A Blackpool entertainer has warned youngsters about taking drastic measures to change their appearance after he spent more than £20,000 on cosmetic procedures as he was unhappy with his image.
When a stranger pointed out he looked like Alan Carr on holiday eight years ago, a new window of opportunity came flooding in for Liam Halewood, who had been working as a singer in the North West for several years.
The 33-year-old began to promote his singing and entertainment act around the fact he was a look-a-like of the comedian.
He had appeared on several daytime reality TV shows and wanted to further enhance his TV opportunities.
And whilst he admits there was nothing wrong with looking like Alan Carr, he felt pressured into looking a certain way for the media and so he appeared on Channel Four’s Body Fixers to change his look.
But it came at a price as he admits he went too far and urges image-conscious youngsters to be happy with who they are.
Liam, who lives in Blackpool, says: “I want to start a campaign to let people know they don’t need to change themselves to be on TV. They should make it about their talent or personality, rather than looks.
“If you look at shows like Love Island and now Coach Trip, it is all aimed at who can get the most flesh out.
“I know a lot of reality TV shows only employ the 18 to 30 crowd and I am worried that there are too many role models on TV saying it is acceptable to get botox fillers at 18.
“When I first had my make-over done, I had messages from 18-year-old girls and boys asking where I had my procedures done as they wanted it.
“That’s when I was getting worried about who I was becoming. I began to look at me as a person and how far I was willing to go to chase my dream.”
Liam’s early TV appearances include The Weakest Link, May The Best House Win, Four in a Bed and Big Ballet. He also attracted the attention of Alan Carr himself as the pair met and shared photos of themselves together.
But it was his time on the X Factor in 2015 that made Liam, who was also a former drag act and Boy George tribute artist, rethink his image.
He entered Body Fixers two years later, where his hair was dyed a trendy grey, his facial hair was trimmed and he was giving styling tips.
Liam says: “I want to make it clear that I was not trying to insult Alan Carr. I love him to bits and he is my idol. I went on there to get my own identity. I thought the only way was to change my outer shell. I knew that reality TV would not accept someone similar to me. I changed my whole appearance because I had a complex.”
Following his initial make-over, Liam became hooked on maintaining his new image, spending around £20,000 over three years on non-surgical procedures such as botox fillers and jaw re-alignment.
He bought expensive designer clothes and partied in exclusive bars with the reality TV crowd.
He adds: “I could have spent that money more wisely and not be so naive because of the role models I was seeing on TV.
“I felt to become a reality TV personality I had to mingle at the right parties. I was invited to a party every week and I went as I felt it was the best thing to do to further my career.
“But I was paying £10 for a double gin and lemonade in a posh bar and had to spend £150 for a hotel room. I was spending £200 to £250 a week on going out. Unless you were making it big on TV or were rich, people like me don’t have that kind of money to spent on a night out.”
He also took part in Extreme Diet Hotel and lost 21lb (1.5 stone) in one week by using gruelling methods.
He adds: “I was such a bad role model. I was saying it was okay to lose 21lb in a week. But what people didn’t see was us not eating, being sick and shaking, It was such a tough experience.”
Liam was slightly concerned the Chatty Man star would be offended by media articles highlighting the fact he had gone to such extremes to not look like him anymore, but the comedian saw the funny side and has mentioned him twice in his recent Radio 2 shows.
Now, Liam, a presenter at Fylde Coast Radio, admits he regrets trying to change who he was to chase his ‘TV dream’ and has stopped all beauty and cosmetic procedures.
He says: “I changed my image to get on TV, but what I now realise is I should have changed what was on the inside and concentrated on my talent.
“My ex-husband was happy with who I was and my mum was against the fillers and botox. She questioned why I was trying to change who I was.
“Once I realised, I went away and worked on my voice. I started to believe in myself and Liam Halewood and what my talent was. My talent is going out there and making people smile through my vocals and my entertainment skills.
“I am in the right frame of mind to be a singer.
“I am not saying to people don’t chase your dreams but remember who you are as a person and don’t feel like you have to change yourself to be on TV.”