Sugar and spice

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - TV -

AT the height of their fame in the 1990s, the Spice Girls jug­ger­naut could close down in­ter­na­tional air­ports. Such was their pop­u­lar­ity that some­times, when they fl ew into a new city, the air­port would be closed down half an hour ei­ther side of their ar­rival in an ef­fort to con­trol crowds. But with global suc­cess came scru­tiny on a grand scale.

Ev­ery move, weight fluc­tu­a­tion, ro­mance, power strug­gle, diva an­tic and de­mand, real or imag­ined, ex­pe­ri­enced by Ginger ( Geri Hal­li­well), Posh ( Vic­to­ria Beck­ham), Scary ( Mel B), Sporty ( Mel C) and Baby ( Emma Bun­ton) was chron­i­cled mer­ci­lessly in the me­dia.

So you’re pre­pared for a lot of things for a fi rst in­ter­view with “Ginger Spice” Geri Hal­li­well, the Nine Net­work’s judg­ing re­cruit for re­vamped re­al­ity show Aus­tralia’s Got Tal­ent.

You’re ex­pect­ing a me­dia vet­eran, well- armed with pre­pared re­sponses to ques­tions about her part­ing ways with the band in 1998 cit­ing de­pres­sion and creative dif­fer­ences.

You’re pre­pared for a publi­cist cut­ting off any ques­tion about bu­limia, break- ups and blow- ups, a bulging se­cu­rity de­tail and a strict 10- minute sched­ule.

In­stead, a make- up free Hal­li­well, hair un­kempt, has es­chewed a restau­rant chat in favour of wel­com­ing you into her ho­tel room, cheer­fully apol­o­gis­ing she hasn’t had time to brush her teeth.

The diminu­tive star is fi ght­ing a se­vere bout of fl u, and wrap­ping up a fi tting ses­sion for her wardrobe for the AGT live shows, as daugh­ter Blue­bell, 7, gives her opin­ion on each outfi t and shows off her favourite youtube clip.

“Oh, hello, we’re a bit of a mess here this morn­ing,” Hal­li­well grins.

“I’m sorry I look like this … I’ve been sick all week. Swim­ming at Bal­moral in win­ter prob­a­bly didn’t help. But it’s Aus­tralia. There was sun­shine.”

Fit­tings over, Hal­li­well, 40, opts to sit next to you rather than across from you on the couch and of­fers gen­uine thanks to some­one of­fer­ing a much- needed cuppa.

This is Hal­li­well in 2013. Laid back, yet pro­fes­sional. No- non­sense, but not prickly.

And she’s loving the chance fel­low Spice Girl Mel B threw her way to come to Aus­tralia.

A con­tract dis­pute meant when the Nine Net­work bought the rights to AGT last year af­ter Seven dumped it, Mel B couldn’t take up judg­ing du­ties on the ri­val net­work.

In­stead, with the Spice Girls hav­ing kissed and made up since 1998, re­formed a cou­ple of times, and last year boarded a tidal wave of adu­la­tion and nos­tal­gia when they per­formed at the open­ing of the Lon­don Olympics, Mel B sug­gested Hal­li­well fi ll her spot.

Hal­li­well, who says she loves the for­mat in the UK, jumped at the chance.

“The sweet­est thing about the of­fer was that it came from Mel,” Hal­li­well said.

“This in­dus­try can be shal­low. It’s not the most spir­i­tual in­dus­try but she rang me and said ‘ I was plan­ning to do the show but I can’t and I think you should do it, in fact I’ve al­ready spo­ken to Nine and put in a good word’.

“And I was so touched that some­body, a friend, would stick her neck out. It made my heart smile.” Hal­li­well had a guest ap­pear­ance on the UK

X Fac­tor last year and, hav­ing man­aged bands post- Spice Girls, rel­ished the chance to again nur­ture tal­ent.

AGT has of­fered her an­other chance to do that, along­side fel­low judges Dawn French, Kyle Sandi­lands and Ti­mo­matic.

Hal­li­well’s forth­right style and will­ing­ness to “take the piss” fi t well with the AGT for­mat which cel­e­brates weird, wacky and odd­ball tal­ent as well as sheer bril­liance.

“It’s cel­e­bra­tory of peo­ple, which is why I’m proud to be a part of it,” she said.

“Au­di­tions have been like you’re go­ing to a party for the week­end, and on the Mon­day it’s like a hang­over, and you’ve had a re­ally good time.”

Amid the laughs though, Hal­li­well takes judg­ing du­ties se­ri­ously.

“At the end of the day, as much as you’re deal­ing with a TV show we’re talk­ing about peo­ple’s lives,” she said.

“We need to re­ally re­mem­ber that ev­ery time some­one comes on that stage and does their thing. We need to re­mem­ber it’s re­ally scary and vul­ner­a­ble, and takes a huge amount of courage.”

That said, Hal­li­well would have au­di­tioned for a sim­i­lar show to kick- start her ca­reer had it ex­isted pre- Spice Girls. “I was never trained in any­thing,” she said. “That th­ese shows give the op­por­tu­nity to the every­man is absolutely won­der­ful. It com­pletely pushes my but­tons.”

SPIC­ING THINGS UP: Geri Hal­li­well has joined the cast of Aus­tralia’s Got Tal­ent.

STAR SEARCH: Aus­tralia’s Got Tal­ent judge Geri Hal­li­well with, from left, Ti­mo­matic, Dawn French, host Ju­lia Mor­ris and Kyle Sandi­lands.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.