How Will Smith helped Martin Bashir land The X Factor: Celebrity

The veteran BBC journalist practised singing on long car journeys with his family.

The X Factor: Celebrity contestant Martin Bashir has said he honed his vocal chops by singing Will Smith’s rap song Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It in the car – much to his children’s irritation.

The veteran BBC journalist is one of 15 celebrities competing to win a record deal on the new edition of the hit ITV show.

Bashir, who is currently the broadcaster’s religion editor, said he is aiming to launch a second career as a singer, despite never having sung in public before.

Will Smith (PA)

He said: “Some years back, whenever we were driving long distances, I would put a song by Will Smith called Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It on to the CD player and start singing.

“And they’d say ‘Please, Mum, tell him to shut up’. I think they found it embarrassing.”

On whether he was ready to embarrass his children on national television, the 56-year-old said: “Well, it depends on how embarrassing the performance is.

“If it’s an absolute disaster and I go out in the first round, they will probably say something like ‘You’re stupid. You should never have done it’.”

Britain’s 80 years of TV
Martin Bashir interviews Diana, Princess of Wales (BBC/PA)

Bashir also admitted he had under-estimated how difficult singing in public was, saying that it has been “an education”.

He said: “I’ve never sung before and it’s not as easy as you think. It’s hard. I’d never recognised how extraordinarily skilled singers are. I had no idea. I love music.

“I’d go to classical concerts, jazz, pop, whatever. But this has been like an education because I had no idea.

“The other thing about it is that singing is not just a vocal process. The performance involves movement, expression and the ability to sell a song. So it’s been an education.”

Bashir began working as a journalist in 1986 but made headlines around the world in 1995 for his BBC interview with Diana, Princess of Wales, for Panorama.

The X Factor: Celebrity will debut on ITV on October 12.

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