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Strictly winner on how addiction to ‘drink and drugs’ affected his mental health: ‘It’s a really horrible thing to go through’

He's opened up on BBC One show

Celebrity Race Across the World continues this week, and McFly drummer Harry Judd opens up about his struggle with his mental health.

The former Strictly Come Dancing winner, 37, talks about his “addictive personality” during an eight-hour train journey with his mum, Emma.

The emotional scene leaves both mother and son tearful (Wednesday, October 18 2023), as Harry admits to battling problems he wasn’t able to talk to his mum about while he was going through them.

The scenes are especially poignant as Harry left home young to pursue his pop career…

Harry Judd and his mum Emma travelling on Celebrity Race Across the World
Harry Judd and his mum Emma travelling on Celebrity Race Across the World (Credit: Studio Lambert Ltd/BBC)

McFly’s Harry Judd on Celebrity Race Across the World with mum Emma

During the latest instalment of Celebrity Race Across the World, Harry Judd and his mum Emma travel to Poland. As they embark on a long train journey from Budapest to Poland, Harry begins by expressing his delight at having the opportunity to spend one-on-one time with his mum.

Shortly after boarding the train, Harry explains: “I’m loving the train – space, chilled, chatting away to mum. There’s something to be said for having eight hours, just the two of you, on a nice smooth train. No distractions, no phones, just really quality time.”

Mum Emma, in total agreement, adds: “It’s lovely having this time together. It really is so, so precious. When does any mother get their son, at this age, without anybody else interrupting?”

In previous episodes, Emma has admitted finding it hard when a teenage Harry left home to start touring with McFly.

Harry Judd on mental health: ‘I have addictive personality’

As the journey progresses, Harry speaks candidly about his battles with mental health. He also reveals his decision to keep things from his mum in the past in a bid to protect her…

During the train trip, Harry reflects on his past and opens up to mum Emma, saying: “I’ve sort of had to fight my instincts slightly on this part of the journey. My instinct is just to run for the train, get the night bus, go! You know? Anything I do, I just kind of get a bit fixated on it and get a bit obsessed.”

Emma agrees, saying: “There have been moments where I’ve watched from the side and thought, ‘oh whoopsie, what’s going on here?'”

Harry asks his mum: “Have I always been a bit obsessive about things?” To which Emma replies: “Yes. Is the answer to that. Yes, if you get stuck on something, you won’t leave it alone. But it’s to your credit – like when you started the drums!”

Of course, Harry’s fans will know that he formed McFly in 2003, when he was just 18. The band took their name from the Back to the Future character Marty McFly. As well as Harry, the band consists of Tom Fletcher, Danny Jones, and Dougie Poynter.

Harry Judd carries backpack on Celebrity Race Across the World
Harry Judd has to fight his ‘addictive’ instinct on Celebrity Race Across the World (Credit: Studio Lambert Ltd/Pete Dadds)

Harry Judd ‘didn’t want to disappoint my mum’

Drummer Harry, who has three children with wife Izzy Johnston, speaks openly about his past with his mum, admitting he has an addictive personality.

Harry continues: “I think if I can channel my addictive personality in a positive way then it can be a really good thing. But then it can also, if I go too far, be a real negative. I did, in my late teens/early twenties, do things in excess. Drink and drugs, it was all done to excess, and left me with terrible anxiety. And so, that’s why I don’t drink anymore, because it doesn’t sit well with the way I am.”

However, he admits he hid this from his mum, saying: “But at the time, I never told you. I think because I didn’t want to disappoint you and also, I didn’t want to hurt you. So, I just never told you. And I still feel like that, you never want to hurt your mum, you never want to let your mum down.”

Emma, who becomes tearful at her son’s admission, says: “Well bless you darling, you never will let me down. And I hope you know I’ll always be there for you, and I’ll always love you, no matter what.”

Awww, pass the tissues!

Former Strictly winner Harry Judd on mental health battle

While reflecting on the conversation he has with Emma, Harry later says: “There’s been periods where I’ve really struggled with my mental health. And, when you experience anxiety or depression, it’s the worst thing ever. It’s worse than any physical injury I’ve ever had, times 10. It’s a really horrible thing to go through.”

Emma subsequently adds: “I knew that things weren’t right. And I’ve known that he’s suffered, but he’s never opened up to me about it. And so, the fact that he told me today that he did it to protect me, I felt truly loved actually.”

The penultimate episode of the series sees the race continue as Harry and Emma race against All Saints star Melanie Blatt and her mum, Helene, broadcaster Alex Beresford and his dad, Noel, and racing driver Billy Monger and his sister, Bonny.

strictly come dancing cast
Harry Judd winning Strictly with Aliona Vilani in 2011 (Credit: BBC)

Celebrity Race Across the World fans lash out at Harry

Harry Judd’s admission about his mental health struggles comes after fans have criticised him for his treatment of his mum.

During previous episodes of the BBC One series, fans have become angry with Harry for “pushing” his mum “beyond her limits”.

Harry’s mum Emma admitted she was struggling as the pair reached Split in Croatia – but Harry wanted to keep pushing on despite a 19-hour bus journey. She said: “I’m tired today, I’m pushing myself and I am struggling a bit.”

One of Harry’s critics said on Twitter, now X: “I’m not being funny, but Harry could have sent his mum on a relaxing cruise with his money.”

Another said: ” Harry, stop running your lovely mum into the ground and take a bit of time to enjoy the trip!”

A third griped: “Getting bored with this now. Harry is a [bleep] to his mum.”

Another said: “Harry started the episode saying ‘she’s my mum, I’ll look after her’ and is ending it by nearly killing the poor cow!”

Read more: Strictly favourite to leave this weekend revealed in blow to two couples

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Celebrity Race Across the World continues on Wednesdays at 9pm on BBC One

What do you think of Harry Judd opening up about his mental health struggles? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page @EntertainmentDailyFix.

Helen Fear
TV Editor