The Wanted’s Max George, 32, has revealed that he “felt numb” after learning of his bandmate and friend’s cancer diagnosis ahead of his stint on BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing. Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, the singer opened up about learning of Tom Parker’s inoperable brain tumour and how it “numbed” him during his time on the dance show, which he credits for making him “more stable”.
Max joined the line-up for the 18th series of Strictly Come Dancing and was partnered with red-headed Australian dance professional, Dianne Buswell.
However, weeks before joining the show the footballer-turned-actor learned of Tom’s devastating diagnosis while shooting his final day on set of a movie.
But the Glad You Came hitmaker told how he didn’t have time to process the tragic news as he went straight into rehearsals for the BBC dance programme which kept him busy.
During his time on Strictly, Max commented: “I kind of felt numb to be honest when I went on Strictly.
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“But I think it helped me a lot because I was working out physically all day and it didn’t allow me to just sit around and feel the way I would feel…” the star candidly confessed before cutting himself off.
The star said he was grateful to the show for keeping his mind occupied, at a time when he was in emotional pain following Tom’s diagnosis.
Max explained: “Inside I was hurting but [Strictly] kind of – not took my mind off it, because it didn’t, but it physically made me a bit more stable, like I had something to concentrate on.
“In terms of that, Strictly came – I can’t describe it as a good time, it’s an awful time, but it really was an aid and so I’m thankful for that.”
Max went on to add that over the last 10 months his attitude towards his friend’s health battle has changed, explaining that he’s now more “hopeful”.
“At the start when you first hear that you think the worst, but now it’s been like sort of seven months in, I think we’re all way more hopeful now and looking forward to spending much more time with [Tom],” Max said.
Max was the third celebrity to be eliminated from Strictly last year, following politician Jacqui Smith, sportsman Jason Bell and Olympian Nicola Adams, who withdrew.
The star told how he had been asked to do the show “a few times” before but had previously turned it down.
However, Max told how a producer managed to convince him to take part in last year’s show.
“I remember the producer saying to me, ‘All Strictly is this year is [putting] smiles on people’s faces [who] are sitting at home in lockdown’.
“I was like, I can’t really say no to that,” Max confessed.
Despite his initial hesitancy, The Wanted singer said he ended up really “enjoying it” but was glad to come home when he did as he had been away from his family and girlfriend Stacey Giggs for four months due to filming schedules and Covid restrictions.
Speaking about his new presenting gig on Hits Radio, Max stated: “The show itself is just playing songs to get people up for the weekend and playing songs that are quite nostalgic.
“It’s just a proper warm up for the weekend and I love that, it really puts me in the mood to go out with my mates. If I can get the listeners feeling the same then I’ve done my job.”
Max George presents Friday Night Hits on Hits Radio every Friday from 7-10pm on hitsradio.co.uk.