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Girls Aloud have said their shows will “never be the same” without bandmate Sarah Harding – but they will make their reunion shows “magic” in her memory.

In an emotional interview with Sky News, speaking about their newly announced plans for a 15-date arena tour in 2024, Cheryl, Kimberley, Nadine and Nicola said there will undoutedly be emotional struggles on stage as they perform without Harding, who died from breast cancer in September 2021, for the first time.

“It will never be the same again, we accept that,” says Cheryl, “but we’re going to make a new type of sparkle with her in it.”

Singer Sarah Harding from British band Girls Aloud the Brit Awards 2009 ceremony at Earls Court exhibition centre in London, England, Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2009. (AP Photo/MJ Kim)
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Girls Aloud star Sarah Harding died in 2021. Pic: AP/MJ Kim

The stars have said their performances, which mark 21 years since they first formed, will be dedicated to Harding.

“You’re reminded so constantly that she isn’t here,” says Nadine. “She is very much a part of who we are still, a huge part.”

Girls Aloud - (L-R) Cheryl, Kimberley Walsh, Nicola Roberts and Nadine Coyle - have announced a reunion tour of the UK and Ireland in May and June 2024 to mark 21 years since they first formed
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Girls Aloud are back: (L-R) Cheryl, Kimberley Walsh, Nicola Roberts and Nadine Coyle

One of the strangest things, according to Cheryl, has been announcing the news of the tour to press, pausing during interviews at times when Harding would have made jokes.

“Some of the questions we get asked… there are moments like that all day, she’s never far from us.”

‘The fans have lost Sarah as well’

Girls Aloud won the Brit award for best single in 2009, for The Promise. Sarah Harding described it as one of the biggest moments of her life
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Pictured at the Brits in 2009

Rearranging songs to perform for the much-anticipated tour, they know won’t be easy. Harding was an integral part of their harmonies.

“Fans have lost Sarah as well,” says Nicola. “It’s going to be strange for them to see us as a four, it’s going to be strange for us to be a four, but, well, we’ve got to take it one day at a time. We’re going to make it magic for her.”

While the planning of who will sing which lines won’t officially get under way until the New Year, Cheryl says there will be tears once they get back in a rehearsal room.

Read more:
Sarah Harding obituary
Girls Aloud star’s life in pictures

“When we initially start looking at what we’re going to do, how we’re going to do it, how we’re going to sing the song and what that looks like, we’ll have to get all our emotion out then, so we can be strong for the fans.”

“There will be times, I’m sure, that we struggle,” adds Kimberley. “But that’s another great thing about having each other. Hopefully we don’t all struggle at the same time.”

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At a time when music was dominated by male indie bands, Girls Aloud shook up the noughties with a raucous energy, producing some of the best pop singles of the 21st Century, including Love Machine, No Good Advice, Biology, Call The Shots and The Promise – and of course their debut, Sound Of The Underground.

After the band originally formed on ITV reality show Popstars: The Rivals in 2002, they quickly became tabloid fixtures. Dealing with fame and the paparazzi was a traumatic experience for the then teenagers.

“We were children,” says Nadine. “And these are grown men, lying down on the floor as you step out of a car.”

“We were 16, 17 years old,” adds Kimberley. “So wrong.”

Something Kinda Ooooh: Celebrating the legacy

They say they had little choice but to learn to ignore the frenzied level of interest in their personal lives.

This time around, after an 11-year break, the tour will be a chance for their own children to now understand what their mums are famous for.

“It’s going to blow their brains!” says Cheryl.

As for Glastonbury rumours, the band insist they haven’t been asked. They also deny tabloid claims that a new album is planned.

“That’s not what this is about,” Kimberley says. “It’s definitely about celebrating the legacy.”

“Ooh, I like that word,” Cheryl chips in. “Legacy!”

Before Kimberley can question whether what she’s said sounds too grand, Cheryl proudly confirms: “We’ve earned it, two decades in!”

Twenty-one years after the start of it all, I put it to the band that their back catalogue of insanely catchy pop has aged incredibly well.

“A bit like ourselves!” quips Nadine, causing her bandmates to errupt into laughter.

They’ve been through a lot.

While tears on tour seem inevitable, as a band they are determined not to lose that sense of joy and silliness – making sure they give it everything “to celebrate Sarah”.

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Ellie Goulding confirms split from husband Caspar Jopling

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Ellie Goulding confirms split from husband Caspar Jopling

Ellie Goulding has announced that she has split from her husband Caspar Jopling.

The 37-year-old Starry Eyed singer, and the 32-year-old art dealer tied the knot at a celebrity-packed ceremony five years ago.

Ellie Goulding has revealed she is 30 weeks pregnant with her first child
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Pic: PA

They welcomed a son, Arthur, in 2021.

Posting a statement in an Instagram story, Goulding said she had been left with “no choice” but to publicly announce that they have been separated for “some time”.

The Hertfordshire-born singer wrote: “In light of recent stories, I feel I have been left with no choice but to let you all know that Caspar and I privately separated some time ago.

“We remain the closest of friends and have been successfully co-parenting with our son’s best interests at heart.

“We are committed to protecting our family privacy and thank people in advance for respecting our wishes – we won’t be commenting further.”

More on Ellie Goulding

She also shared a story which Jopling had posted on his Instagram account, also confirming their separation.

It read: “Hi people – hope you’re having a good day.

“I feel (sadly) that I need to say something on mine and Ellie’s current relationship… that I hope more than anything will make any final tabloid speculation disappear.

“Ellie and I made the decision to separate some time ago.

“Our immediate family and close friends have known for some time – otherwise we chose to do what we could to keep this private.

“Ellie and I remain the closest of friends, most importantly ‘co-parents’ to the best kiddo in the world, Arthur.

“This is the last I want to say on this – and please ask that you respect mine and Ellie’s privacy. Thanks a lot. Caspar.”

Singer Ellie Goulding marries her finance Caspar Jopling in York Minster
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Pic: PA

Their glamorous wedding ceremony at York Minster in 2019, featured an impressive guest list ranging from pop stars to royalty.

Celebrities including Katy Perry, Orlando Bloom, James Blunt, Sienna Miller, Jimmy Carr and artist Tracey Emin were in attendance.

Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice were also guests along with their mother Sarah, Duchess of York and Eugenie’s husband Jack Brooksbank, who was one of the groomsmen.

Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom arrive at York Minster for the wedding
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Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom. Pic: PA

File photo dated 31/8/2019 of Princess Beatrice and Mr Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, whose engagement has been announced today, attending the wedding of singer Ellie Goulding to Caspar Jopling. Issue date: Thursday September 26, 2019. See PA story ROYAL Beatrice. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne / PA Wire.
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Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi. Pic: PA

The ceremony was followed by a lavish reception at Castle Howard, a stately home near Malton, North Yorkshire.

The couple first became an item in early 2017, getting engaged the following year.

Goulding had previously been in relationships with McFly star Dougie Poynter, radio presenter Greg James, DJ Skrillex and actor Jeremy Irvine, and is also rumoured to have dated singer Ed Sheeran.

She has had four chart-topping albums in the UK, including her most recent collection, Higher Than Heaven, released in 2023.

Goulding toured the UK and Europe late last year with songs from the new album.

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Rod Stewart labels Vladimir Putin an ‘a******e’ and urges support for Ukraine ‘right to the end’

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Rod Stewart labels Vladimir Putin an 'a******e' and urges support for Ukraine 'right to the end'

Sir Rod Stewart has lashed out at Vladimir Putin on the eve of the second anniversary of Russia’s war on Ukraine.

The music veteran branded the Russian president an “arsehole” in an interview with Sky News on Friday night.

And he said revealed his fears about the consequences of the US “pulling money away from Ukraine” as the conflict enters its third year.

Ukraine-Russia war latest

Sir Rod told Sky News’s Friday Night With Niall Patterson: “You let that arsehole into Ukraine, he’ll get into every NATO country.”

“And we’ll have to join the army,” he added.

“We have to support Ukraine right to the end,” he continued, adding: “Peace in the Middle East as well.”

More on Rod Stewart

Sir Rod appeared on Sky News alongside friend and fellow musician, Jools Holland to discuss their new album, Swing Fever.

“We need joy, we live in very dark times,” he told Sky News.

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‘Music brought us together’

Sir Rod described how the album “brought them together”, while pianist and composer Holland revealed how, when Sir Rod first called him to discuss the project, he believed it was a crank call.

Read more on Sky News:
What we know about Putin and his motives
Putin on invading Poland, the war in Ukraine, American ‘spies’

Sir Rod is no stranger to speaking his mind.

In January last year, he called into Sky News to donate for medical scans after hearing NHS crisis stories.

He said it was ridiculous people had to wait long periods for essential treatment and called for a change in government.

Sir Rod said: “I personally have been a Tory for a long time but I think this government should stand down now and give the Labour Party a go, this is heartbreaking.

“In all my years in this country I’ve never seen it so bad… change the bloody government.”

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Jessica Chastain on ‘hiding’ from her co-stars and allowing herself ‘not to be liked’

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Jessica Chastain on 'hiding' from her co-stars and allowing herself 'not to be liked'

Jessica Chastain says she “hid” from her co-stars during her latest project, going out of her way to distance herself and allow herself “not to be liked”.

The 46-year-old Oscar winner, who stars in Michel Franco drama Memory, told Sky News: “Sometimes I play characters who know everything. They’re the smartest person in the room, and they know what’s going to happen.

“It was interesting to play something and to work in a way where you just didn’t know, and you were free to discover.”

She plays Sylvia, a recovering alcoholic, whose past trauma is reawakened when Saul, played by Peter Sarsgaard, follows her home from their high school reunion.

Dopesick star Sarsgaard, chips in: “I don’t mind the smartest person in the room as they also listen.”

Happily married to Oscar-nominated actress Maggie Gyllenhaal for 15 years, he tells Sky News: “I remember when my wife was younger, some arsehole telling her, ‘Oh, you always have to be the smartest person in the room, don’t you?’

“And I think that’s something that’s levelled on people, certain women, especially, and those same people, if they’re really good at what they do, also really listen”.

More on Jessica Chastain

Despite their good working relationship, Chastain explains how she used a method approach to bringing her character’s conflicted emotions towards Saul to the screen.

Memory. Pic: Ketchup Entertainment/Bohemia Media
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(L-R) Peter Sarsgaard and Jessica Chastain. Pic: Ketchup Entertainment/Bohemia Media

‘I didn’t know if the sound of my voice annoyed him’

“Peter and I didn’t really talk on set. We would say good morning to each other, but I kind of hid from everyone. And then we got to know each other as the characters in chronological order.

“So, every time we would get to set and speak, I was looking at him, not knowing how he felt about me, not knowing if he liked me, not knowing if the sound of my voice annoyed him.

“Just these normal things that we think about someone else, I was experiencing as Sylvia because I was allowing myself to not be liked.

“Sometimes you feel like you need to woo someone when the cameras aren’t rolling, so they’ll like you. And I was willing to be ok if he didn’t like me, to find out how the characters would interact.”

Chastain used the same approach with her onscreen daughter, Anna, played by Brooke Timber.

“I hung out with her, I had a lunch with her, but at the same time I kept her this little bit at arm’s length because Sylvia would have acted like that. And I allowed that to create a little bit of an unknowing and a tension between us.”

She goes on: “Sylvia never had an example of what good mothering would be. So, she doesn’t really know how to communicate, and to solve a problem she buys an iPhone for her daughter… I really was discovering a whole new way of mother daughter dynamic in this film.”

Memory. Pic: Ketchup Entertainment/Bohemia Media
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Pic: Ketchup Entertainment/Bohemia Media

‘The goal was Jessica Chastain’

Meanwhile, Sarsgaard’s character Saul faces a different challenge – he is suffering from early onset dementia.

Sarsgaard says he’d never seen this aspect of dementia bought to the screen before, “the period where families are adjusting, people are adjusting to new conditions and trying to figure out how to live their lives”.

Gleaning insight from real-life dementia sufferers, including his own uncle who had the disease, he pieced together a way to faithfully portray the condition in the film.

“For me, the condition in the end was just the obstacle. The goal was Jessica Chastain… He’s just a guy who wants something incredibly beautiful. You know, he wants something that we all want in our lives. And so, it was very easy to play on some level.

“I was playing someone who had nothing to lose and didn’t mind being rejected or partially rejected – I mean I minded it – but my reaction to rejection was always to put my heart out a little bit more, show a little bit more of myself, show up, try to connect.”

Michel Franco’s next feature

Both Chastain and Sarsgaard speak incredibly highly of the man leading the film, Mexican director Michel Franco.

Chastain says the 44-year-old filmmaker whose movies often depict dysfunctional families, kept his cast on their toes.

“He did surprise me from day one when he said during rehearsals: ‘Go to the Target [a big US discount superstore] and find some clothes for Silvia’. I was like, ‘Wow, I’ve never worked like this before, except in drama school where I’m getting my costumes together for scene study class’.”

It’s a process she clearly enjoyed, reuniting with Franco over the summer on his follow-up feature Dreams, which is currently in post-production.

Memory is in UK and Irish cinemas now.

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