Happy Birthday Cheryl Cole

On 30 June, City Connect celebrates the birthday of Cheryl Cole (née Tweedy) who was born on this day in 1983. Having divorced from her husband Ashley Cole, the singer has decided to be professionally known as Cheryl. She’s had a rough ride in the last couple of years so we wish Cheryl all the best at 29 and hope she finds commercial and critical success with her new solo album A Million Lights which was released earlier this month.

Cheryl in L'Oréal Elnett Advert


Cheryl rose to fame in late 2002 when she auditioned for the reality television show Popstars: The Rivals on ITV. The programme announced that Cole had won a place as a member of the girl group, Girls Aloud. The group’s debut single “Sound of the Underground” peaked at number one on the UK Singles Chart, becoming the 2002 Christmas number one. Girls Aloud hold the record for the shortest time between formation and reaching number one.

Since 2003, Cheryl Cole has been part of Girls Aloud twenty consecutive top-ten singles, with all but one charting within the top ten, and 15 reaching top five positions in the UK. Their singles “I’ll Stand by You”, “Walk This Way”, and “The Promise” have charted at number one. All five of their studio albums have been certified platinum with their greatest hits album The Sound of Girls Aloud and 2008’s Out of Control, both of entering the UK Albums Chart at number one. Girls Aloud have earned five BRIT Award nominations from 2005 to 2010. In 2009, Girls Aloud won “Best British Single” at that year’s Brit Awards for “The Promise”.

Girls Aloud have become one of the few UK reality television acts to achieve continued success, and had amassed a fortune of £25 million by May 2009. The 2007 edition of Guinness World Records listed them as “Most Successful Reality TV Group”.

Cheryl began dating England and Chelsea footballer Ashley Cole in September 2004, announcing their engagement after he proposed in Dubai in June 2005 and the couple were married on 15 July 2006. The couple were hit with Kiss and Tell stories about Ashley’s infidelities but they reconciled and stayed together.

In June 2008, it was announced Cole would replace Sharon Osbourne as a judge for the fifth series of The X Factor alongside Dannii Minogue, Simon Cowell and Louis Walsh. Cole was given the girls category (made up of female contestants between 16 and 25) and subsequently ended up as the victorious judge when Alexandra Burke was crowned the fifth winner of The X Factor on 13 December 2008.

Cole returned for the sixth series of The X Factor in 2009 and was given the boys category (made up of male contestants aged 16 to 25). Cole emerged as the winning judge for a second consecutive year after Joe McElderry was crowned the sixth winner of The X Factor. Simon Cowell, the show’s creator, said, “I knew she was going to be good because she speaks like normal people speak. People can relate to that. And I think that is the best sign of a judge.” Cowell has referred to Cole as “one of the best I’ve ever worked with.”

In 2009, Girls Aloud announced their musical hiatus and Cheryl Cole went on to release two solo albums, which both went to number one in the UK: 3 Words (2009) and Messy Little Raindrops (2010). She achieved a number of hits, including two number one singles: “Fight for This Love” and “Promise This”.

In early February 2010, news broke that Cole’s husband had cheated on her with five more women. On 23 February, Cole announced she was separating from her husband and subsequently filed for divorce at London’s High Court citing “unreasonable behaviour” of estranged husband Ashley as the reason for their break-up. She was granted a decree nisi on 3 September 2010.

On 3 July 2010, Cole was admitted to hospital with suspected acute malaria after a visit to Tanzania.

Cole returned for the seventh series of The X Factor in 2010 to mentor the girls category once again. In this series, Cole faced intense scrutiny from the public and the media after she rejected popular contestant Gamu Nhengu to go through to the live shows in favour of Cher Lloyd and Katie Waissel, even though both had fluffed their performances at judges’ houses. Cole also receive more criticism after she refused to vote for an act in the fifth week, which resulted in claims that the show was fixed. This series would also mark the first that Cole was not the winning mentor, after a contestant in her category, Rebecca Ferguson, lost out to Matt Cardle, who was mentored by Dannii Minogue.

On 5 May 2011, it was officially announced after months of speculation that Cole would appear as a judge alongside Simon Cowell, L.A. Reid, and Paula Abdul on the American version of The X Factor. However, after only three weeks as a judge and completing the auditions in Los Angeles and Chicago, Cole departed the show following rumours she had been sacked.

Cole is set to release her third solo album A Million Lights on the 18 June 2012, with lead single “Call My Name” released on May 18, 2012. The single was written and produced by Calvin Harris and the music video for the single was directed by Anthony Mandler and shot in Downtown Los Angeles.

Cole has become a recognised and photographed style icon; referred to as a fashionista by the press. She has been photographed for the covers of British Vogue, Elle and Harper’s Bazaar, while also becoming the new face of cosmetic company L’Oréal in late 2009. However, her recent advertising campaign promoting the L’Oréal Elvive shampoo and conditioner range attracted criticism amid claims that she had deliberately deceived persons wishing to buy the product, since it shows Cole with hair extensions.

Cheryl has been involved in a number of charitable activities. Most notable were in March 2009 when she climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in aid of Comic Relief with a group of other celebrities. The trek raised £3.4 million for the charity. Between 3 February and 23 March 2009, Cole raised money for Comic Relief by providing the voice for the BT Speaking Clock. In February 2011, Cole launched her own charitable foundation with The Prince’s Trust following a meeting with The Trust’s President, HRH Charles, Prince of Wales. The Cheryl Cole Foundation will provide vital funds for The Trust in the North East, helping disadvantaged young people from Cole’s region. On 13 June 2011, she auctioned 20 dresses with ASOS to raise funds for the foundation.

Images reproduced from fanpop.com and brandrepublic.com
Videos reproduced from YouTube / helpingyousave and YouTube / CherylColeVEVO

Biography text reproduced from Wikipedia under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License

Happy Birthday Joe McElderry

On 16 June, City Connect celebrates the birthday of Joe McElderry born on this day in 1991. Joe McElderry won the sixth series of the ITV show The X Factor in 2009. His first single “The Climb” reached number one on the UK Singles Chart and Irish Singles Charts. Joe McElderry was also crowned the winner of the second series of Popstar to Operastar, two years later in 2011. To date he has released three albums – two of them reaching the UK top three. He is currently working on his fourth studio album. On 30 July 2010, Joe McElderry announced on his official website that he is gay. The gay charity Stonewall has listed McElderry as a gay role model.

Joe McElderry


Joe McElderry won The X Factor in 2009, mentored by Cheryl Cole, beating runner up Olly Murs with his version of Miley Cyrus’s “The Climb”. He signed a recording contract with Simon Cowell’s Syco record label, whose parent company is Sony Music Entertainment. Joe McElderry’s debut single, “The Climb”, was released in December 2009 and had the fifth highest sales of all UK singles released in 2009 staying one week at number 1. It was also the top selling Irish single of 2009 where it remained at the top spot for four consecutive weeks.

In 2010, Joe McElderry recorded his debut album Wide Awake. The first single released from Wide Awake was “Ambitions”, a cover of a song by Norwegian band Donkeyboy. The song debuted at #6 on the UK Singles Chart and #4 on the Irish Chart. Wide Awake debuted at number 3 on the UK Albums Chart but fell to number 20 the following week, and to number 40 the week after that. “Someone Wake Me Up” was the second single taken from the album and it debuted and peaked at number 68 on the UK Singles Chart.

Joe McElderry was approached by Twentieth Century Fox to record the specially written track, “There’s A Place For Us”, written by American songstress Carrie Underwood, which features in the soundtrack to The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and was also the B-side to “Someone Wake Me Up”. The song was nominated for a Golden Globe Award in 2011 for Best Original Song – Motion Picture.

After “Someone Wake Me Up,” Joe McElderry released no further singles or albums with Syco. On 15 April 2011, it was reported in the media that his contract with Syco would not be renewed. Joe McElderry has stated that his split with Syco was amicable.

In 2011, Joe McElderry appeared as a contestant on the second series of ITV’s Popstar to Operastar and won the show on 10 July 2011. After the show it was revealed that, in all of the episodes in which he competed, McElderry received more votes than all of the other contestants combined. He defeated Cheryl Baker in the final with 77.1% of the public vote.

He signed a new recording contract with Decca Records and his second studio album, Classic, was released in August 2011 and debuted on the official UK top 40 albums chart at number 2. The album was certified gold, within 10 days after the release.

Joe McElderry took part in the Great North Run half marathon on 19 September 2010 raising money for Teenage Cancer Trust, which he is also an ambassador for. He ran the Great North Run again in 2011, once again supporting the Teenage Cancer Trust, finishing in 1 hour and 42 minutes. Also in 2011, Joe McElderry was put up for auction on the shopping channel QVC in aid of Breast Cancer Care and eventually sold for £6,350. The top bidder received a unique concert from Joe in her living room.

Joe McElderry embarked on his debut solo tour, Classic Tour in November 2011 and released a Christmas album titled Classic Christmas later that month. The album debuted at number 15 on the UK Albums Chart. On 8 December, he performed at Durham Cathedral to an audience of 1,500, singing, “In the Bleak Midwinter” and “A Winter’s Tale”.

Joe McElderry started recording his fourth album in February 2012. It is due for release in September 2012 and is set to include collaborations with Marcella Detroit and Ludovico Einaudi.

On 3 June 2012, he performed at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Water Pageant, he sang for guests on board a Dunkirk ship, The Viscount.

Images reproduced from entertainment.stv.tv
Video reproduced from YouTube / JoeMcElderryVEVO, YouTube / 12345djbridger and YouTube / JoeMcElderryClassic

Biography text reproduced from Wikipedia under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License

Speidi vs. Relationship Norms

What is it about this celebrity couple which has got everyone talking?  Are they playing a game with Big Brother? Are they playing a character for the show?  Or is this how they really are with each other?  Whatever it is that they are doing it at has got the nation talking.  Both Heidi and Spencer have a very interesting relationship.  The two of them are completely co-dependent on each other.  They are never more than 2 feet apart from each other, they go to the kitchen together, to the sofa together and even to the bathroom (one waits outside while the other one pee’s) and they will always, always agree with the other one.  The relationship is like they are two bodies but one thought.  It appears to be that the reason that they never argue with each other is because they project their negativity and sensitivity onto the people around them.  Instead of disagreeing or arguing with one another they will untie and project the row onto someone else in the house.  As I can only imagine is what they do when they are in the ‘real world’.  I use the term loosely as they are reality start after all.

What does it mean to be that united with your partner, to the extremity that your relationship is possibly unhealthy and obsessive?  I believe that it can be very easy at the beginning of a relationship to get wrapped up in each other and forget there is anyone else around you.  Wrapped up in your sex, cuddling and take away bubble.   Where the bedroom has now become your bedroom, kitchen and TV room.  This bubble is ok for a few months, maybe a year at a push but then it’s time to start letting the real world back in.  With friends you haven’t seen and places you forgot existed because you’ve been so wrapped up in your dream boat bubble.  Eventually most people come out of the bubble and join the real world again.

What happens when some people don’t come out of the cocoon they have built for themselves?

When Speidi, I mean Heidi proceeded to explain to the other housemates how much she loved Spencer it was very strange.  She was very overtly passionate about it, almost in tears saying he is the air she breathes and the voice in her song and all these other poetic lines she had managed to concoct.  Me and my partner where lying on the sofa together watching this, looking in complete bewilderment at each other.  It’s like yeah I love you babe, but not like that, not in a weird obsessive, umbilical cord kind of way.  Just in a normal want to share my life with you kind of way.  I think that is the different I want my boyfriend to share my life with me, that means share my family and friends.  Not BE my family and friends.

When relationships become so intertwined like that, with that kind of co-dependency it fascinates me how one will cope if the other one is not there.  If one of them was to leave the other one or one of them dies!

When people become so wrapped up in each other it always fascinates me about what will happen if the other one has had enough.  If one of them breaks up with the other on or if someone dies.  How would they cope, spending years not making a decision or barely having a thought process of their own I would imagine lead to a major breakdown Charlie Sheen style (minus the 7 gram rocks).

The flip-side of this relationship madness is that they are both incredibly in love with each other.  If it wasn’t for all the bitching and sniping behind the other housemates backs then Heidi and Spencer could really be a sweet couple.  Not a couple I’d like to hang out with.  It would just be a constant battle to make sure we were as in love with each other as they are.  Reciting Shakes sphere over our special fried rice.  If there was no one else around they would probably prefer it like that.  They had made little effort with the housemates and seemed to like it like that.  They have each other’s backs, most probably even if they secretly don’t agree with each other on things.   The two of them are happy just in each other’s company and nobody else’s.  Personally my boyfriend and I wouldn’t last 5 minutes if there was an apocalypse and we were the only remaining survivors.  No alcohol, no cigarettes and no Papa Johns.  The bubbles burst and yes John Lennon you do need more than love I’m afraid.

Just don’t tell Speidi that.

I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here 2011 – The Line-Up

So the line-up has been revealed for ITV’s C-List celebrity vehicle – I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here 2011. The “celebrities” – note the speech marks as I use the term loosely – will be all clamouring for air time and column inches now that the show has hit our screens once again.

Amongst the has-beens and “rising” stars who will be braving the creepy crawlies in the jungle are TOWIE’s Mark Wright (24) – who has perhaps taken extreme lengths to avoid his turmultuous Essex love life by travelling to the other side of the world! 

Fighting Mark for the title of Jungle Stud is Mcfly bass player Dougie Poynter (23) who is sure to have the girls swooning during those shirtless scenes that are bound to happen over the coming weeks.

Coronation Street’s happy chappy Anthony Cotton (36) will also be on the show and will have to face his fears of flying, heights, claustrophobia and arguments. Cotton also has said he has a mild form of OCD. Thankfully for him, ITV bosses have ensured he has had hypnotherapy as part of his preparation to go to the jungle.

Joining funny man Cotton will be not-so-funny man Freddie Starr (don’t mention hamsters!). Starr (68) has no qualms admitting his real reason to be on the show… he admits he’s there to get his profile up. It will be interesting to see what antics Freddie Starr gets up to during his stint in the Australian jungle as he’s known for his “quirky” behaviour on and off screen.

Horse racing legend, Willie Carson OBE is the final chap making his debut on I’m A Celebrity. Although he’s the same age as Freddie Starr, Carson says that his reasons for being on the show are very different – he wants to enjoy the experience and also impress his grandchildren who are massive fans of the show.

And so on to the female “celebrities” of the show…

This year’s obligatory Jungle Babe is Jessica-Jane Clement (26) who some of you may have seen in The Real Hustle. Jessica-Jane also has worked as a glamour model and has appeared in Playboy. Unfortunately for Jungle Lothario Mark, Jessica-Jane has recently become engaged so there be no hanky panky in the hammocks. Shame!

Adding some impressive muscle to the proceedings is world champion javelin thrower Fatima Whitbread MBE. Fatima (50) says that as well as being competitive, she is also looking forward to the bushtucker trials. Really?! I know that I’d not be relishing the opportunity to chew on a certain part of a kangaroo’s anatomy!

Joining Fatima and Jessica-Jane in the jungle is 53-year old Benidorm actress Crissy Rock. It has been revealed that Crissy is no stranger to sleeping rough as she has been homeless before in her life. They say that this revealation means she has a better chance of lasting the distance during her time in the no-frills camp.

The fourth woman to swing into the jungle will be Lorraine Chase, the 60-year old model and actress who rose to fame as the star of the Campari adverts during the 70s. Since then she has also appeared in Emmerdale swapping cocktails for the countryside. Lorraine sees the show as a test of her bravery and says it will challenge her to stretch herself and get braver.

Finally, American actress Stefanie Powers will star in the show and is doing it for all the right reasons. The 69-year old was diagnosed with lung cancer two years ago and wants to show people that it is possible to beat the disease and prove there is life after cancer. The star of Hart To Hart says that having survived cancer she is now going to try and survive I’m a Celebrity.

I wish Stefanie and the other contestants all the best and look forward to watching their trials and tribulations over the coming weeks. Who is your favourite to win?

Images reproduced from heatworld.com

Aaron Allard Wins Big Brother 2011

After nine weeks of watching the antics unfold in the Big Brother 2011 house, Friday saw the Big Brother finale with the four remaining housemates up for the title of Big Brother winner of 2011. Alex Rose Lee, Louise Cliffe, Jay McKray and Aaron Allard had all made it to Day 64 and now it was time for the final evictions from the Big Brother house.

Louise Cliffe was the first to be evicted. She wore a beautiful ruffled dress with sequinned corset and sported her new fringe haircut. During her interview with Brian Dowling, Louise spoke of her relationship with Jay, saying: “‘Nine weeks equals ten years in here. Jay is just so normal and he reminds me of the people I know back home.” She added enthusiatically, “I love him to bits I do, I do, I do.”

Louise Cliffe - the model housemate?

Alex Rose Lee, the last remaining female housemate, was the next to leave the Big Brother house. The fast food worker and ex air hostess was dressed in a short figure-hugging dress in her signature pink colour and it was no surprise that she was wearing her new Jimmy Choo shoes given to her as a birthday present from Jay & Louise. Alex had avoided the public vote every single week of the competition. Speaking to Brian, she said that being herself was what she thhinks got her through the show.

Alex left the house dressed in pink - no surprises there then!

The time had come for the winner of Big Brother 2011 to be announced. As Brian Dowling revealed it was Aaron Allard, the crowd erupted into a chorus of boos. Jay McKray was therefore in second place and exited the Big Brother house fighting back tears. He was always popular with the public having been saved from eviction in previous weeks. Jay confessed in his interview that he was in love with Louise and that she had kept him sane during the hard times he experienced in the Big Brother house. He went on to say that the hardest moment in the show was when there was only bananas to eat thanks to Harry’s food shopping prank and Jay said that he “will never eat a banana again.”

Jay McKray came second in the competition

And so it was time for Aaron Allard to leave the Big Brother house as the 2011 winner of the fly-on-the-wall reality TV show. Aaron had been up for eviction four times during Big Brother 2011 and had been saved by the public each time. It was thus a big surprise and a first in the history of Big Brother that on leaving the Big Brother house Aaron was welcomed by boos from the crowds outside rather than cheers. During his interview with Brian, he said that he had found the last 7 days difficult as he had missed Faye. He went on to say that he definitely wanted them to be a couple and that he “really liked her”. Aaron also said that he couldn’t understand why people had booed him.

Aaron Allard - the winner of Big Brother 2011

Perhaps it was his sulking that the crowds didn’t like? Or the on-off-on relationship he had with Faye Palmer? Or maybe it was just that this 30-something contract manager was more thoughtful and mature than the other housemates making him look patronising? Whatever the reasons behind the boos, Aaron Allard survived the nine weeks of scrutiny by the Big Brother cameras and some may say he also managed to survive the editing of the show where 24 hours is reduced to a few snippets of “good television”. Below are Aaron’s best bits from the show… enjoy!