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Never mind that the rain is returning and restrictions have been extended – the Euros are on and there’s never been a better time for a second helping of Vindaloo.
Coronation Street star Will Mellor is on a mission to boost the nation’s spirits, raise money for the NHS and get behind England in the championship with a new version of the 1998 Fat Les anthem.
He enlisted showbiz pals Paddy McGuinness, Keith Lemon and Danny Dyer for a remake that’s every bit as much fun as the original – with another sun-drenched video to keep fans always looking on the bright side.
Will, 45, says: “We need something to put smiles on faces and bring the country together. Getting behind England in the Euros does that.
Paddy McGuinness and Will Mellor during the recording of Vindaloo 2021 for the upcoming 2021 Euros
(Image: JULES ANNAN / Avalon)
“The song is so uplifting and we want to say a massive thank you to the NHS for getting us to the point we’re at, where we can come together and be at football matches and see our loved ones. All the money raised goes to NHS charities.”
Will himself has had a particularly tough year. His dad Bill died of cancer in April last year and he then lost two uncles and an aunt, before his mum Shirley suffered a mini-stroke.
But Will, who has suffered with crippling depression in the past, is determined to keep his mental health strong by creating something positive for himself and the nation.
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Now, with restrictions partially lifted, Will reckons the Euros could bring people together after so long apart.
He says: “I want to see flags outside on gates, families gathering to have barbecues and watch the matches.
“That’s what it’s all about.”
Paddy McGuinness was the first person Will turned to for help remaking Vindaloo and the Take Me Out host leapt at the chance to raise cash for NHS charities.
Will says: “I called Paddy up and instantly he said, ‘I love it, I’m in!’ I said we want to raise money for
charities and he said, ‘NHS!’ and I said, ‘Exactly!’
The Corrie actor with his dad
“Then I called Keith Lemon and he instantly said, ‘I’m in,’ then I spoke to Danny Dyer and he said, ‘I love it.’
Keith Allen, who performed the original with Fat Les, quickly gave permission and offered to appear and play bass.
Happy Mondays stars Bez and Rowetta also jumped at the chance. The cheery video also features a gospel choir, lots of children and an army of NHS staff.
Will says: “It’s about a few famous faces but also the general public, kids, NHS key workers, different people all coming together bouncing down the street putting smiles on faces, lifting spirits.”
The video is a riot that celebrates everything great about our country, and every purchase, stream or listen raises cash for the NHS. To keep costs down the only ones in the production who got paid were our NHS heroes.
They are all recording a new version of the anthem
(Image: JULES ANNAN / Avalon)
Ever since the NHS saved the life of his disabled sister Joanne with open heart surgery when Will was just 18, he has been in awe of the life-giving work they do. His admiration only grew during the pandemic.
So he was disgusted when Boris Johnson ’s Government proposed a pay rise of just 1% earlier this year
The Prime Minister, whose life was saved by NHS doctors and nurses when he caught Covid last year, defended the measly increase, saying it was “as much as we can give”.
Will is still furious. He says: “All of us have needed the NHS at some point.
“Imagine this country without it. Where we would be now? I wasn’t happy at all with that 1% rise they got. It p***ed me off.
“They should be the highest paid people in the country.
“They saved his life. We spend billions and billions on track and trace and this and that, that don’t work, but we can only afford a 1% pay rise for the NHS who saved lives and put their own lives at risk when this country was on its back.”
It was the NHS who looked after Will’s dad too and he knows Bill would approve of Vindaloo Two. He says: “He’d be really proud of me doing this, and getting behind it and getting his mates to sing it down the pub.”
Will first suffered with depression after his sister Joanne’s death in 2012.
He recalls: “I didn’t want to talk to anybody. Nothing made sense any more. I didn’t see the point in anything. I couldn’t get out of the cloud.”
Will Mellor with his wife Michelle McSween and children Renee Mellor and Jayden Will Mellor
(Image: Getty Images)
Will turned to drink and gambling to cope, until his wife Michelle intervened.
He said: “Drinking doesn’t help, trust me. I didn’t have a problem, it was just something that I turned to. It’s not
the right thing to do, so after I lost my dad, I knew what not to do.
“I realised that it’s OK not to be OK. I have a little cry and I go for walks and I listen to music and that’s just life and that’s what you have to do sometimes.”
Surrounding himself with friends and family and not putting “a brave face on it” also helps.
Will, who is dad to Renee, 13, and Jayden, 17, who also appear in Vindaloo Two, adds: “My family are my life, my kids make me happy. It’s good to have friends around you too.”
It's set to cheer up the nation
(Image: JULES ANNAN / Avalon)
Keith, Paddy and Danny have helped lift Will’s spirits and while he tries not to drink to mask his feelings, they let their hair down after filming the video.
Will says: “We did have a couple of beers after the kids had gone. We had such a good laugh.” He also credits his new role as Corrie’s vicious drugs lord Harvey Gaskell with helping to keep him going.
His mum is pleased too – especially as she has seen so much more of him while he is filming in Manchester. He says: “When I first got an agent at 12 years old, she said, ‘I just want him to be in Coronation Street. I’ll be happy then.’ And 33 years later I’m in it.”
As for the Euros, Will reckons England could win with the top talent in the squad – but he says Scotland will give them a real test tomorrow.
He says: “Scotland are going to be a tough match. If we come through our group we can win it. France will be the big danger. Italy will be a big danger.
“But we’ve got youth, pace, we’ve got loads of ability, and we’ve got a great squad. This could be our time.”
*Vindaloo Two out now. T-shirt at https://everpress.com/vindaloo