Bring it all back
PUBLISHED: 05:57 06 April 2015
Copyright (c) 2014 Rex Features. No use without permission.
At just 18, she was thrust into the spotlight as a television and pop star adored by millions of young fans. Now, aged 33, Hannah Spearritt is heading back out on tour with S Club 7 this spring for the first time in more than a decade.
Since the band split in 2003, the Gorleston-born performer has carved out a successful acting career on both the stage and screen. But after reuniting for a performance on BBC’s Children In Need, Hannah and her six band members are rehearsing for a national arena tour in May and she is busy relearning the old routines.
“I’m in the gym everyday and polishing the chrome of the Zimmer frame of course,” she laughs. “So I can miserably fail in re-discovering my youth.”
Although she has remained in touch with the others in S Club 7, November’s Children In Need show was the first time they had all been back together.
“It feels different in some ways from before but also quite familiar at the same time. I can’t wait to enjoy putting people through some S Club agony once again. Apart from the visually obvious signs of age I hope we’ve all matured somewhat, which I’m sure we’ll find out after we’ve spent some more quality tour bus time together.”
At the height of S Club 7’s fame, Hannah, Rachel Stevens, Jo O’Meara, Tina Barrett, Paul Cattermole, Bradley McIntosh and Jon Lee had their own BBC series, four number one singles and sold 10 million albums worldwide. They also won two Brit Awards.
Hannah, who was a pupil at Lynn Grove High School and student at East Norfolk Sixth Form College in Gorleston, is the youngest of three. Her sister Tanya was a model and fashion designer. Hannah began her stage career aged 12 with a part in a production of Annie at Lowestoft’s Marina Theatre.
“I started dancing first with June Glennie in Lowestoft, and then began acting and singing with the Lowestoft Players. I guess they were the natural progressions for me as a budding little drama queen.”
After winning a place at the National Youth Music Theatre, she honed her acting skills with roles in Pendragon, Tin Pan Ali and in 1997 was in the West End musical Bugsy Malone. But after auditioning for a new pop group that was being put together by former Spice Girls’ manager Simon Fuller, her career took a very different turn and she was launched into the public eye.
“I was young but not stupid,” she says. “But maybe I was not as wise or street smart as I could have been. The fame and being thrown into this celebrity world forced me to grow up fast.”
Following the split of S Club 7 in 2003, she returned to acting, with film and TV roles and numerous stage performances, including in the acclaimed One Man, Two Guvnors in the West End. But it was her role as reptile enthusiast Abby Maitland in ITV series Primeval that saw her win a legion of new fans. It became a cult show and Hannah delights followers when she appears at Comic Con events.
“It was a great series and the fans and following which has lived on has been very heart-warming. Amazingly, even now, they still welcome me at every Comic Con. On top of that, each time I go I’m provided with an outstanding collection of Star Wars and sci-fi selfies.”
Hannah now lives in London, but having grown up so close to the sea, she still likes to come home to the county to relax and see family and friends.
“Norfolk is a beautiful place and I love the seaside. I had a great childhood but I prefer the hustle and bustle of a major city. Sometimes though it’s nice to come home and unwind, away from it all.”
Last year she returned for a role in British film The Goob, directed by Guy Myhill, which was set in fenland Norfolk. The film premiered to good reviews at the Venice Film Festival last year.
“We shot my parts of the film in a cafe in the middle of nowhere; it was cold but good fun,” Hannah particularly remembers the audition: “Guy was very relaxed and I was terribly late, which I felt awful about; it was one of those mornings. We did some circumstantial improvisation and then proceeded to the next room to dance to electro beats and they filmed it. I wouldn’t mind digging out that one!”