Kym Marsh recently celebrated her 46th birthday, and fans were left stunned at her age-defying looks.
However, they were more shocked to realise it was more than two decades ago that she shot to superstardom in the band Hear’Say, after being picked to sing in the pop group alongside Danny Foster, Myleene Klass, Suzanne Shaw and Noel Sullivan.
They released their hugely successful debut single, Pure and Simple, in 2001, and sold more than three million records.
But, after just 18 months together, Kym sensationally quit the band after reported feuds with fellow members Myleene and Noel.
She was replaced by Johnny Shentall, but the pop group could no longer carry on, and parted ways just a few months later.
Kym was 25 when she quit Hear’Say, and mum to two young children - David and Emilie.
“I am grateful for everything that has happened to me through being in Hear'Say, but I've had enough of it all,” she told The Sun at the time.
“I want to go out and do my own thing now. I'd like to put my own band together, write my own songs and have a solo singing career,” Kym explained.
The star was a penniless single mum when she applied for Popstars, after being encouraged to pursue her singing career by her mum.
In July 2000, she met Nigel ‘Mr Nasty’ Lythgoe, and from that moment on, her life was changed.
“I’ll never forget when this people-carrier was sent to my house to take me to London. I felt like I was stepping into a new life and the house I moved into with the band was amazing,” she told The Mirror in 2011.
She said she was earning good money, but she was subjected to cruel taunts about her weight, and was left heartbroken when Nigel called her fat in front of the cameras.
“You need to lose some weight. It's alright saying, 'Oh Christmas was there.' Well, the goose has gotten fat,” he told her.
“Do you think I'm fat?” she replied.
“I think you've put weight on over Christmas and I think you needed to lose weight before Christmas,” Nigel cruelly added.
She was crestfallen, and later confessed she’d developed an eating disorder and issues with her body confidence.
But her time in the band was about to get worse, as she and Myleene - who were close friends - had begun to bicker, and were constantly arguing.
She said tensions were building in the band, and she started to feel “really lonely and stressed out”, as she was spending a lot of time away from her two children.
And after Kym discovered someone in the band had sold a story about her to a newspaper, she angrily quit.
“I’m sorry I quit through a newspaper rather than sitting down with the rest of the band. If we could have had a chat to clear the air it wouldn’t have been so bitter afterwards,” she mused.
Kym went on to enjoy a briefly successful solo career, and later, landed a role on Coronation Street as Michelle Connor.
Now, the former bandmates have reconciled, and Kym said they were working on reuniting for the group’s belated 20th anniversary.
“It’s worth celebrating and marking it and we’re all agreed it would be great to do something to celebrate,” she told The Sun.
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