Girls Aloud’s Sarah Harding: from talent contest contestant to pop royalty

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Sarah Harding has become a household name as part of Girls Aloud, but has seen success beyond pop as an actress and model.

The singer, who died aged 39 after being diagnosed with breast cancer, rose to fame almost two decades ago when she beat several thousand other contestants to earn a spot in Popstars: The ITV rivals.

It was on this show that she met her bandmates Cheryl, Nadine Coyle, Nicola Roberts and Kimberley Walsh and launched Girls Aloud, with four number one singles and two number one albums, with tracks including Sound Of The Underground, Love Machine and The Promesse.

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Sarah Harding won the Celebrity Big Brother Award in 2017 (Ian West / PA)

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Sarah Harding won the Celebrity Big Brother Award in 2017 (Ian West / PA)

After revealing her breast cancer diagnosis in August 2020, Harding kept in touch with her fans on social media, writing a memoir and sharing an unreleased 10-year track to raise money for the foundation where she was receiving treatment.

Harding, born in Ascot, Berkshire, rose to fame in 2002 when he appeared in Popstars: The Rivals.

Girls Aloud was created in the series, and the group won Christmas number one that year with their debut single Sound Of The Underground.

The group went on to release five studio albums, two of which were top of the Official Charts Company charts.

In addition to his pop success, Harding has enjoyed a varied career in film and television.

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Dominic Cooper as Dave and Sarah Harding as Sam in Freefall (Nick Wall / PA)


Dominic Cooper as Dave and Sarah Harding as Sam in Freefall (Nick Wall / PA)

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Dominic Cooper as Dave and Sarah Harding as Sam in Freefall (Nick Wall / PA)

Some of his early credits include roles in the St Trinian films and the BBC drama Freefall, opposite Dominic Cooper.

She also made an appearance on Coronation Street as Joni in 2015 and was later invited to appear again in other episodes of the ITV soap opera.

In 2016, Harding made his stage debut in Ghost – The Musical at the New Wimbledon Theater in southwest London.

That same year, she was forced to retire from the Channel 4 reality show The Jump after breaking a ligament.

She becomes the sixth celebrity to leave the series following an injury.

In 2017, Harding competed in Celebrity Big Brother and was crowned the winner.

She narrowly beat singer Amelia Lily, with Made In Chelsea’s Sam Thompson in third.

Harding formed a relationship with compatriot Chad Johnson, but they reportedly split soon after the show ended.

She was previously engaged to DJ Tom Crane and they announced the end of their four-year relationship in 2011.

Harding entered rehab shortly after their separation and then openly discussed his struggle with alcohol.

She revealed in August 2020 that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer, which had spread to other parts of her body.

On September 5, her mother Marie announced her death on Instagram and described her “beautiful” daughter as “a shining star”.


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