Popstar to Operastar contestant Andy Bell has revealed he has offered advice to fellow singer Joe McElderry on how to survive as an openly gay pop star.

The Erasure singer – who is one of five remaining contestants in the ITV1 show – told The Sun that he thought the 20-year-old was “brave” to open up about his sexuality after he was ‘outed’ by hackers on Twitter last year.

“I said to him that I thought it was very brave what he’d done,” said the 47-year-old. I’ve told him to come to me when he wants to talk about it.

“We’re both quite shy but we’re chatting a lot more now than we were at the beginning of the series. I’ve also spoken to his dad about it and he was saying how tough it all was after he’d won the X Factor.”

“I hope I’ll stay in touch with Joe,” Andy added. “I’m going to say to him, ‘I’m always there if you want to talk and if you need any help or anything, I’ll be there’.

The singer added that he had advised Joe – who won the 2009 series of The X Factor but has since been dropped from Simon Cowell’s record label – to try and build a support network around himself.

And he admitted that being a gay pop star had been more acceptable in the 80s, when he first opened up about his own sexuality.

“It was hard but at that time there was kind of gay wave in pop. All these people started trickling out but you knew they were gay, like Boy George, Elton and The Communards. You felt you had a team with you for support.”

Andy, who is currently on tour with bandmate Vince Clarke, also revealed that he is finding Popstar To Operastar harder than he first thought it would be.

“On the Erasure shows I’ve been overcompensating with the singing – singing really loudly and that must be because of doing the show,” he said.

I didn’t think doing the TV show would be so tough – I thought I could just swan in and sing well.”