Episode 4 Sarah Harding

First shown on Monday 19th September 2016 8pm ITV1
Also shown Thursday 16th March 2017 4.30pm ITV1

Sarah at home today in Buckinghamshire

Famous faces revisit their former homes to share memories and secrets from when they lived there. Singer and actress Sarah Harding revisits the apartments where Girls Aloud lived after their first number one success and reveals why the bathroom at her childhood home was where her dreams of stardom began.

Sarah Harding was born in 1981 and was brought up in Wraysbury, a small village outside Slough on the Heathrow flight path. This childhood home is the first visit on Sarah’s journey through her property ladder.

Even as she arrives outside the home where she grew up, she is overcome with emotion at the memory of her happy childhood. Sarah recounts how she was a bit of a ‘tom-boy’ and loved climbing trees. She even tried to ‘escape’ from her bedroom once when she’d been sent there for being naughty.  She climbed out of the window by knotting her clothes together. When the makeshift ‘rope’ snapped she dropped the remaining few feet onto the patio. Luckily she was unhurt!

Sarah revisits her childhood home in Wraysbury in Berkshire

Even as a young girl she says she loved to ‘put on a show’ for anyone who’d watch. She even remembers having a ‘set list’ of songs she sang in the shower – which included Sheryl Crow’s ‘All I Wanna Do’. She asked her dad ‘is this how you get famous by singing in the shower?’ Her dad and brother were both musical, and as a small girl she had her own guitar and tiny amp. She bids her childhood home goodbye with fond tears – because she says ‘part of me still is that little girl’.

When Sarah was 14 her parents separated and she went to live with her mum in Manchester. It was while she was here she did her singing ‘apprenticeship’ doing gigs at caravan parks and social clubs in North Wales. It was also while she lived in Manchester she attended the audition that gave her the fame she wanted so badly.

Sarah’s next revisit is to the apartments the record company rented for Girls Aloud just after their first single ‘Sound of The Underground’ went to number one for Christmas 2002. The audition that changed Sarah’s life was for one of the earliest reality TV talent shows, ‘Pop Stars - The Rivals’. Viewers voted to select the members of a boy band and a girl band who would compete for the Christmas number one slot. Sarah’s audition in Manchester won her a place in the show and after 8 weeks of judges and viewer’s votes she was the final member of the new group Girls Aloud as announced by the show’s host Davina McCall.

At these apartments in North London Sarah remembers the other band members were terrible pranksters, and one weekend they even phoned her to tell her that her apartment had burned down – and after she burst into tears they all ‘started cackling’ down the phone. The converted former Victorian hospital was originally named Hatch Lunatic Asylum and was the biggest psychiatric hospital in Europe. The girls renamed it Pop Star Heights because of the other bands including Busted and N-Dubz who were living there too.

The first flat Sarah bought, Kentish Town, London

When Girls Aloud’s success continued Sarah was able to buy her first flat in Kentish Town, north London. Perhaps influenced by the converted hospital she’d moved from, this flat was part of a converted Victorian school. She remembers gutting the flat and remodelling it – discovering in the process that property ownership isn’t all plain sailing. Sometimes the building work was so noisy she used to ‘grab my duvet and go and sleep in the car’.

The next property she visits is a flat she rented in Hampstead when Girls Aloud were rehearsing for their third national tour in 2007. She loved living in Hampstead, but there was a big catch. She describes being followed by paparazzi every time she left the front door – even when she popped out to buy milk. Girls Aloud were at the height of their success when she lived here – and won a Brit Award for their single ‘The Promise’. Even Sarah’s dogs were targeted by the paparazzi.

It was the unwelcome attention of photographers that led to Sarah’s next house move – to her current home in Buckinghamshire. She figured the paparazzi wouldn’t travel that far outside London to get a snap of her nipping out for milk.

Since Girls Aloud split in 2012 Sarah has turned to acting. She appeared in the feature film St Trinian’s 2, the BBC TV movie Freefall and Coronation Street. She says she dreams of being a Bond girl. She still lives in Buckinghamshire today surrounded by her 3 dogs, 2 cats, her decks and her instruments. Although she has pop memorabilia on display, her house is surprisingly homely - her prized Aga is the centre of the kitchen. Of life now she says ‘the only thing I love and that I do take to heart is what I love doing, and that’s my music’.

Celebrity Home Secrets: A So Television / Sunnyside Productions Co-production 
Executive Producers: Graham Stuart, Andrea Miller, Jerry Foulkes
Directed and filmed by: Rebekah Levine