Gary Barlow: ‘We’ve tried to compete with Elgar!’

Gary Barlow talks to TV Times magazine about his mission for Queen and country in Gary Barlow: On Her Majesty’s Service (Sunday, BBC1)…

You seemed to have an amazing time visiting the different Commonwealth countries. Did you bring home any keepsakes?

“No, I’m using photos and the video footage as my souvenirs. I was given a couple of bracelets off the Masai tribe in Africa, which I gave to the kids.”

Was there more pressure on you writing this song given that it’s for The Queen?

“There’s a lot of pressure on us, I think, because we’re basically competing against Elgar. I mean Land of Hope and Glory is pretty much it, isn’t it? It’s the best song that’s ever been linked to Royalty. I don’t know if you can compete with him, but we’ve tried!”

You’re key to the Diamond Jubilee celebrations. How did you celebrate the Queen’s Silver and Golden Jubilees?

“I was six at the time of the 1977 Silver Jubilee, and we had a big do in our back garden. For the Golden Jubilee in 2002 I was living in LA at the time. I didn’t feel part of it really at all because I was so far away, but I saw a bit of the concert on TV.”

In the past, we Brits have been cynical about getting into the party spirit for royal celebrations. What do you think has given the Royals the ‘X Factor’ again?

“I think the younger Royals keep it current. The wedding last year was super, the whole country felt amazing around at that time and we certainly all tuned in to watch, as did the world. I think we forget that this is a family that are held in high respect around the world, there’s a global interest in them.”

How important do you feel the Queen is to our country?

“Vital, especially at this point. I’ve seen Royal diaries – I know what they look like because I’ve linked up with a couple of Princes on this film. It’s two-three visits a day – they’re going into rooms shaking peoples’ hands and travelling constantly, I couldn’t do it. They do it relentlessly and there comes a point when you’ve got to just go, ‘Respect’.”

And finally, you’re going to be a very busy man this month, what with the concert and auditions for X Factor in full swing. Do you ever find time to sleep!?

“Sleep’s not important. It’s overrated, and it’s overused. You can sleep when you’re dead!”