Obituary: Darius Campbell-Danesh, Popstars reality TV star and pop idol who has enjoyed a successful career in the West End

Darius Campbell-Danesh, who died aged 41 of unknown causes, burst into public consciousness on the ITV talent show Popstars in 2001 when he banged his way through Britney Spears’ hit Me Baby One More Time with a ponytail, goatee and singing falsetto and was booted out in the final round amid general ridicule. However, he defied the scoffers and forged a successful career not only as a pop star but also in musical theater.

after his pop stars Debut, Darius, as he became popularly known, was slammed by the press (Julie Burchill spoke of the “horror, the amazement, the sheer melted joy that is Darius”). Darius then bravely returned to the fight as a candidate pop idol and made it into the last three.

Simon Cowell, judging his efforts, felt he didn’t have what it took: “Top guy,” he said. “I have the highest respect for the guy who did this to himself. But if I thought he could have been a star, he would have been signed a long time ago.”

In fact, Cowell offered him a record deal, but Darius turned it down and was instead signed to Mercury Records by Steve Lillywhite, the producer of U2. In July 2002 he shot to number 1 in the charts with his first single. colorblind. his debut album, immersionmeanwhile went platinum.

Darius – 6ft 2in, dark-haired and handsome – went on to have five Top 10 singles and as his pop career began to fade he made a successful career on stage and even performed in opera.

2010 after winning the ITV talent show Pop star to opera star He made his operatic debut at the O2 Arena in the leading role (baritone) of the torero Escamillo carmen.

Darius was sometimes called arrogant and selfish, but interviewers found another side. Emily Bearn, writing for the Sunday Telegraph found him “extremely affable” in 2002. After announcing his death, a friend, broadcaster James O’Brien, tweeted: “Darius was a lovely guy… He appeared very confident and ambitious on TV, but off-camera he was gentle, generous & humble & totally devoted to his little brothers. “

The eldest of three boys, all named after Persian kings, Darius was born in Glasgow on 19 August 1980 to a Scottish mother, Avril Campbell, a family doctor, and an Iranian consulting gastroenterologist, Booth Danesh, the grandson of one of the Shah’s ambassadors of Iran.

Darius grew up in the affluent Glasgow suburb of Bearsden and showed musical talent from a young age, playing the role of Peter Pan in his kindergarten at the age of four: “I saw my parents laugh and realized that it’s just the most amazing thing, people to make happy to be able to do.”

He attended Glasgow Academy where, according to the 1998 yearbook, he was voted by his peers as the boy most likely to be famous for being either ‘a giant plonker or a gay porn star’ – or possibly prime minister. He had just graduated from Edinburgh University with a degree in English and Philosophy when he was chosen to perform pop stars.

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When he released his second album in 2004, live twice – less successful than the first – it seemed like Darius’ time in the spotlight had peaked. But he reinvented himself and gained recognition as a performer in stage musicals, taking on the role of Billy Flynn Chicago for two runs in the West End in 2005 and 2006, then he played Sky Masterson boys and dolls in 2007.

The following year he was cast as Rhett Butler in the world premiere of the stage musical of Blown by the windthe telegraph Critics praised his “masterful combination of verve and pathos”.

In 2009 he made a guest appearance on the BBC series hotel babel as an Italian magazine editor. By that time he had moved to the United States, where he had some success as a film producer.

He married Natasha Henstridge, a Canadian actress, in 2011 but the marriage dissolved in 2018.

Telegraph Media Group Limited [2022] Obituary: Darius Campbell-Danesh, Popstars reality TV star and pop idol who has enjoyed a successful career in the West End

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