Young was born in Wokingham, Berkshire, with a fraternal twin, Rupert. He also has an older sister, Emma. He was educated at Horris Hill preparatory school and Wellington College. He also studied at D'Overbroeck's College, Oxford.
Young read Politics at the University of Exeter and graduated with a 2:2 honours degree. At university, some of his haunts included Timepiece, The Old Firehouse, and Harry's, where he used to work. In September 2001, he became a student at the Arts Educational Schools in Chiswick, London, starting a three-year course in musical theatre with a scholarship.
The songs Young sang on the show were:
He continues to have a very successful music career since appearing on Pop Idol.
In October 2002, Young released his debut album, From Now On, which included "Evergreen" and "Anything Is Possible". It produced three singles: "Light My Fire", "The Long and Winding Road" (a duet with Gareth Gates, released as a double A-side with Gates's song "Suspicious Minds") and "Don't Let Me Down"/"You and I" (released in aid of Children in Need). He won his first BRIT Award in February 2003 as Best Breakthrough Artist.
Young's second album, Friday's Child, was released in December 2003. It features the singles "Leave Right Now", "Your Game" (which won Young his second BRIT Award in 2005) and "Friday's Child". In November 2005, Young released his third album, Keep On, which included the single "All Time Love", nominated in the Best British Single category at the 2007 BRIT Awards. Other singles from the album were "Switch It On" and "Who Am I".
Young has been nominated for eight BRIT Awards. In May 2006, he was voted the UK's favourite artist ever in a poll conducted by commercial radio. In May 2007, he was voted the UK's favourite artist of all time for the second consecutive year.
In November 2007, Young's official website reported that he was in Los Angeles working on his fourth album, and had amassed a large number of tracks from which he would be making a short list for the album. On 29 September 2008, the album, entitled Let It Go, will be released, preceded by the single "Changes", which is to be released on 14 September.
In early 2002, Young joined his fellow Pop Idol contestants in a nationwide arena tour. The final concert at Wembley was in aid of The Prince's Trust, of which Young is an ambassador, together with Gareth Gates and Darius Danesh, the runner-up and third-placed contestant in Pop Idol. In June 2002, Young performed at the Queen's Jubilee Concert in the grounds of Buckingham Palace, singing "We Are the Champions" with Queen members Brian May and Roger Taylor.
During July 2002, Young sang at two concerts with the renowned songwriter Burt Bacharach at Hammersmith Apollo and at the Liverpool Summerpops event. In August 2002, he performed at the closing ceremony of the 2002 Commonwealth Games, singing "I Get the Sweetest Feeling" in the pouring rain. He was praised by the announcer, Grandmaster Flash, who said that it was not easy entering a talent show. November 2002 brought an appearance at the Royal Command Performance. In November 2003, Young performed the wartime song "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square", accompanied by The Squadronaires, at the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall in London.
Following a sell-out theatre tour in 2004, Young appeared at The Olympic Torch Concert, performing a duet of "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" with soul legend James Brown. Later that year, he embarked upon his first solo arena tour, another sell-out success. He toured again at outside festival venues in mid 2005. In July 2005, he performed at Edinburgh 50,000 - The Final Push, the final concert of Live 8, a charity concert in Edinburgh to raise awareness of the plight of Africa, where he duetted with James Brown once again and also sang with One Giant Leap, Neneh Cherry and Maxi Jazz. In November 2005, Young appeared in his second Royal Command Performance.
In May 2006, he sang at The Prince's Trust 30th Birthday, which took place at the Tower of London. From 12 September until 2 October 2006, Young toured the UK with his Keep On Live tour, which included the songs taken from his album Keep On and a selection of past songs. The official merchandise range for the tour, highlighted by the press, included a "tip and strip" pen which, when turned over, reveals Young in his underpants. In October 2006, Young sang at Nitin Sawhney's concert in the BBC Electric Proms series of concerts. He followed this by performing in South Africa for Nelson Mandela's Unite of the Stars charity concerts.
In July 2007, he appeared at the Concert for Diana at the new Wembley Stadium. Young was the headline act at the Proms in the Park, which took place in Hyde Park in September 2007 as part of the Last Night of the Proms. In September 2007, Young performed at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club with the Vanguard Big Band. Young took part in the Little Noise Sessions, a series of intimate, acoustic gigs for the learning disability charity, Mencap. He performed in November 2007 with special guests at Islington's Union Chapel.
In April 2008, Young again appeared at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club with the Vanguard Big Band. Young is to perform at various festivals during mid 2008, including Glastonbury, T In the Park in Scotland and Bestival on the Isle of Wight.
Young is also featured singing in trailers for the recording/film making group 1 Giant Leap's newest project "What About Me?" (http://www.whataboutme.tv.) He appears at ~ 1.30 in the "Bombardment" episode trailer, and in the trailer on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4EfdaxUiO0) at ~4.17 .
Young added acting to his repertoire when he accepted a role in the BBC film Mrs. Henderson Presents, starring Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins, in which he played Bertie. The film was released in the UK in November 2005 to excellent reviews—not least for Young's performance as both actor and singer in the film. The scene, in which Young appears naked, postdated his "absolutely thrilled" acceptance of the British male Rear of the Year Award 2005, an accolade to add to the Most Stylish Male Music Star, Best Bod, Sexiest Star, Best Dressed and Best Hair awards he had already won.
Young trod the boards in the Royal Exchange Theatre's production of The Vortex by Noel Coward. This production ran from January to March 2007 and Young played the leading role of Nicky Lancaster. Critics, including the well respected and acclaimed critic Nicholas de Jonghe, thought Young played the role of Nicky just as it should have been played and he wrote, "revelatory Will finds key to Coward classic".
In November 2004, Young presented a documentary entitled Runaways as part of the Children in Need campaign, highlighting the problems facing distressed teens who run away from home, and the plight they were in being picked up off the streets and railway stations by pimps who offered them work and drugs. The children did not know where to go for immediate help unless they were picked up by the police and sent to a refuge centre.
During June 2007 a series of documentaries entitled Saving Planet Earth was shown on BBC Television. Young filmed an episode about saving the gorillas of West Africa during his visit to Africa earlier in the year.
Young supports the charity Women's Aid, about which he wrote: "I am proud to put my name beside this cause, and hope that I might be able to help more people affected by the terrors of domestic violence, as well as help to create a wider awareness within our society."
Young also supports Mencap—about which he wrote, "I'm very much in this for the long term, and I'd like to help continue to break down peoples' misconceptions and prejudices"—, The Children's Society Safe and Sound Campaign, and Positive Action Southwest (PASW) , for which he performed at his first solo concert, in July 2003, at Killerton House, Exeter.