Pete Waterman appeared on Good Morning Britain today and spoke about working with Sarah Harding, who sadly passed away yesterday to cancer aged 39.
Pete was a judge on Popstars: The Rivals when Sarah auditioned and made the final five, which became Girls Aloud. On his first impressions of Sarah, Pete told Susanna Reid and Ben Shephard:
“She was just a lovely, lovely young kid. She couldn’t believe she was in this competition, she’d bubble with enthusiasm. She was just real and that’s what the programme picked up – her ordinariness. She had enthusiasm, she was the girl next door, that’s why she was in the band. The public loved her.”
Susanna asked if he’d spotted star quality instantly and Pete said:
“This is obviously 20 years later, but yes, certain people, when they walk in the room, have an aura about them and you pick up, that’s what you’re looking for. She did that, there’s no question about that. There was no question she would be in the final band. There were probably 10 people that could have made it.”
“I remember talking to her at times during the show, saying, ‘Don’t worry, don’t worry, you’re going to be there.’ Because she always doubted herself. She had the enthusiasm, but she didn’t over self believe.”
Ben mentioned Sarah wrote in her book that she felt she was ‘winging it’ from week to week on Popstars: The Rivals and Pete replied: “Of course she was winging it, that was the beauty of it. Isn’t that the kid next door that suddenly wins a tenner and gets in the sweet shop and doesn’t know what to buy next? Of course, she was winging it, but she was absolutely excellent at it – that’s why she’s so good. I guess there comes a point where you think, ‘That’s real, I can do this.’ That’s when it becomes a little bit looser.”
“That’s the thing you don’t see about them – you read about the wild child, but she was very, very polite. Her and her mum were smashing. When I went to their house, we went upstairs, jumped on her bed with excitement and then had a cup of tea. That was the Hardings, it was fantastic.”
“The first thing all people forget about this job – it is hard work. It’s 20 hours a day, cameras in your face, journalists on the phone, it can be not fun… it becomes a little bit tiring and the shine goes off it a bit and all the demons start to kick in. That is absolutely natural. It’s very hard to say to young people, ‘Calm down because this is not going to last forever because everybody thinks it’s going to last forever and of course, it never does.”
Susanna asked if Pete had spoken to Sarah during lockdown when she discovered she had cancer and Pete said: “No, this is an incredibly personal thing and this is something only a lady can deal with. She’s locked down, I didn’t bump into her at all during this period. It’s an incredibly difficult period, I don’t know how you’d deal with that. And Covid and lockdown must make it worse because you don’t feel like you can go out and feel normal.”
GMB, ITV from 6 am weekdays. Catch up on the ITV Hub.