Belfast Telegraph

Memories for Robbie at switch-on

Robbie Williams relived his childhood when he switched on the world famous Blackpool illuminations.

The star, newly reunited with Take That, turned on the lights which will shine for 66 nights until November 7.

Around 15,000 people crammed into a purpose-built arena in the resort to see Robbie perform the honours, while thousands more watched on a big screen on the Promenade.

The singer told the crowd that Blackpool was a familiar destination for his family when he was growing up. "I used to come here as a kid for New Years and all the way through the summer," he said.

"On the Pleasure Beach, up the Tower and in Jungle Jim's."

His wife, Ayda, whom he married last month, was already a big fan of Blackpool, he said. "I thought it was the best place to take my wife on my honeymoon.

"She loves Blackpool. She has been on the Pleasure Beach, she has had some chips, she is loving it."

The singer arrived for the switch-on in a "battle-bus" accompanied by a police escort. Two special guests who he said he "picked up on the way up" were his father, Pete, and friend, multiple world darts champion Phil "The Power" Taylor, who both watched from the sidelines.

He was questioned on stage about his collaboration with former bandmate Gary Barlow on new single Shame and was asked if it was true that his wife said Barlow was his boyfriend. "Yeah, Gary Barlow is my boyfriend," he quipped. "People are saying that the video is very gay, I cannot understand that!"

The special switch-on concert also featured opera singer Russell Watson, boy band The Wanted, X-Factor runner-up Olly Murs, pop singers Gabriella Cilmi and Alesha Dixon, and girl group Bond.

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