Ian "H" Watkins
Watkins performing at the Manchester Apollo in 2012
8 May 1976
Ian Watkins (born 8 May 1976), known professionally as H, is a Welsh singer and actor. He is known as a member of the British pop group Steps. In 2020, he competed in the twelfth series of Dancing on Ice.
In May 1997, Watkins became a member of the British pop group Steps. Steps achieved a series of charting singles between 1997 and 2001 including two number-one singles in the UK, two number-one albums in the UK, 14 consecutive top 5 singles in the UK and a string of hits throughout Europe. The group has sold over 20 million records worldwide in addition to acquiring a BRIT Award nomination in 1999.
After departing from H & Claire, he then decided to take a musical theatre course at the Royal Academy of Music. Whilst taking the course he also appeared in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and was filmed for a reality TV series, H-side Story, which followed him as he tried to make a new career in acting. Watkins performed at Preston's Charter theatre in the pantomime Cinderella as the character of Buttons. In summer 2007, he performed in the West End version of Fame. During Christmas 2007, he reprised his role as Buttons in the pantomime Cinderella at the Grimsby Auditorium. Christmas 2010 saw his return to Grimsby as he performed in the pantomime Beauty and the Beast, playing the part of Muddles. In 2013, Watkins announced that he was returning to his role as Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in June on the UK National Tour. He also played the role of 'Silly Billy' in pantomime Jack & The Beanstalk at the Southport Theatre from 10 December 2009 to 3 January 2010.
In June 2006, Watkins appeared in a special week of episodes of the BBC Radio Drama Silver Street on the BBC Asian Network. He played the character of former soldier Dave in episodes set in the Welsh countryside. In November 2006, Watkins featured on the BBC Children in Need Celebrity Scissorhands show, where Michelle cut his hair. Watkins was the ninth housemate to enter the Celebrity Big Brother house on 3 January 2007. He finished in fourth place. In April 2007, Watkins starred as the hidden celebrity in an episode of the CBBC series Hider in the House. On 11 March 2008, Watkins presented a documentary about growing up gay in Wales, shown on BBC Wales. Whilst filming for this, Watkins interviewed Christian Voice leader Stephen Green. During the interview Green compared him to Jeffrey Dahmer.
In December 2008, Watkins was a contestant in Bargain Hunt Famous Finds and partnered with Connie Fisher. Watkins appeared on Skins, episode 2 of series 4. He also appeared in the Living TV series Party Wars in 2010. In February 2013, Watkins was a contestant in the celebrity special of the ITV quiz show The Chase along with three other celebrities. In 2014, he appeared as one of the celebrities challenged to learn Welsh in a week on the S4C series Cariad@Iaith.
In 2020, Watkins competed in the twelfth series of the ITV series Dancing on Ice. He was the first celebrity in the history of the series to compete within a same sex couple, with professional partner Matt Evers.
In 2009, Lee Latchford-Evans hinted that a future reunion was possible, but that "it isn't the right time right now". In 2011, it was announced that Steps would be reuniting for a four-part Sky Living documentary, depicting their split and the intermittent years. The band would also release their Ultimate Collection, as well as potential new material.
In an interview with Digital Spy on 20 September 2011, Steps said that they believe there may still be a gap in the market for their brand of "happy pop". Scott-Lee said: "Times have changed, but we are in a recession and Steps' music was very light-hearted and fun, so there could be a place for that in today's society ... What else is interesting is that there aren't any boy/girl pop groups out there at the moment".
On 3 January 2007, Watkins came out as gay in an interview with The Sun newspaper, also confirming his relationship with Paul Akehurst. His interview was published the same day he entered the Celebrity Big Brother house. During his tenure with Steps, Watkins was involved in a relationship with the group's manager, Tim Byrne. Watkins was in a relationship with Craig Ryder from 2007 until November 2017. On 6 March 2016, they became fathers to twin sons, Macsen and Cybi Ryder-Watkins, born via a surrogate. Watkins was named on the 2017 Pink List of leading Welsh LGBT figures.
In November 2013, it was reported that Watkins had been receiving hate mail through Twitter from people confusing him with Lostprophets singer Ian Watkins, who had recently pleaded guilty to sex offences involving children. H received a public apology in court from E! Entertainment Television for their having used his photo to illustrate a story about the Lostprophets singer. After the misidentification, H was said to be pursuing legal action after his image appeared next to stories about the other Watkins' crimes through searches on Google News.