Sarah Nicole Harding, singer and actor, was born on 17 November 1981. Harding rose to fame with Girls Aloud on ITV’s Popstars.
Sarah Harding: Girls Aloud Star Dies Aged 39 from Breast Cancer:
The Rivals in 2002, alongside Cheryl, Nadine Coyle, Nicola Roberts, and Kimberley Walsh. Sarah Harding: Girls Aloud Star Dies Aged 39 from Breast Cancer.
Who was Sarah Harding:
Born in Ascot, Berkshire, Harding was the only child of John Hardman, a professional musician, and his wife, Marie.
Her parents separated when she was 14 and she and her mother moved to Stockport; Marie divorced John when he met a much younger woman.
This development so disgusted Sarah that she changed her name to Harding and did not speak to her father again.
She left Hazel Grove high school without taking her GCSEs. The intention was to become a singer, to which end she studied performing arts at North Cheshire Theatre College. To pay the bills, she got an NVQ in hair and beauty.
Gigs with a local band and as a solo performer were getting her nowhere; trying to “get some profile”, she sent a topless picture to FHM magazine’s High Street Honeys competition, and made the final 100.
As it turned out, she did not need the boost. Months later, having auditioned for both the Fame Academy talent show and Popstars: The Rivals, she was picked by the latter.
Sarah Harding Career Highlights:
On the day Sarah Harding auditioned in August 2002 for the ITV talent show Popstars: The Rivals, the judges made up their minds in a trice.
“You’re through, you’re going to London,”
the record producer Pete Waterman told the 20-year-old singer before she had finished the first verse of the Bananarama song Last Thing on My Mind.
Whatever he saw in her – then just nerves and a blistering voice – was justified four months later, when the public voted her into the newly minted quintet Girls Aloud.
Record producer and Popstars: The Rivals judge Pete Waterman told Sky News that he will,
“always remember her smile and the friendship and that bouncing on the bed”
…when he revealed she would be part of Girls Aloud.
“That’s what you do when you’re so excited, you don’t think of the television cameras, you just enjoy yourself, and that was why programmes like Pop Idol… work, particularly because you’ve got young people who are so excited.
“It just showed the public just love that raw excitement and raw emotion as young people really enjoying themselves, and that’s why I’ll always remember that moment when we told her, ‘yes, you were in the band’ and it was like suddenly… they could have a magic moment.”
Much greater than the sum of their parts, Girls Aloud were as masterful a pop outfit as Britain has ever produced, and in Harding, who has died aged 39 of cancer, they had both a powerful vocalist and a self-described “loon”.
The band got to Christmas number one that year with their debut single, Sound Of The Underground, and went on to become one of the most successful pop groups in British music history.
“I’m mad, aren’t I?”
…was her semi-explanation when the group’s manager, Louis Walsh, asked why she found it hard to learn their dance routines.
Every band has a member who views the perks of stardom as a challenge, and Harding took on that role; a picture of her drinking whiskey from a bottle at the 2007 NME awards became a defining image, and she acquired the nickname, Hardcore Harding.
At the time, she was not displeased.
“I used to think I was Liam Gallagher, flicking the Vs at the camera, thinking I was rock’n’roll. [But Hardcore] was just a nickname. I’m not on that party scene anymore, and I don’t want to be,” she said in 2015. She had reason to distance herself.
In 2009, Girls Aloud had taken a break that, apart from a brief reunion four years later, turned out to be permanent, leaving Harding a free agent.
But being handed the reins to her career was not an unalloyed blessing.
“We didn’t have advice when we ended. It was very quiet – the calm after the storm. I wasn’t prepared. It was like all or nothing and suddenly there was nothing.”
Around the same time, her fiance, the DJ Tom Crane, with whom she owned a bar in London, called off their engagement via Twitter – it was news to her, apparently, and she began to drink excessively.
She also became addicted to sleeping pills and in 2011 was treated for depression and substance misuse.
After leaving the clinic she began a brief relationship with another former patient, which ended in a drunken fight during a Christmas trip to Austria.
Two years later she received a driving ban after nearly colliding with a police officer while using her phone. Once Harding’s vulnerability had been revealed, the tabloids and social media rarely stopped gunning for her.
Running alongside the personal-life stories were her attempts to find an identity after being one-fifth of a girl group for seven years.
Girls Aloud had had a straight run of 22 Top 20 singles (including four No 1s) and five Top 20 albums, but the window for solo opportunities were open only for a brief spell.
The other ex-Girls released solo records, but Harding, who had had the leading role in St Trinian’s 2: The Legend of Fritton’s Gold while still in the band, considered acting a more interesting goal.
Other than a four-part role as the cheated-on Joni Preston in Coronation Street, however, few decent parts came her way.
On the other hand, celebrity reality TV vied for her reliably witty services. She gamely learned gymnastics on Tumble, tore a ligament in The Jump, made pig on toast in Celebrity MasterChef, cried while revisiting her childhood bedroom in Wraysbury, Berkshire, on Celebrity Home Secrets and won the 2017 series of Celebrity Big Brother.
Her next major work project would have been a tour with Girls Aloud in 2022 to mark the 20th anniversary of their formation. All five members had agreed to participate and she saw the reunion as a profile-raising lifeline.
In March this year, she released a single, Wear It Like a Crown, which reached No 1 on iTunes – her only solo song to do so – after a persistent campaign on the Popjustice website, and published a memoir, Hear Me Out.
In addition to her music success, the star had a varied career in acting and television, with credits including roles in the St Trinian’s films and BBC drama Freefall, opposite Dominic Cooper, as well as a stint on the famous cobbles of Coronation Street.
In 2016, she made her stage debut in Ghost – The Musical at the New Wimbledon Theatre in southwest London, and the following year appeared in Celebrity Big Brother: The Musical. Reviews had been scathing,
“Sarah Harding explores the afterlife of a pop music career,” said the Irish Times.
And that was one of the polite ones – and the episode marked the end of her attempt to establish herself as an actor. which she went on to win. She had already had a go at reviving her musical career in 2015 with a dance song called Threads; it failed to reach the main singles chart.
Girls Aloud singer Sarah Harding dies of cancer:
Girls Aloud star Sarah Harding went public with her cancer diagnosis in August 2020, saying she hoped she could help others.
In August 2020, she announced that she was ill.
“Earlier this year I was diagnosed with breast cancer and a couple of weeks ago I received the devastating news that cancer has advanced to other parts of my body. I’m undergoing weekly chemotherapy sessions and I am fighting as hard as I can.”
In March 2021, she released her autobiography, Hear Me Out, explaining that she had decided to go public about her illness to potentially help others who might be worried about seeing a doctor, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There had been so much reporting on the news about people missing out on check-ups during COVID lockdown, even though they might be worried about something,” she said in the book.
“People who had left a cancer diagnosis until it might be too late. Maybe if I spoke out, as a public figure, a celebrity, it could help get the message across how important it is to get checked out if you have concerns.
“As scary as it was to go public about my diagnosis, it was the right thing to do, and the amount of support I’ve received is incredible. I’ve been inundated with lovely messages from my fans. I’m grateful beyond words for that.”
On Instagram, her mother Marie wrote: “It is with deep heartbreak that today I’m sharing the news that my beautiful daughter Sarah has sadly passed away.
View this post on Instagram
She is survived by her mother.
Sarah’s mother said,
“She slipped away peacefully this morning. I’d like to thank everyone for their kind support over the past year.
“Many of you will know of Sarah’s battle with cancer and that she fought so strongly from her diagnosis until her last day.”
“It meant the world to Sarah and it gave her great strength and comfort to know she was loved. I know she won’t want to be remembered for her fight against this terrible disease – she was a bright shining star and I hope that’s how she can be remembered instead.”
Sarah Harding died on 5 September 2021.
Tributes pour in for Girls Aloud singer Sarah Harding on Twitter:
There has also been an outpouring of condolences on Twitter, with celebrities such as actor Martin Kemp, Steps star Ian “H” Watkins and presenter Vernon Kay all passing on their love.
39 is no age … absolutely heartbreaking! RIP Sarah Harding 😔
💖 PLEASE!! check your breasts, armpits and collarbone regularly 💖 pic.twitter.com/x3FV9ftAhS
— Scouse Socialista 🟨🟥 (@ScouseSocialis2) September 5, 2021
Host of Popstars: The Rivals, the show on which Harding found fame, Davina McCall, wrote: “So so sad to hear about Sarah… a star from the get-go, hugely fun and outgoing yet also somehow fragile… love to her family and friends”.
Spice Girl Geri Horner also tweeted, saying: “Rest in peace, Sarah Harding. You’ll be remembered for the light and joy you brought to the world.”
The most common type of cancer in the UK is Breast Cancer.
See your GP as soon as possible if you notice any changes to the way your breasts usually look and feel.
Sending love to everybody affected by Breast Cancer.#BreastCancer #SarahHarding #allontheboard pic.twitter.com/ChhqCSt0QS
— All On The Board (@allontheboard) September 6, 2021
Winner of the original Popstars format Kym Marsh, said: “I’m so very sorry to hear of the passing of Sarah Harding. What a beautiful girl and person she really was.
Rest in peace, Sarah Harding. You’ll be remembered for the light and joy you brought to the world. X
— Geri Horner (@GeriHalliwell) September 5, 2021
“I don’t claim to have known her very well but what I did know was how fun and kind she really was. My thoughts are with her family and friends at this time. Sleep tight x”.