Robbie Williams and Gary Barlow’s decade-long ‘feud’ recapped: ‘I started to cry’

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Tonight ‘Take That at the BBC’ airs on BBC Two at 9:35pm. The programme will feature a selection of the beloved boy band’s appearances at the BBC over the years from their early days with Robbie as a five-piece, to their present line-up. The show will be followed by documentary ‘Take That: We’ve Come a Long Way’ on BBC Two from 10:35pm.

The documentary marks Take That’s 30th year as a band, and features fans across the world sharing stories of how the group touched their lives.

To mark the occasion, the programme sees Robbie rejoin Gary, Howard Donald and Mark Owen to share their favourite Take That memories, while fans can catch a glimpse of the band in the studio recording their anniversary album with Bee Gees veteran Barry Gibb.

Take That propelled themselves to stardom in 1991 with their debut single ‘Do What U Like’ and have since scored 12 UK number one singles and eight number one albums on the UK Albums Chart.

Yet, despite being one of the UK’s best loved boy bands, Robbie and Gary were once engaged in a high-profile and bitter feud.

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Take That formed in 1990 when Robbie was just 16 years old and Gary was 19, and the band enjoyed almost instant success.

However, Robbie was struggling behind-the-scenes and is said to have been frustrated by his role in the band.

Robbie, who was suffering from alcohol and drug issues, then caused a massive falling out in 1995 when he ditched Take That rehearsals to go to Glastonbury with Oasis’ Noel and Liam Gallagher.

Robbie later explained in ‘24 Hours with Take That’: “The last few months, I was a wreck. The night before we all went out, I drank myself stupid.

“That morning we rehearsed as normal, but I was drinking an awful lot. So when they spoke to me about my attitude, I thought they were saying, ‘You should leave.’

“I walked out, left it a couple of seconds and then I jumped in through the door and everybody laughed. And then I walked away. They never thought that would be the last time. 

“Then I started to cry. I went away an angry young man and I blamed Gary. But the truth is that Take That had two guys who wanted to be the front man.”

After leaving the band in 1995, the feud between the pair widened when Robbie branded Gary “clueless” and said the group had “all the creativity of morons”.

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According to the Mirror, Robbie later admitted: “I hated our music and in the end I also hated myself.”

Just a year later, Take That split up entirely.

Gary then accused Robbie of being jealous of the fortune he had amassed from being the group’s chief songwriter.

However, it was Robbie who shot to global stardom in 1997 upon the release of his first single ‘Angels’.

Meanwhile, Gary’s own debut album flopped in the charts, leading the former Take That frontman to be dropped by his record label.

According to the Mirror, Gary has since admitted: “It was a really humiliating thing that happened. I’d been in this band, it all ends, you get dropped, one of your band members goes on to be stratospheric, you’re just the loser.

“There’s like a big ‘L’ wherever you look, all over your body, you’re just a loser. I just didn’t want to be me. I just hated myself at that point.”

Gary retreated from the public eye, but continued to ghost-write for other people.

The singer, who at that time suffered from depression, dealt with his issues away from the spotlight and in 2006 decided to reform Take That without Robbie.

Gary also tried to make amends with his former bandmate by inviting him to the hotel he was staying in while in LA to bury the hatchet.

However, their meeting didn’t go to plan and Robbie is reported to have left within ten minutes.

Soon after Gary invited Robbie to his home once again and the pair discussed the tension that had led to the major Nineties fallout.

Gary told the Mirror in 2018: “Living with that kind of feud isn’t right. The chat was like an exorcism. 

“Rob felt that for the last year of Take That, he was crying out to every one of us.

“In the end, he left and we handled that badly. We let him leave the fold and no one looked after him. Robbie was barely 21. 

“What happened between me and Rob always bothered me.”

In 2010, Robbie rejoined Take That for their ‘Progress’ album and tour.

For the hit album, Robbie and Gary penned the song ‘Shame’ together, where they opened up about their broken relationship and attempts at fixing things.

They are now on good terms, having performed together on a number of occasions, including on the X Factor in 2018 and for a special online gig over lockdown in 2020.

Watch Take That at the BBC’ on BBC Two at 9:35pm.

Watch ‘Take That: We’ve Come a Long Way’ on BBC Two at 10:35pm.

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