outline

Cheryl is the number one bestselling biography of the nation’s favourite star. Relive her roller-coaster life of triumph and despair from her humble beginnings in Newcastle to her unrivalled position as the iconic figure for modern women in Britain today.

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Cheryl’s path to fame and fortune has often been difficult, beginning in a grim, working class area where the lives of her friends and family were blighted by drugs and unemployment. The UK’s leading celebrity biographer Sean Smith discovered a remarkable, cheeky and feisty girl whose unique mixture of beauty and talent has conquered the many obstacles in her path. With insight and understanding, he explores the ambitions of a little girl who became a championship dancer and a successful child model but would bunk off school and, at the age of sixteen, entered into a relationship with a drug addict more than ten years her senior. But thanks largely to the support of her mother, Joan, Cheryl took her chance to win Popstars: the Rivals and become part of Girls Aloud, the most successful girl group in UK pop history. The public forgave her after she was convicted of assault on a nightclub toilet attendant and offered sympathy when her turbulent marriage to footballer Ashley Cole crumbled. Now, as a number one solo artist and the star of The X Factor she is facing up to life once more as a single woman.

Fully illustrated, Cheryl reveals the real woman behind the beautiful public face.

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“For some reason Cheryl was not at her scintillating best during Boot Camp week for Popstars: The Rivals and was rightly worried when she was called to face Louis Walsh to hear if she had made the final fifteen. She admits to having negative thoughts, perhaps a legacy of the disappointments in the past when she thought she was within touching distance of success. Not for the last time the emotion of the occasion seemed to overwhelm her and she couldn’t stop crying when Louis told her she was still in. She had made the final fifteen girls. Her mother Joan steadfastly refused to get carried away with it all, preferring to try to keep Cheryl’s feet firmly on the ground. When Cheryl rang to tell her the good news, she replied, ‘Oh, good.’

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Cheryl was able to let her hair down for the first time at the end of the week when the producers threw a party for the thirty boys and girls who were left. All the booze was free and the hotel bar took a hammering. Cheryl found herself being chatted up by one of the boys, a handsome carpet-fitter from Leicester called Jacob Thompson, whose sparkly smile stood out among the crowd. Jacob began the competition sporting some bizarre facial hair, a goatee that did not suit him at all and which Geri Halliwell told him to shave off in no uncertain terms. His look was certainly improved when he did so.

He was a couple of years older than Cheryl and seemed more mature than a lot of the boys, some of whom were very young and wet behind the ears. Chris Park, the other finalist from Newcastle, remembered Jacob being a good-looking bloke, ‘nice enough but very quiet’. Another contestant said, ‘There was just nothing to him, no substance to him. He was no more than a five-minute conversation.’ Cheryl, however, fancied him. The setting was too public for anything much more than a kiss goodnight but the pair swapped phone numbers, promising to meet up soon.

Cheryl and Chris caught the train home together. The pressure was off and the whole experience could sink in. Chris let off steam by practically chain-smoking the whole journey back. Cheryl was not far behind, smoking like a chimney, trying to release the tension of it all. At one point she turned to Chris and practically screeched, ‘What if we get in!”

what sean says

I thought Newcastle was a great city although ignorance is sometimes useful on my travels. I was in Byker, not far from where Cheryl was brought up and went into a pub that looked pretty innocuous on the outside. I strolled up to the bar, ordered a pint and gazed about. There were no pictures of Cheryl but plenty of the most revered Geordie of modern times, Alan Shearer. I could sense that everyone was looking at me, a Southerner obviously out of place.

I spied a green cushioned bench and went and sat down. It collapsed underneath me causing much merriment all around. Someone shouted out ‘You’ll have to mend that now’. I assumed he was joking and laughed happily with everyone else before pretending I needed the toilet and making my way back to the bar, putting my pint down and rushing head down for the exit. Later that evening I was chatting to an old friend of Cheryl’s and told him of my adventure. ‘You went in there without your gum shield?’ he asked.

Incidentally, I was disappointed to learn when I was there that the Byker Grove TV series which launched the careers of PJ and Duncan or Ant and Dec as we know them now was not filmed in Byker. The boys used to take lessons at the same dancing school as Cheryl, although much more reluctantly. On his first visit, Ant announced, ‘This is for poofs’, before adjourning outside for a smoke.