“There’s been many occasions where we woke up not knowing what went on the night before but there would be two women in my bed, I wouldn’t know who they were or their names.” Jimmy Constable, 911.
“That fight really ruined their (Kerry and Liz’s) relationship. It didn’t end on a good note for them at all.” Natasha Hamilton, Atomic Kitten
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 next instalment it’s the turn of 90s chart toppers 911 and Atomic Kitten to reveal the highs and lows of life as a popstar.
Girl band Atomic Kitten burst onto the pop scene with their infectious personalities, but Kerry Katona, Natasha Hamilton and Liz McClarnon admit that the claws were out from the very beginning.
Talking about the first time she met Natasha, Kerry says, “I didn’t like her (Natasha). (I thought) this was my band, 'Who the hell does this sixteen year old girl think she is coming under my roof criticisng my dance routines. Sorry I’m just not working with her.'”
Natasha adds, “From day dot there was drama. I think I pushed her (Kerry’s) nose out a little bit. “
But, after their initial hiccup Kerry and Natasha soon became close.
Natasha confirms, “Me and Kerry did become really close friends she was like my big sister.“
Kerry adds, “Liz was the one who’d go to bed early and be the good girl, while me and Tash were like, ‘Let's go out partying.’ (We were) causing trouble.”
Liz reveals, “Tash and my relationship, it was like that sister that you didn’t really see much unless you kind of had to. “
Tash admits, “I used to get annoyed with Liz because Liz never had a yes or no opinion.”
Liz reveals one particular incident with Natasha, she says, “Tash was always very tough, very straight down the line and I was always very sensitive. We had a massive gig in GAY once and she just turned round to me and said, ‘You didn’t do that step right on stage.’”
Natasaha confesses, “I said, ‘Why did you do that? We said you wouldn’t do that.’ It got more and more angry to a point where we were literally screaming at each other.”
Liz then adds, “She just launched at me. You know when you go, ‘What the hell just happened?’”
Kerry’s likeability and infamous personal life catapulted her into the spotlight. Having bagged a popstar boyfriend, Westlife’s Brian McFadden, the pressures of being in a girlband were beginning to take its toll.
Kerry recalls one incident with Liz, “I rang the tour manager and said can I bring Brian (McFadden) with us. We picked Tash up then went to pick Liz up, but Liz had her younger brother Joe with her.
Liz continues, “I didn’t know she (Kerry) was bringing Brian with her for the day, I’d cleared it with the tour manager that I could bring my little brother. As Brian was already in the car the main thing was that Joe was not going to be able to get in the car so that really, really, really annoyed me…I hit her.”
Kerry continues, “Well that was it I undid my seatbelt, I’ve gone for her. I kicked her out the car. I said, ‘Drive off.' I left her in the street. I was screaming, I was so angry. (After that) I used to make her get changed in the in the toilets. On stage, I’d stamp on her foot.”
Natasha, adds, “That fight really ruined their relationship. It didn’t end on a good note for them at all.”
But after discovering she was pregnant, Kerry left the band and the remaining members were joined by Jenny Frost. Soon after, their single ‘Whole Again’ went to number one and catapulted the girls into pop stardom.
Success continued, with their second single Eternal Flame also reaching number one, but cracks begin to surface again as Liz struggled to cope with a self-confessed lack of confidence, whilst Natasha suffered post natal depression after the birth of son Josh.
Liz adds, “With the success comes the people that don’t like you for someone like me, that gets hard. A 100 people could say ‘you're fabulous’ but one could say 'you’re rubbish' and I would crumble.”
After the birth of her son Natasha said, “I wasn’t feeling confident in myself and my body. When you come back into a band where the other girls are preened perfectly looking amazing (whilst I was) coming back feeling a bit battered and bruised.”
A tearful Natasha continues, “It was a lot of pressure to put on me, to have a baby and to be expected to kind of cut my tie so quickly. One of things to help me get through it was talking to the record label and saying, ‘Look I’m missing my son so much can we work out something where he can come along with me? I’ve asked my mum she said she’d be his nanny.’"
“I thought him being on the road with us with solve all my problems and in fact it made it ten times worse. I was always doing something and I could see him in the corner of my eye, he was playing with my mum and I used to think, 'I should be doing that I’m his mum.' He’d fall over and run to my mum and I was like, 'I want him to run to me.' I just wanted someone to say ‘What’s wrong?’ And no one ever did, not for a long time.
“(It took) Nine months of being back at work before someone said to me, 'You’ve got post natal depression.' Up until that point I thought I was going mental. I just pulled the girls into the room and said, ‘I’m leaving and that’s it, I’m not well.’ They just hated me. My decision to leave the band ended their career and I know they were bitter. I remember saying to my mum, ‘Mum I wish I was dead.’ And I meant it.“
With the original line up back together for the first time since 2001, Liz admits her reservations.
Liz says, “I think it could be very easy for us to fall back into old relationships, I wouldn’t say I’m scared about that, I’d say I’m petrified about it.
Kerry adds, “My personal life took over from what I was actually good at and what I actually enjoyed doing. I feel like I’ve done a full circle. I started my career in the industry being a popstar and I’ve been through hell and back since then. I think people actually forget I was in Atomic Kitten.”
Boyband, 911 had one reason to form a pop group….women!
Dancers Simon ‘Spike’ Dawbarn and Jimmy Constable were already minor celebrities with a regular slot on the Pete Waterman show The Hit Man and Her.
Hoping to follow in the footsteps of fellow dancer Jason Orange, the pair started the search for their lead singer.
Jimmy says, “The sooner we can find some vocal talent the sooner we can get on the road and find some women, that’s all we were in it for. “
They recruited singer Lee Brennan and four years later the trio hit the big time with their hit single ‘Bodyshakin’.
Lee adds, “Our manager always said, 'This is your image as a clean cut boy band.' And he did tell us no girlfriends and all that stuff at the start, which obviously we ignored. Jimmy was naughty, Spike was the naughtiest, he was a dirty one!”
Spike adds, “We were just up all night with the women and drinking.”
Jimmy admits, “I was like a walking hormone. There’s been many occasions where we woke up thinking I don’t know what went on last night, all I know is there are two women in my bed, I don’t know who they are, what their names are but I’ve just called a taxi for them.“
After one particular raucous night of partying in strict Muslim country Bahrain the trio were almost arrested and faced deportation from the country.
Spike explains, “(The authorities) ended up taking us to the stage, putting us on stage and then driving us straight to the tarmac of the airport and deporting us.“
However, their hectic working schedules and partying were beginning to take their toll and whilst they were topping the charts, behind the scenes the trio were struggling to cope.
Spike reveals, “We had about ten days off in three years. Looking back then it was basically like being in prison.”
Jimmy adds, “It was getting ridiculous. We were getting to photo shoots and it was like, 'How can you put me in the magazine when I can’t even open my eyes?' The pressures of fame do affect you and no matter how good the friendship is eventually the music business will take over you.”
Lee confesses, “I remember crying and just saying, ‘I can’t cope with it all.’”
Jimmy also admits he was beginning to feel resentful of Lee’s ‘front man’ status.
He says, “Even though you know you have a lead singer for the band I think I started to think, 'I wouldn’t mind a bit of this.' I probably was resenting him and wanting a bit more of the action I suppose. We did some promotion out in America in a radio station. I remember walking out this kind of corridor and he (Lee) said something and basically I lost it. It almost turned into a brawl but Spike calmed it down.”
As each of the band mates battled their demons, Lee and Spike decided that their Greatest Hits tour would be the end of 911.
Jimmy admits, “Spike and Lee decided to drop this massive bombshell and I was completely gob smacked and gut wretched. I think I went to my room and usual thing, got the Jack Daniels out.”
Spike reveals, “We knew we’d reached our peak and we were kind of that little decline and we thought, 'It's best getting out at the top.'”
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)