Interview with BBC Let it Shine winners Five to Five*

Five to Five Let it Shine boy band

From right clockwise: 1) Yazdan Qafouri saying bye-bye 2 & 3) Harry Fabulous Brown being held by a half-naked Sario Solomon, 4) AJ Bentley as Obi-Wan Kenobi 5) Curtis T Johns (and no, Curtis is not Gary Barlow’s lookalike)

Five to Five are a boyband of five (would you say it?) guys handpicked by Gary Barlow, Amber Riley, Dannii Minogue and Martin Kemp who won the BBC Let it Shine in 2017 and are now touring in theatres around the UK with The Band, the official show based on Take That music.

Five to Five are AJ Bentley, Yazdan Qafouri, Curtis T Johns, Sario Solomon and Nick Carsberg. Nick was injured at the moment of this interview and was being replaced by Harry Fabulous Brown, whom I interviewed together with the other four guys: the little* in the title stands for all the boys that are currently touring with The Band, even if “only” 4 out of 5 are actually Five to Five.

In fact, an incredibly stupid side of the story surfaced when I posted this interview on Twitter without the little* to explain that I had only spoken with 4 members of the band out of 5: fans accused me of having replaced Nick (?!) and that I shouldn’t call Five to Five only four out of the actual five.
If you have similar complaints, you can still send them to [email protected]

Hey guys! Can you see me?!

All: Yeah! Hi!

Oh my God, you’re all there…

Yazdan: Yeah, apart from AJ that will be here in a second!

Ok, no worries! So how are you, guys?!

Yazdan, Curtis, Harry: Very good, thanks!

Sario (half-naked): Eeeehehh

Thank you so much for the interview opportunity. You guys are great! I attended the show last week, it was amazing. And I almost cried…

Curtis, Harry, Sario: Oooooooooh!

Yazdan: Thank you so much, Silvia.

My first question for you is: what was your dream job as a child?

Curtis: Ok, I’ll go first. My dream job as a child is that I’ve always wanted to write music. Well, I wanted to be a History teacher, I did History at A-Levels and it was really enjoyable, but then I couldn’t get highly involved in this ever since working in music.

Yazdan: My dream job as a child is that I’ve always wanted to do something in Physics and Maths, I had big dreams to do that, but then when I got to my college years, I realise that I loved it but it wasn’t as big as my love for acting and being on the stage, so I kind of decided to kind of pursuing that for university, like Drama School instead of pursuing an academic route. While I was doing that I was also in the show Let it Shine, and then we won the show, so this is what we’ve been doing now.

This is great. What about you, Sario?

Sario: Oh wow, you say Sario, so you know who I am.

Yazdan: Oh-my-God!!!

Of course, I know who you are, Sario!

Sario: Oh, crazy. So, as a kid, I wanted to be a marine biologist, and I still love David Attenborough’s stuff… and I still love all that stuff…

Are you sure?

(All laugh)

Sario: Ahahah, yeah yeah, I did.

Yazdan: Yeah, he watches plenty of videos with fish and it’s just… you know, it’s kind of weird!

Sario: But it turned out you have to be kind of clever to be a marine biologist… so it’s weird, isn’t it?

Yazdan: And he’s not clever!

Come on, guys…

Sario: Well, you know, I was good at Biology, but not at Physics or Chemistry, so, you know…

I’ve read somewhere that you’re also into trees, are you?!

(All laugh)

Sario: Ahahah, trees… ok, hahaha… so I was also a part-time tree surgeon for a while and yeah, I do love trees as well, so I was a bit of a weird kid!

Harry, what about you?

Harry: When I was a kid, I was always interested in theatre and I wanted to be in the West End, and we’re going to West End in a month, so it’s quite cool actually… this is what I wanted to do as a kid!

What happened to AJ, guys?

Yazdan: We’re going to go and grab him now! Meanwhile, are there other questions you wanted to ask us?

Sure. Is there a job you would never do in your whole life?

Curtis: For me, personally, no, I would do any job, I love to work…

Curtis, what about Gary Barlow’s lookalike?

(All laugh out loud)

Curtis, you looked a lot like him on stage, and then you’ve got a lot of talent for songwriting, too!

Curtis: Thank you!


Yazdan: Well, I don’t know if there is a job that I wouldn’t do… I guess that if you need to work you’ll going to go in moments in your actor’s life when you’re not going to be employed, so you cannot say no to anything… but maybe I wouldn’t probably do adult films!

What about you, Harry?

Harry: To be honest, I would probably do anything, but I wouldn’t want to do anything other than what I want to do.


Sario: Silvia, where are you originally from?

I’m from Rome, Italy. Why?

Yazdan: I went to Rome this Summer, so beautiful!

Sario: Ooooh, wow. What was the question, sorry?

LOL. Sario, is there a job you would never do in your life?

Sario: You know what, it’s controversial… I love to fish, but every time I go fishing I get seasick. You know, on boats you get quite seasick, and this is weird, as I love to fish.

But do you also eat fish?!

Sario: Well, I love fish but I cannot be a fisherman!

Ah ok, AJ is here, finally. What was your dream job as a child, AJ?

AJ: Oh, what was my dream job… I think it was to be a teacher.

What kind of teacher?

AJ: Probably dance. Yes, I dance from an early age, I did think about dance teaching, and I think I got to a certain age when it became like a nightmare…

And is there a job you would never do in your life?

AJ: I don’t think I could be a surgeon… or anything when they cut people’s bodies!

You would faint in front of the blood…

AJ: Yes, I think I would be sick.

Another question for everyone: is there a job you would never do within the music industry?

Curtis: Dancing!

Yazdan: I don’t know, I think there are so many jobs in the music industry and think I just kind of… if I was to work in the music industry, I think it’s such a hard industry to work in that you kind of just feel lucky being in there, so I’d say no, there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do.

So you would write songs for Britney Spears or stuff like that…

Yazdan: Oh well, I think I would make cups of tea for Britney Spears if I got to be around Britney Spears!!!

Haha. AJ, Harry, Sario: what about you, guys?

Sario: For me, I think that would be Opera because I couldn’t do Opera.

Harry: To be honest, for me it would be just like Yazdan, I would do anything.

AJ: There is probably a lot I wouldn’t do, but I think it’s more a point to see what jobs come up, then if you’re interested just go for it, and if you’re not, if it doesn’t intrigue you, or it doesn’t manifest the best of your artistic self, then it’s not worthy.

What if you guys weren’t selected for The Band? What would you be doing now?

Curtis: I would be travelling and writing some music and trying to get songs in some people’s albums.

AJ: Well, I don’t actually know, I think about that quite a lot and I still cannot figure out… I would be probably finishing my Degree badly…

Harry: I would probably be studying at University.

Yazdan: I would probably be studying acting by now.

Sario: I would be a tree surgeon.

Was there a moment in your life when you realised what you wanted or didn’t want in terms of career?

Curtis: For me, it wasn’t like “I don’t want to do this”, it was more like “I really want to do this, and I’m going to do anything to do this”, and this was the point of joining the talent show, ’cause I would have never ever considered this before, but then I saw the Gary Barlow’s thing happening, and I was like: “I’m going to explore that”, and I’m glad I did, ’cause we won.

AJ: Well, I think I’ve always felt like I was destined for something, and I still am, so I think this is just a stepping stone to where things can go, and with being with Gary Barlow, that was always a safe path, it has been something incredible and we had a job at the end of it, so yeah, I think it’s just a great start.

AJ, you auditioned for The X Factor the year before, didn’t you?

AJ: Yes, the year before I was in another boyband and we did The X Factor, and it basically helped me out for this, it gave me a little bit more confidence for this… I’ve always watched The X Factor, so it was just good fun.

Harry, Yazdan, Sario, was there such a moment in your career as well?

Harry: Basically, when I was a kid I always enjoyed theatre, and there were times when I actually thought that I wanted to do it full-time, and then I started studying and then I got into this show, and now here I am.

Yazdan: When I was at the College I was doing maths and physics and I kept telling my friends “I don’t really want to do it”. So, on the back of my mind, I always felt this wasn’t right and that I wasn’t meant to be here, I was dreaming of actually working, and I kept telling my friends that I had this kind of visions… and funnily enough, I ended up in the show!

Sario: A clever answer is a silly answer! For me, the thing is that I’ve always been really restless as a kid, so I’ve always loved dancing and performing, this was always something I knew I was going to pursue, but I didn’t know if this was going to be a career, as I fully know how tough it is, so this is why I went to school and I went on to concentrate on my GCSEs Levels and I got that, and I was going to the Royal Holloway University of London and do studies there, but during my gap year I was very lazy, so my mum told me “you should do something”, and she saw the ad of the TV show, and then… here I am.

What star signs are you guys?

Curtis: Virgo.

AJ: Sagittarius.

Harry: Pisces.

Yazdan: I’m a Scorpio.

Sario: Sario is Cancer.

Sario in third person, of course… What were your favourite subjects at school?

Curtis: History.

AJ: Maths.

Harry: English.

Yazdan: Maths.

Sario: Biology.

What else… what’s the best and the worst of being famous?

Yazdan: I think you should ask when we get famous!

Curtis: The best part of being in a whitelist is that you have a good social media presence, and people want to talk to you after the show. The worst part is that… that people want to talk to you after the show… no, I’m joking! It’s like if you put your life on a platform, people kind of really buy into it and they’re allowed to build perspectives about you, without really knowing you. So you get fans to appreciate what you do, so it’s quite exposing in a way. But you open up your life to criticism, you know, if it’s good, if it’s bad, you kind of put yourself out there.

All: We think we all agree with that.

Are you receiving a lot of bras and teddy bears?

Curtis: Wine, teddy bears, chocolate, candles, t-shirts…

Sario mustn’t receive any t-shirts since he’s walking around half-naked.

Sario: No, I don’t, haha.

Yazdan: I used to get a lot of beer, and I couldn’t bring myself to say that I don’t even drink alcohol, so at the end of last year I was like: “guys, thank you for the beers, but actually we don’t drink!”

Any funny memories from The Band that you want to share?

Yazdan: I think a funny memory we’ve got is that when we were at Let it Shine, we had these earphones, because obviously it’s so loud and there’s so much going on that you wear these on stage, and we could talk to each other, so we kind of had secret conversations. I remember that it was quite fun.

Sario: For me, a funny memory would be that I kept hitting my face with the microphone because I’m not that professional, but in the semi-final, during the dance break, I smashed the microphone into my mouth, so I was basically internally bleeding for all of that song… so this is a funny memory.

Oh no… this is not funny. What are the artists that inspire you the most? Don’t say Take That!

Curtis: Ok, so for me is Brandon Flowers, Paloma Faith, Queen… lots. I love music.

You said Queen… have you watched Bohemian Rapsody, the movie? It is just SO good, it’s just a masterpiece, you MUST go and watch it, it’s just amazing, believe me, it’s amazing!

Harry: Yeah, it’s really good!

Yazdan: I dressed as a Freddie Mercury for Halloween, you know?

(The others stare at me as if I was nuts. Which of course, I am. I went nuts for that movie: Bohemian Rhapsody a true masterpiece)

Right – I’m done with my one-man show about the Bohemian Rhapsody. What about you? Who does inspire you in music?

AJ: Who does inspire me? Oh well, a lot of people inspire me, but I wouldn’t say names… I actually inspire myself.

(All laugh out loud)

Come on, don’t’ you have a favourite artist or something like that?

AJ: Oh Ok, I have to say something… so Queen and Micheal Jackson. And Justin Timberlake I’d say?

So you’ve got this feeling inside your bones

(Damn, I did it again. At least they all laugh out this time…)

Harry, Sario, Yazdan, what about you?

Harry: I love playing my guitar, and Ed Sheeran’s songs inspire me in this.

Sario: For me, as a really young kid, it was listening to my dad’s plays, so at the time it was a lot of Bob Dylan, but as I got older, more things like Panic! at the Disco.

Yazdan: I used to sing a lot of classical choral stuff when I was a kid, and then I also listen to rap music, I love Eminem, but I have quite a varied music taste, and I also like performers like Passenger, so everything really.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Curtis: I will. We just had a short break, obviously, we tour with The Band full time, but in this short break, I love music so much that I released a new EP called Fears, which is available for sale.

Yazdan: And I just went on holidays! For eight weeks after working hard, I went to Turkey, to Italy, Amsterdam, Edinburgh, I went everywhere, it was great.

AJ: I also have an EP that is coming out at the end of this year, it is called Beyond the Clouds, so keep up to date on social media for news and release dates.

★ If you enjoyed this interview and are really into Take That, you will also LOVE All the rules I broke to meet Take That and Dedicated to my fellow 1990s Take That screaming fans

Take That band musical The Band

Howard Donald, Gary Barlow, Mark Owen and Robbie Williams produced The Band – © to the owners

About The Author

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The one behind the wheel.