Girls Aloud’s Nicola Roberts looks back: ‘We were little cows’ | Nicola Roberts

Nicola Roberts and her sister Frankie in 1995 and 2022
Nicola Roberts and her sister Frankie in 1995 and 2022. Later {photograph}: Simon Webb/The Guardian. Styling: Georgia Nash. Archive {photograph}: courtesy of Nicola Roberts

Born in Stamford, Lincolnshire in 1985, Nicola Roberts is the eldest of 4 youngsters and the youngest member of Girls Aloud. Finding fame at 16 as a competitor in TV expertise present Popstars: The Rivals, she and the group went on to attain a number of the largest hits of the 00s, with 21 Top 10 singles and 4 No 1s. She later launched an acclaimed solo album, 2011’s Cinderella’s Eyes, and has carried out in London’s West End and written songs for different artists. Roberts helps the Recycle Your Electricals marketing campaign.

Frankie (on left)

This was taken at our auntie and uncle’s wedding ceremony. Nicola and I have been fairly showy as children; we appreciated the eye. But when it got here to household occasions, we wished to decorate up then go house – do all of it on our personal phrases. That’s why we glance so accomplished.

Nicola and I have been inseparable rising up. When our brothers arrived we have been like mom hens – having to vary nappies and feed them bottles. We’d be foolish, too – at meal occasions we’d faux we have been in a restaurant and we’d host our personal TV exhibits.

While Nicola and I’ve by no means correctly fallen out, we fought rather a lot as children. Ball-of-rage fistfights. There could be props concerned: pans, image frames, plugs, Hoovers – sizzling water was a factor at one level. Nicola was vindictive with it. Once we had an argument, most likely about one thing silly like me transferring her Pot Noodle, and as an alternative of getting me instantly, she bided her time. She mentioned she’d wash my hair earlier than mattress and when it was time to do it she scalded me.

I used to be 13 when she signed up for Popstars: The Rivals. We have been simply these little children who lived within the northwest – and I didn’t actually perceive what was happening. Our household have been at a vacation camp in Devon when Nicola needed to go to the auditions. Every day Dad would come off the cellphone and say, “She got through!” and I’d be like, “Oh great”, not realizing what an enormous deal it was. We’d take journeys to London, 14 of us in a minibus, watch her carry out, then I’d be again house the subsequent day, hanging out with my mates on the road.

Although our local people received behind her – there have been banners on roundabouts saying “Vote Nicola” – the older ladies I’d run into have been jealous of her and imply to me. There have been pockets of actual resentment. I attempted to combat them and all the time knew the best way to rise up for myself, though they have been six years older. They weren’t going to do something.

Whenever Nicola and I’d spend time collectively, we’d all the time do new enjoyable issues. She made her world really feel regular for me, though she was on TV. I liked going to photoshoots together with her or buying and pondering, “I’m going to get all these things that I don’t need!” Fame turned simply one other model of our life collectively.

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That mentioned, it’s exhausting having a sister within the public area. I used to be so younger when Nicola confronted a variety of criticism within the press, the kind of issues you must by no means say about any individual, particularly not a teenage lady. Looking again, it’s actually exhausting to know that somebody you like, somebody so stunning, may have been seen in a adverse means.

Nicola and I have been shut then, however we’re fiercely shut now. She doesn’t even want to talk and I’ll know what she’s pondering or what she would possibly want. It’s us in opposition to the world – however then it’s all the time been that means.


We’re from fairly an enormous household. My mum is considered one of six, my dad is considered one of 4 they usually all had 4 or 5 children every, so we have been all the time at weddings, communions and christenings. This was earlier than the time of straightening irons, so the night time earlier than we’d have put our hair in cotton rags. We’d get up with ringlets, dress, go to the marriage and sit there bored whereas Mum took her five hundredth {photograph} of the day.

Our household lived on a council property in Runcorn known as Halton Brook till I used to be about 9. It was a close-knit neighborhood and also you very a lot stayed in your property, along with your native chip store, church, Catholic faculty. I used to be a tomboy and used to exit with all of the boys on the bikes. Then we moved to a home and I used to spend so much of time in my room, feeling fairly lonely. Frankie liked it, although.

We used to have bunk beds, I’d be on the highest and she or he’d be on the underside, and we’d be capable to converse to one another simply utilizing “mmm” sounds. In phrases of our bodily energy and cheekiness, we have been a complete match, in order that’s why we fought a lot. It was a nightmare for our dad and mom. Mum would attempt to shout at us, and we’d simply chortle. Dad would come house and inform us off for laughing at Mum and we’d simply chortle at him, too. We have been little cows.

Initially, I didn’t get into the ultimate 10 of Popstars, so I got here house. Then the producers requested me to talk on one other ITV present they usually instructed me I’d be going into the home [to live with the rest of Girls Aloud] dwell on air. It was such a whirlwind that I had no time to arrange. I went to London at some point and by no means got here again. I used to be too naive to know what leaving house even meant.

There have been sure factors in Girls Aloud the place I used to be having a nasty time with the media, and consequently I by no means had the chance to get swept away by all of it – I used to be all the time grounded by every little thing else that was happening. Some of the opposite ladies had the posh of being so celebrated they might flourish in a means that was shaping them within the long-term. They appeared to have far more life abilities than me, too. I had come from a small city, accomplished my GCSEs and auditioned for the group, so the one conversations I’d ever had have been with my faculty mates, my lecturers and my household. I didn’t actually know the best way to converse to individuals.

One of the women needed to present me the best way to blow-dry my hair they usually’d have to purchase tampons and sanitary towels for me as a result of I’d by no means purchased them myself. It didn’t make a distinction that I used to be the oldest of 4 again at house – that was a small pond and this was a large ocean. I used to be very a lot winging it, so I used to be glad to have the women take care of me like sisters. It’s horrific to have misplaced Sarah [Harding]. Every day remains to be a shock and utterly heartbreaking.

These days, Frankie is a good soundboard. I really feel as if I’m a bit extra of a reach-for-the-moon kind – intuitively and spiritually sensible – whereas she is extra logical and ebook sensible. We fill one another’s gaps very nicely. Even now I nonetheless really feel like her older sister.

I don’t have youngsters, I’m single, I like my mates – however Frankie is my accountability, and that’s nice.

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