When Gaynor Watkins gave birth to her first child, Ian, on the 8th May 1976 in the town of Llwyniphia in the Rhondda Valley South Wales, little did she know that she and her husband Robert had a superstar on their hands. The Watkins had three children Ian, the eldest, and his two younger brothers Alyn and Jamie. Having three sons is a handful at the best of times but Gaynor had Ian to deal with too - the boy who went on to be known as the most hyperactive man on Planet Pop!
From an early age Ian lit up his parents lives, unfortunately he also lit up the top floor of their house!
Ian had been attending a friend's birthday party but had got bored and sneaked home to have a party of his own. Armed with a box of matches the cheeky monkey headed upstairs to hide under his bed and proceeded to light each one whilst singing 'Happy Birthday' to himself. After yet another rousing chorus of the song Ian noticed that his duvet was happliy ablaze and so evacuated the property and went to back to the party. It was ten minutes before he decided that he should perhaps mention the incident to his mum and the fire brigade were called in.
It was after this little mishap that Ian's parents decided tha t it might be a good idea if he took up some after school activities to try and burn up some of his energy. They'd already taken him to the doctor who had suggested cutting out all foods that might make him hyperactive. He was on a strict diet with no caffine or artificial colours allowed, but it had little effect, and he was still running up the walls. So Ian was enrolled in drama and swimming classes, and using all his extra energy in a positive way he went on to excel at both, even becoming a Welsh swimming champion!
It was in his swimming class that he developed his first crush on a girl called Leanne. He followed her round for months and even practised his kissing technique on his teddy bear just in case she asked him out. But it was to no avail and he never got his dream date in fact she never even spoke to the lovestruck Ian.
His drama classes were more successful and even now Ian is in contact with his close group of friends he made there. It was his pals from drama that first nicknamed him H for Hyperactive. It was a nickname that stuck and these days Ian is known by the world and his fans as simply H.
H was a very enthusiastic pupil at his drama school and when he heard that they would be doing a production of 'Barnum' he was so determined to get the lead role that he started taking circus training lessons and soon he was a competent tight rope walker and unicyclist! It did the trick too because he landed the role he was desperate for.
This boy set his sights high from day one and was constantly changing his mind about what profession he would choose when he grew up. Popular choices included being an astronaut and a vet.
The Watkins' house was already like a zoo and most of the pets belonged to H. He had a dog called Ben, a tarantula called Boris, a big flop earred rabbit, a terrapin and some tropical fish.
H's collection of fish had dramatically decreased in numbers since the arrival of his pet terrapin. In fact H had caused murder, literally , when he decided to let the 'lonely' terrapin take a swim in the fish tank to 'make freinds' with the expensive fish. A kind thought that had resulted in half the fish being eaten in seconds!
For his 12th birthday H got a very unusual present, an allotment and a garden shed! The down to earth lad had by then decided that he wanted to be a gardener so this was the perfect gift as far as he was concerned.
As with all things that he took up H went on to have great success with his gardening and managed to win prizes for his tomotoes as well as other things. Pretty soon though he was in trouble at the allotment too when he and his friends decided to steal some onions from another garden. Unfortunately for H he was the only one who got caught and he was delivered home to his parents by the irrate gardener who told them the whole story.
Senior school wasn't a bundle of laughs for H and he found it quite difficult to fit in with the other students. Whilst other boys in his class were only interested in football and girls, H was interested in music, art and drama and was too shy to even consider talking to a girl that he fancied.
Despite being a champion swimmer H grew to hate his PE lessons as they usually consisted of having to play football. He did once score a goal, but unfortunately it was in his own team's net and it resulted in him being very unpopular for the rest of the day.
H soon realised that his sense of humour and witty remarks could make his classmates laugh and that the more he made them laugh the more popular he became. Soon H was reknowned as being the class clown and his group of friends began to grow as did his confidence.
The school disco was always the highlight of the school year for H, a few weeks before he'd steal his mum's catalogue and pick himself a new outfit, then he'd order it secretly , wear it for his night out and then send it back, thus ensuring that he was always at the very height of fashion! The only thing that he didn't like about the disco was the last dance where the girls would choose one of the unsuspecting lads, who were trying to hide in the shadows of the school hall, to dance with. H reckons that he was never picked and so used to leave early before the lights went up. You can bet the girls in his class are kicking themselves now!
One school disco that H wishes he'd never attended was a fancy dress Halloween party. His mum, keen for him to make a good impression, made him a pumpkin outfit complete with green tights. Surprisingly turning up as a giant pumpkin didn't do much for his street cred!
As H became older he began to get more and more interested in music and began to learn all the the songs and dance routines by pop acts such as Five Star, Bucks Fizz and his favourite celebrity crush Kylie Minogue.
The first record he ever bought was copy of 'Never Gonna Give You Up' by Rick Astley, a hit that was produced by pop guru Pete Waterman. H would practice singing in his bedroom mirror and pretty soon he had a new ambition - to be a pop star!
After he left school H decided to go to art college, he had gained an A grade in his GCSE, and so planned a career as an artist. He attended the college for a year before he decided to quit and pursue his real passion for performing.
He applied for a job as a Blue Coat at Pontins on Barry Island and was a huge hit with the holiday makers. He started off working in the bar but soon his bubbly personality and natural friendliness with the guests persuaded his bosses to promote him to head children's entertainer. In his new job H had to play the part of a character called 'Whizz' and looked after up to 100 children a day In 'Whizzy World'. He soon gained his own fan club and had legions of children and girls following him round the camp. But instead of breaking the rules by smuggling girls back to his chalet, animal lover H broke the rules by smuggling his pet hamster in!
The next season H transferred to Butlins in Minehead and continued to learn his trade practically by singing and dancing on stage every night. Although he was a popular member of staff and he enjoyed his job immensly H was bored and he still had aspirations to be a star. He began auditioning for various new jobs including working on a cruise ship, but then he spotted that fateful ad placed in The Stage magazine. It was exactly what he was looking for so H decided he had nothing to loose by applying.
His jaw dropped when he walked into the audition room, in November 1996, and saw that he had just entered what looked like a scene from 'Fame'. All around him were trained singers and dancers clad in leotards and leg warmers all looking every inch the professional. H, who was dressed in his usual attire of a pair of jeans and a black and white jumper, decided that all he could do was give it his best shot and grin and bear it.
He began chatting to the other wannabes and soon the whole room was in uproar as he went through his usual hyperactive routine. In fact one of the only people that he didn't talk to was a young girl from his native Wales called Lisa Scott-Lee. H was taken aback by Lisa, who stood out from the crowd with her obvious good looks and self confidence and so he decided to ignore her! He wouldn't be able to ignore her for long though...
When he began his audition H found that it wasn't only the other applicants that he had impressed with his wonderful personality, it was the judges too. And when he performed two songs, 'Things Can Only Get Better' by D:Ream and the theme from the stage show Starlight Express, with the perfect vocals that he is now reknowned for, he sealed the deal.
A couple of days later H recieved a phone call to say that he had just become the first member of a brand new boy / girl band called STEPS. In usual H style he went hyper because he knew that things were going to get huge and that this was just beginning!
(Copywrited to Sarah Colley - any reproduction of this text is strictly prohibited!)