You'll have been hard-pressed to avoid Cheryl Cole’s rise to fame. From a member of one of the UK’s most successful girl groups to ‘Our Chezza’: wronged wife and X Factor judge, she is now the nation’s sweetheart and tabloid darling.
Born Cheryl Tweedy, her early life was inauspicious; a hard-scrabble upbringing on Newcastle council estates gave way to a budding desire to dance and sing as she featured in catalogues and British Gas adverts.
Having left school at 16 with few qualifications, Cheryl was working as a waitress when she auditioned for 2002 reality show Popstars: The Rivals, and fought off the competition to become a part of the group that would eventually become Girls Aloud. The band landed their first number one single with Sound Of The Underground, and dominated the charts for over half a decade with a stream of solid-gold pop monsters.
Although attracting all the wrong type of publicity for an altercation with a nightclub attendant in 2003, Cheryl brought the red-tops back on side with her romance with footballer Ashley Cole. The pair married in 2005 until it was alleged that Ashley had cheated on her in 2008. The couple reconciled, but finally divorced in 2010 after further reports of infidelity.
By then Cheryl's career was stratospheric; earning a place on the X Factor judges’ panel in 2008 saw her win the hearts and minds of the nation, and going solo with mega-selling albums 3 Words and Messy Little Raindrops. Even a life-threatening brush with malaria in 2010 couldn’t slow her down, and Chez thought she'd got her biggest break yet in 2011, as she joined the panel of the US version of The X Factor. Poised on the edge of global fame, Cheryl was soon brought back down to earth when she was unceremoniously dumped from the show after just two weeks of auditions.