HeadLine: Likely lads are a class apart – Ainslie Henderson
The Mirror, 06/12/2002, p24 & 25
by SHAUN MILNE
ON August 21, 1979 a star was born.
Some people may not recognise Ainslie Henderson’s name just yet – but
For the affable young Scot has emerged as THE number one performer in
BBC’S best reality TV show to date – Fame Academy.
Charming, witty and, in a quirky way maybe even handsome, Ainslie is
something of a REM’s Michael Stipe meets Fran from Travis meets Bono of
It is a cover of the Irish band’s With Or Without You he hopes can keep
him in the Academy this Friday. And of course a step nearer to the
first prize of a record deal and pop star lifestyle for a year.
Yet there is one thing you can guarantee about Ainslie Henderson. Win,
lose or draw, he is here to stay.
Already he is guaranteed to have his very own songs feature on the
official Fame Academy album which will land in a million Xmas stockings
this year alone.
And his talent is such that bands including James have been falling
over themselves to get a piece of his action.
Maybe it was his monster-sized hangover having been to see the Doves at
Brixton Academy the night before, or maybe it was his workout with
resident trainer Kevin.
But the one thing that stands out about Ainslie Henderson is that what
you see is what you get – 100 per cent genuine honesty.
“God I’m knackered,” is his opening gambit, “I’m not sure a workout was
such a good idea after last night – I’m minging, absolutely mingin’.
“After I was finished I was just lying there thinking – I’m alive.”
And off he raves, about music, about bands – the love of his life,
which is why he is in the goldfish bowl of the Academy.
He knows it is a risk to his credibility, but with millions of viewers
tuning in, where else would the lad from Hawick get such exposure in
his quest for a break?
“It was actually my dad who phoned me up one day and said ‘have you
heard about this Fame Academy’,” says Ainslie.
“I said ‘God dad, there’s no way I’m getting involved in some tacky
reality TV talent show – not a chance in hell.
“But he kind of insisted and sent the application form and said ‘go on,
just give it a go’, and I’m here.
“When I came into Fame Academy I came in thinking I’ve nothing to lose
and it’s basically the best showcase you could hope to get really.
“If I can get to record and album out of it in one way or another then
it will have been worthwhile. That’s always been my goal.”
He has come close before with his band Surburbia, playing Edinburgh and
Glasgow before landing gigs in the States and even at the legendary
Cavendish club in Liverpool. When they broke up last Christmas, he
headed for the bright lights of London in search of a new band. But
instead he’s landed this chance of a lifetime.
He admits it’s been hard not knowing about life outside and that has
provoked a few grape attacks on cameras dotted about the Academy
watching the students’ every move.
And even a snippet, like learning the students were in the Mirror
yesterday, is seized upon.
He gushes: “I meant to ask you, are we on page three in the Mirror, is
that right? Wow!
“Oops..I’ve just been given a row for asking what’s in the paper. We’re
not supposed to know.”
At school in Jedburgh he confesses to being a good student but a
playground rebel. And he blushes at the mention of an old girlfriend –
whom he admits to being “horrible” to – though he’s had a good luck
card from her family.
But he has a new love of his life now – Bernadette Kesting, 26, a South
African he met in London.
And for all his antics on stage, he couldn’t even pluck up the courage
to ask her out. He says; “When I met Bernadette I was absolutely
terrified. The thing is I’m really confident until I come across a girl
who I’m really attracted to and I just become pathetic.”
More than anything, though, the camaraderie in the Academy has helped
him through the past 10 weeks. He said: “I’d expected it to be harder
than it has been. I think to start with when there was loads of us we
were on top of each other a bit.
“But this place is so huge and there’s so many people gone now that the
four of us have really bonded and we’re really close and supportive of
“I think they really wanted it to be a fierce competition but at the
end of the day it’s art. It’s hard to compete when you’re doing
something like that.”
His best memory from the experience, though, will be writing his own
song with Manchester band James.
Ainslie knows it is down to the public to decide who survives tonight.
If he wins, he will play a special gig in Glasgow on Saturday, as
revealed by the Mirror.
But whether or not he makes it to the top of the charts one day he can
at least take pride in the reason he started out in the music business
in the first place.
He laughs: “I started having guitar lessons when I was 14 at school.
“But the real reason is that I really fancied the guitar teacher at
Jedburgh Grammer School.
“She needed someone to sing Wonderful Tonight at the end of term
service and I said: ‘I’ll have a slice of that’.”
And as any decent rock star will testify, impressing chicks is the most
important motivation of all.
* TO VOTE TO SAVE AINSLIE CALL 09011 980 001 – Calls cost 10p