What’s Sing It To Win It all about?
Good Morning Britain is auditioning groups of three to ten people who need to upload a video performing a song from the first Now That’s What I Call Music album. They go through to a final in front of a panel, I’m the head judge, and the song will feature on the 100th Now… album.
Does it bring back memories of doing Popstars The Rivals?
Yes, that was an intense competition. It’s character-building — you have to do these sorts of auditions if you want to be a singer. I was very nervous doing that show. I’d grown up doing lots of amateur productions but I’d always have a positive nervous energy. Doing Popstars was the first time I experienced full-on fear. People can underestimate how intense performing to millions on live TV can be.
Do you have any tips on how to manage nerves?
I’ve worked with vocal coaches who have given me tips doing musical theatre. When you get really nervous you can get short of breath, which is why your first notes can sound a bit wobbly. If you blow out before you sing, you then have to take a deep breath, which is how you can control those first notes.
Did Louis Walsh give you good advice on Popstars or when he briefly managed Girls Aloud?
Not really. He wasn’t that involved. In a way he did us a favour — it meant we had to take control of our own career and we learned a lot very quickly about the industry.
Do young people have it easier now they can just get signed from doing YouTube videos?
It’s not easier at all because now it’s all about self-promotion. They can get their voice heard more easily but now record labels expect you to do a lot of the work before you get signed. They expect you to build up hundreds of thousands of followers and get your own fan base before they’ll sign you. At least with us we got a deal and the label helped build that up around us.
Will there ever be a Girls Aloud reunion?
Who knows? It was an amazing experience and we all love the group but it’s a case of everyone’s planets aligning and if we all want to do something at the same time. Never say never.
How did you think Sarah Harding did on Celebrity Big Brother?
I didn’t see much of it because my youngest son was a newborn, so I was asleep by 8pm every night. But she won it, which is amazing. I spoke to her and said I was proud of her — it’s a hard thing to do. I wouldn’t do it. It’s a crazy environment to be in.
What are your ultimate ambitions?
I’ve fulfilled all of them — so everything I do now is a bonus. I’m a working mum so it fits around them. My early ambitions were to be a pop star and do musicals. I’ve got married, had two babies and climbed Kilimanjaro. I’ve been very lucky.
You did that for Comic Relief — are people a bit cynical about all those celebrity challenges?
I think they are — and the programme didn’t show the grittiness of it because none of us wanted to be filmed at the grimmest times. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve done. You walk 13 hours a day in minus temperatures across desolate ground so there’s not much to focus on. It was just about getting to the top and raising as much money as we could. People had altitude sickness and we’d see people getting carried down the mountain every day. It’s dangerous. It took seven days to get up and three to get down and you’re shut off from the world, sleeping in a tent in freezing temperatures. It was a mental challenge but it shows you can overcome most things if you put your mind to it.
Did you make any friends?
I feel like I know all of them quite well from doing that — we’ve all got that bond. Alesha Dixon, Fearne Cotton, Gary Barlow, Chris Moyles — I’ve got a lot of love for everyone I climbed with.
What lessons has your career in showbiz taught you?
Expect the unexpected — you never know what’s around the corner. Go with your instincts and do what makes you happy. And if you want to be successful you have to take the knockbacks and be hard-working and determined. Andrew Williams
For Sing It To Win It details see itv.com/GMB. Closing date is tomorrow, 5pm