Sarah Harding


One-fifth of pop music behemoths Girls Aloud, Sarah Harding has died aged only 39 after a publicised battle with Stage IV cancer. Harding worked as a BT phone operator and a Pizza Hut waitress before successfully auditioning for Popstars: The Rivals, a Pete Waterman bid to find a new manufactured pop success for the new century. From hundreds of applicants, they would create a boy band and a girl band of 5 members each, and they’d fight for the crown. Sarah Harding was the oldest of the five women who qualified.

(Incidentally, if you ever wonder the quirks of fate that make up such shows, Nicola Roberts, widely regarded as the best singer in the band, made it to the finals as an alternate, after the first choice pulled out!)

The final decision was that of the listening public, who decided which final song they preferred: Sound of the Underground by Girls Aloud, or Sacred Trust by One True Voice, the boyband. I wont keep you in suspense here, as you’ve never heard of One True Voice if you weren’t born in the UK, whereas Sound of the Underground is regarded as a proper modern pop classic. Girls Aloud absolutely trounced the boys, not only selling over 100, 000 more singles, but having a 4 week run at the top of the charts, and gaining the Christmas number one for 2002.

And once they won the publics affection, they weren’t to lose it in the next decade, with four UK number one hits and TWENTY ONE UK top 10 singles. There was a simple reason for their success – they were bloody good. Songs like Biology, No Good Advice and Love Machine are simple and catchy, and well sung. They were the band every rock fan in the UK thought they were a secret fan of. The band even those disparaging of manufactured pop would discount as “obviously we don’t mean Girls Aloud”.

Sarah Harding was an important part of the group, her soaring voice holding the anchor in the songs. Off stage she was inspired by the Gallagher brothers and tried to present herself as a rebel, but when the band split up, she suffered from addiction demons. Publicised run ins with the law followed, as she struggled to deal with mental health issues. Preferring acting, she spent most of the last decade working out what she wanted to do with her life – she acted, she wrote songs, she learned gymnastics, and became increasingly more in demand for TV appearances for her madcap but witty commentary. Harding had gone teetotal and agreed to a 20th anniversary comeback with Girls Aloud for 2022, when suddenly she was diagnosed with late stage cancer.

Recent documentary evidence has come to light to tell us that before she became part of one of the most successful pop acts of the 21st Century, she worked briefly as a palaeontologist on Isla Sorna, just off the coast of Costa Rica. Despite the bands success, no interview was ever allowed to ask her about the infamous San Diego incident in 1997, when a large predator escaped off a cargo ship and caused a number of fatalities. Indeed when we asked Dr Ian Malcolm for comment he just shrugged and said “Can’t Speak French!”

So if interviews didn’t bring that up, you can imagine they didn’t touch on her family association with 90s Prime Minister Francis Urquhart either.

Sarah Harding was picked by 95 teams. This includes joker hits for Dropping Aitches, Ethnic Cleansing, Statik Charge and Sing Your Last Song for Me. 2021 title contenders Salmon Mousse, Haben die Spaten and En Passant all had her, as did regulars eejit, Still Life and Poochie. Better Off Dead got their first hit of the year. Chemo Sabee, Madonna’s Hand of Bod and I’m Sorry for your Trouble all scored rare hits in what has been disappointing DDP seasons for those teams by their usual high standards. The long hot summer was however too much for David Quantick’s Showbiz Pals, who didn’t See The Day, Called the (wrong) Shots, and omitted Ms Harding, and as a result the drive for five is on life support for this year at least.

Sarah Harding
17 November 1981 – 5 September 2021
95 teams