.
“I even spent £550 on a pair of Vivienne Westwood jeans which I don’t even have anymore. Looking back, I’m shocked at how much I spent.”
After securing a few spots on TV, including an appearance on Extreme Diet Hotel which saw him lose four stone, it all came to a head for Liam six months ago when he hit rock bottom.
He said: “Showbusiness is not all it’s cracked up to be. There’s barely a one in a million chance that you’ll make it in television, and it’s not as well paid as you might think.
“If you’re 18 to 30 then you definitely have a better chance, but as soon as you go over that, no one wants to cast you. It seems programmes only want you if you’re young.
“I’m beginning to believe that could be because they think younger people can be more manipulated into doing what shows want them to do.”
Liam stopped having any work done at the end of last year and is now enjoying a more natural look – apart from when working as a Boy George tribute.
He now wants to warn wannabe TV stars not to fall into the same trap he did.
He said: “I feel guilty that in the past I have gone on about my fabulous showbiz life and my new look – but in reality it’s not all champagne and parties. You have to work really hard to get anywhere, and sometimes it can ruin your reputation when it comes to doing your regular job.
“I used to get messages in my inbox from people as young as 18 asking me where I got my botox – I started thinking, what kind of example am I setting to people? I realised that isn’t the kind of role model I want to be.
“I now want to warn people watching Love Island and wishing they could be famous that it’s an expensive business to become a TV personality. People think it’s all rosy but it isn’t always the case. TV is a short-lived career. It can’t be sustained.”
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