Update: Watch our promo trailer here > The Big Reunion on ITV2
“On stage we were the best ever, off stage we were a train wreck” Scott, 5ive,
“But like Simon Cowell said, he wanted a band with edge and that’s what he got!” Sean, 5ive
Ten years after they ruled pop, for one night only, six chart-topping groups will be reunited in an unmissable TV event.
The Big Reunion will follow their every step, as their worlds are turned upside down after years away from the spotlight. During the series, viewers will see the groups reunited for the first time since they split. For some it’s the chance to relive their dream, for others it may open old wounds as they prepare to face demons they thought they had buried forever.
At their peak, these acts dominated UK pop over a 10-year period from the mid nineties, selling millions of singles, albums and achieving multiple number 1’s. Now they will come together for the first time in a decade, to put on the show of their lives.
The cameras will capture the highs and lows, tears and tantrums as each of the bands hope they can once again discover the magic that helped them adorn magazine covers, sell out multiple arena tours and top the charts back in their heyday.
The Big Reunion, made by ITV Studios, will delve into the lives of these former pop heroes, exploring what happened after they slipped out of the charts. Some have remained in the celebrity spotlight, whilst others left their showbiz lives behind to pursue new careers as diverse as a stilt walker, a midwife, a teacher, a farmer and a wedding photographer.
Each band will have just two weeks of intense rehearsals before they step back onto the stage to perform once again in front of thousands of fans.
Featuring candid interviews, in the first episode of the brand new series, award winning 90’s favourites 5ive and Liberty X exclusively reveal the highs and lows of life at the peak of the pop world.
5ive, the brainchild of Simon Cowell, burst onto the pop scene and rapidly hit the top of the charts but as they reaped the reward of success, on the cusp of breaking America, cracks were appearing behind the scenes.
“On stage we were the best ever, off stage we were a train wreck. Life in 5ive was mental. It was five years of very hard work. You see the inside of a hotel room, an airport, a radio studio, it’s hard,” admits father-of-two Scott.
With reports of in-fighting and boozing, the feisty boys earned a reputation as the bad boys of pop.
Abs confesses: “I know there were times when one of them would be p*ssed off with another one (in the band). There’d be fights going off.”
Richie agrees: “We were difficult, bordering on being ar*eholes. We were delinquents.”
Sean adds: “But like Simon Cowell said, he wanted a band with edge and that’s what he got!”
As they continued to notch up hit after hit, life as a popstar was becoming unbearable for one member and culminated in Sean leaving the group after admitting to suffering a breakdown.
Sean says: “I remember looking in the mirror and thinking to myself, 'Who is that?' I didn’t know myself and I just had the strongest feeling that no matter what happens no matter how much money they throw at me I’ve got to find Sean. Otherwise I make thousands of pounds but I’d be spending it all on therapy."
With the band still performing as a four piece and insisting publicly that Sean’s break down was ‘glandular fever’, Richie reveals it was seeing fellow band mate Scott ‘inconsolable’ that made him realise the band was over.
He says: “We were in this hotel and Scott just broke down, he was crying his eyes out. Jay and I walked out to him and put our arms around him and he said, ‘I just can’t do it anymore.' I remember looking at Jay and he just looked at me and just went, ‘It’s done isn’t it?’ And I went, ‘I think it is.'
Scott continues: “I just wanted a week off from being Scott from 5ive. I was on the edge. We quit at our peak, we were number one at the time and we jumped ship.”
However Abs admits he took the news of the band’s demise badly. He says: “I don’t know what the details were, why Scott had to do what he did exactly because to be honest with you I just felt a little bit like you're taking something away from me.”
For The Big Reunion, the band will be returning as a four piece, without founding member Jay but the band insist the door has been left open for him.
Scott says: “I was annoyed with Jay when he said he didn’t want to be a part of this. I was really angry because I’ve been personally myself been trying to get this band back together for years and years and someone’s let it down. He will be missed. “
Whilst Abs adds: “I don’t want him to regret because it could be something amazing.“
The road to success began bumpily for BRIT Award winners Liberty X. Having failed to land a place in Hear’Say, the band were often referred to as ‘Flopstars’. Signed to Richard Branson Virgin label, it was the release of hit single ‘Just A Little’ which won them a BRIT and brought critical acclaim.
Mum of two, Kelli says: “We’d worked so hard to get to that point, and come from losing the Popstars programme and being called Flopstars and rejects. When we finally won that BRIT it really felt like we’d arrived and deserved to be there.”
Michelle says: “I loved being a pop star, some people take it for granted and I really didn’t. I really enjoyed every minute of it. I enjoyed going to parties, I was young."
Tony adds: “Every very pop band needs somebody who’ll go out and get column inches. Michelle did everything that every self-respecting popstar should do and I think we benefited hugely from the attention that she got. “
Whilst she was relishing her popstar lifestyle, unbeknown to fans Michelle was battling weight issues and on a night out her heart stopped beating and she was rushed to hospital.
Michelle reveals: “I was in this vicious circle of taking more diet pills, trying to lose weight but nothing was losing weight because I was so immune to the diet pills they wasn’t doing their job any more. I was just taking them because I was addicted them. I didn’t look healthy."
With Michelle battling her demons, Kevin and Tony also confess that they had turned to alcohol to help them deal with the pressures of fame.
Tony says: “Myself and Kevin tended to booze an awful a lot. You have this high from performing and your choice is to try and allow yourself to crash straight away to suspend that high.”
Kevin adds: “I’m not ashamed to say that there were times at 7am in the morning I’d be on triple vodka red bulls. The time all went into one so it didn’t really matter when I drank. I’m pretty laid back so when I’m tired it's hard for me to hide it. So I just need a bit of something to take the edge off and get me ready to perform and do all these silly things you do on Saturday morning TV."
Five years after being signed, the band decided to call it day. They were no longer signed to Virgin and instead were with a smaller independent record label. With their budgets slashed and unhappy with the change of direction their music was heading in, the band mates described their last performance as an ‘unremarkable’ gig.
Michelle says: “There was no massive big break up, we didn’t announce it to the world in a dramatic form. There was no press conference or children crying through helplines. It was quite simply we just weren’t there anymore.“
Film maker, Tony adds: “It was a bit of an anti climax and I remember thinking that is not the way to go out. “
As the band prepare to reunite for The Big Reunion, they reveal their excitement and trepidation about being thrust back into the limelight.
Married to cricketer Kevin Pietersen, mum of one, Jessica Taylor says: “I don’t do anything in the spotlight and I haven’t done for a really long time, It took me a lot of time to decide whether or not to do it. I’m in a very safe place with my life, I’m in a happy little bubble and to step outside of that is really scary. I thought I owed it to the guys to make sure I was sure and I am but I’m petrified.”
Whilst an excited Michelle admits: “I can’t wait for fun times to look forward to. I can’t wait to get back on stage.”
The Big Reunion is an ITV Studios production for ITV2. Executive producers are Michael Kelpie and Phil Mount, ITV Studios, Series producer is Kevin Lane, ITV Studios.
Notes to editors:
Atomic Kitten (Natasha Hamilton, Liz McClarnon, Kerry Katona)
5IVE (Ritchie Neville, Scott Robinson, Abz Love, Sean Conlon)
B*Witched (Edele Lynch, Keavy Lynch, Sinead O’ Carroll, Lindsay Armaou)
Liberty X (Jessica Taylor, Michelle Heaton, KevinSimm, Kelli Young, Tony Lundon)
911 (Lee Brennan, Simon ‘Spike’ Dawbarn, Jimmy Constable)
Honeyz (Celena Cherry, Mariama Goodman, Heavenli Roberts)