Back when The X Factor was just a glint in Simon Cowell’s eye, 2001 TV singing contest Popstars was the first of its kind.
With a prize of £100,000 plus a place in a band, thousands of hopefuls from across the country auditioned – but it was Kym Marsh, Suzanne Shaw, Myleene Klass, Noel Sullivan and Danny Foster who ultimately won a place in Hear’Say.
But their success proved to be both a blessing and a curse. Their debut single Pure and Simple became the UK’s fastest-selling number one since records began and was followed up with a sell-out tour and a number one album, Popstars.
However, Kim sensationally quit the band in February 2002 after a series of arguments with Myleene, and when Johnny Shentall, husband of Steps star Lisa Scott-Lee, was brought in to replace her, their single ‘Lovin’ Is Easy’ flopped.
Adoration quickly turned to contempt with the band cruelly booed on stages across the country. They were held up by a man with a fake gun at a motorway service station, and when Popstars runners-up Liberty X began to eclipse them, the band called it a day after just 20 months together.
Of their decision to quit, bandmember Danny Foster told The Sun the backlash was too much to bear.
“Hear’Say was a phenomenon at the time and people have seen us grow and evolve into pop stars,” he said.
“We were just cleaners and waiters. It’s been hard work and the pressure has got too much.
“Two months ago we were held up by a gunman and the next day people thought we had made it up as a publicity stunt.”
In happy news for fans, earlier this week it was reported that the group are thinking of marking their 20th anniversary with a reunion, although it will apparently be without Myleene.
They’re said to have been talking over WhatsApp and even met up in September, according to The Sun, with a view to a few tour dates and a possible documentary.
But what have the fivesome been up to in the last two decades? From attacks by youths to heartbreaking divorces and a battle with booze, Mirror Online reveals what came next for the bandmates…
Noel, 40, from Cardiff in Wales felt he’d been left high and dry by the band’s split.
“It’s difficult when you’re in the early 20s and you’re thrown on the scrapheap and told: ‘Right that’s done now,’” Noel told What’s on TV in 2016.
But he turned his fortunes around by landing roles in stage shows such as Fame, Love Shack and What a Feeling, before scoring the lead role of Danny in Grease in the West End.
“I found my feet again in theatre where people are so supportive and so helpful,” he continued.
“So that’s what I’ve been doing, just building a career that nobody can take away from me, which is where I’m at now and it seems to be going in the right direction.”
He made a cameo appearance in Gavin and Stacey in 2010 and starred in the second series of BBC drama Ordinary Lies in 2016, followed by Years and Years in 2019.
The star recently shocked fans with his unrecognisable appearance on This Morning, revealing he’s gained two stone to play Jack Black’s character Dewey Finn in School Of Rock.
He tied the knot with husband James in 2017, and penned a powerful Instagram post about his sexuality, stating he felt pressured to keep it a secret at the height of his fame and telling of the damage that caused to his mental health.
“As a 19 year old, I was told to shut up about my sexuality. If I wanted a career, I had to be something else. Silent. It ruined me,” he said.
“No one was held accountable for the years of depression and self abuse that followed. It got to the point where I felt like I couldn’t speak out anymore because my time in the spotlight had passed and I assumed no one would care.”
Hailing from Hackney, east London, Danny, 41, had been working as a cleaner and youth worker before signing up for the show.
After their split, he met wife Victoria Goddard in 2003 and formed his own group, Danny Foster & The Big Soul Corporation, who perform soul and Motown songs.
He and Noel formed a drag act called Do Blondes Tondres but reportedly split after a few months due to ‘musical differences’. Meanwhile, his attempts at a pop comeback on The Voice failed in 2013 when none of the judges put him through.
In 2016, Danny was lucky to escape with his life after the car he was travelling in apparently burst into flames.
Since leaving the band, Myleene’s career has gone from strength-to-strength.
From number one classical music albums to successful appearances hosting The One Show, Popstar to Operastar and her own radio show on Smooth Radio, Myleene, 42, has never struggled professionally.
But that doesn’t mean she hasn’t been through tough times. In 2005 she was forced to flee after a gang of youths attacked her in a newsagent’s in Bermondsey, London.
According to the BBC, after dropping a bag of chips on her head they pushed the star to the ground, with one shouting, “Shall I b*tch slap her?” before she managed to escape.
Myleene was also left heartbroken when husband Graham Quinn walked out on their marriage soon after their daughter Hero, nine, was born.
The trained pianist, who also had daughter Ava, 13, later admitted she developed a drink problem as she struggled to get a handle of her heartache.
“I remember waking up and thinking it’s OK to have a drink at 11am, because I hadn’t had a drink in five hours,” Myleene told the Yahoo podcast White Wine Question Time in 2019.
Myleene said she struggled to cope with her mental health and feared she would “lose everything”.
“I was doing breakfast TV and I went to get out the car and I thought, ‘I can’t’,” she said of her rock bottom moment.
“I was right in the middle of the divorce. And I opened the door, and I couldn’t get out the car. I couldn’t breathe. Finances were spiralling because I thought, ‘I’m going to lose everything’.”
Myleene is now engaged to PR man Simon Motson, and the couple welcomed son Apollo last year.
But she bravely shared the back-story of his conception, revealing that she suffered four devastating miscarriages before he was born.
“The Dr’s took no chances with Apollo,” she explained on Instagram.
“I injected countless, endless hormones into my belly to keep my placenta working. He signifies everything good in the world to me, my miracle.”
Suzanne, 39, from Bury, Greater Manchester, also launched a career in the West End, appearing in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and The Rocky Horror Show.
She joined the cast of The Bill in 2007; won Dancing On Ice in 2008 and played Eve Birch in Emmerdale until 2011.
She famously dated Darren Day for around 18 months but they split three months after the birth of son Corey, 15.
She moved on with DJ and TV presenter Jason King after meeting on 2005’s Britain’s Worst Celebrity Driver, and they tied the knot in 2009 before going their separate ways in February 2012.
Suzanne is now a fitness influencer and runs her own The Shaw Happy Plan programme. She also welcomed son Rafferty with businessman fiancé Sam Greenfield in 2015.
Kym, 44, from Wigan, was the first to walk out of the band and later said she’d been having blow-up rows with Myleene.
Of one barney before a TV appearance, she wrote in her autobiography From the Heart: “Me and Myleene had a slanging match but someone split us up as we were due to go on air.
“Going on to perform our single was horrible. At one point, me and Myleene had to put our arms around one another. It was so fake and I hated every minute of it.
“We had been overheard arguing by staff at the studios and the following day our row was all over the newspapers. We managed to put it behind us but the niggles remained. I wish we’d been able to explain honestly how we were feeling. But the problems festered.”
According to Kym, the end finally came when a personal story was allegedly leaked to the press by someone close to the group.
“At the start of 2002, we were invited to play to British troops in Oman but I needed to be in the country for my children. There was a misunderstanding that I didn’t want to go to Oman and a newspaper got wind of the story,” she continued.
“I felt utterly betrayed. Then I was asked by a newspaper if I had any comment and I was so angry I said, ‘I quit’.
“I’m sorry I quit through a newspaper rather than sitting down with the rest of the band. If we could have had a chat to clear the air it wouldn’t have been so bitter afterwards.”
Kym married EastEnders star Jack Ryder in 2002 but they split in 2008 when she moved on with Hollyoaks hunk Jamie Lomas.
Tragically, their son Archie was born 18 weeks early in 2009 but passed away shortly after birth. And despite her fractious past with Myleene, the star was one of the first to reach out.
“We hadn’t really kept in contact but, being a mum herself, Myleene rang to see how I was,” she wrote.
“We were both in tears on the phone and, in the days after Archie’s death, we talked more and more.
“Myleene really was there for me. She helped me choose the music for Archie’s funeral and sent the most beautiful bouquet of flowers to the crematorium.
“We have both grown up now that we have children of our own. Life is too short to hold grudges and what happened back then isn’t anyone’s fault. I am determined not to let anything or anyone come between us again.”
Kym and Jamie had daughter Polly in 2011 and married in 2012 before divorcing in 2014. She is now dating soldier Scott Ratcliff.
As for her career, Kym became a household name after joining Coronation Street as Michelle Connor in 2006. She left the ITV soap last December and now hosts a programme for the Crime and Investigation channel called Murder in My Home…