I was only 25 when doctors told me that I might never have a baby
Emma Bunton opens up to Louise Gannon about the proudest achievement of her life – and how she’s finally got engaged to her partner of 15 years
E mma Bunton made ‘girl power’ one of the most ubiquitous phrases of the 1990s, alongside her Spice counterparts Mel B (Scary), Mel C (Sporty), Geri Halliwell (Ginger) and the erstwhile Victoria Adams ( Posh). Now aged 37, ‘Baby Spice’ Emma is all grown up, with two sons, Beau, five, and Tate, two, by her long-term partner, Jade Jones — the former lead singer of 1990s boyband Damage. She is moving from pop into television presenting with a new programme, Your Face Sounds Familiar, coming to ITV this summer.
What is your earliest memory? I have an incredibly precise and clear memory of sitting in my pushchair as a very small child and being caught in the rain. People don’t believe me when I talk about this because I must have been a baby at the time. But I do have the most vivid recollection of my mum strapping on the clear plastic rain cover and then running as fast as she could into the nearest shelter. What I remember most about this is that I felt incredibly safe, warm and cosy with the sound of the rain on the plastic. Even now I can think right back to that moment.
What sort of child were you? I was very shy. I absolutely loved singing and making up dance routines, but I’d never perform in front of other people. I’d go up to my bedroom, shut the door and do it all behind closed doors. I’d study shows like Top Of The Pops and then copy the routines. I was obsessed with Bananarama and I’d pretend to be a radio host putting on their songs.
When did you last feel really happy? There is a difference between happy and being utterly euphoric, something which has happened to me twice in my life, both times just after I have given birth. I honestly felt crazily, heart-meltingly happy. You get a massive rush from being on a stage, singing in front of thousands of people and it is the most incredible feeling. It is a form of happiness but it’s mixed with nerves, adrenaline and excitement. But the feeling I had at the birth of my sons was pure and absolute joy.
What has been your greatest achievement? When I was 25, I was told by a doctor that I had just a 50/50 chance of having children because I had endometriosis. It was devastat- ing. There was a big part of me that thought it was never going to happen. So my two boys are definitely my biggest achievement.
… and your biggest disappointment? Not getting the part of Bianca [which was famously played by Patsy Palmer] in EastEnders. When I was 17 I was up for the part: I loved the show and thought it was perfect for me. I got right down to the final auditions and then got rejected. It was really upsetting, but I learned a very important life lesson being at stage school — you don’t get everything in life you want, but sometimes it’s for a reason; the very next week after failing that audition I met the guys who put together the Spice Girls...
What is your best character trait? I’m extremely loyal. Not just with friends — who I would do anything for — but also at work: I’ll do everything humanly possible to make something good. I stick with people and I stick with things. Everything I commit to, I see through to the end. … Impatience and what — is your I can worst put up character with faults flaw? in other people but not in myself.
Who is the love of your life? Jade. We have been together 15 years. He’s my best friend, I still really fancy him and he’s the most incredible father to our boys. We’re finally engaged — but we still haven’t made any plans for an actual wedding! What advice would you give your younger self?
Stop worrying so much. Even when I was in the band I’d be worrying that my mum and dad were okay. I worry about getting things right and just so many little things. Worrying can take over.
Who would be your dream dinner date? I had it last week when I went out for a meal with Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders. I’ve worked quite a bit with Jennifer on Absolutely Fabulous and the Spice Girls musical. It was as hilarious as you’d imagine. If I could, though, I’d have added Elvis Presley and Prince Harry. I think Harry might have sat on my knee when he was a little boy and I was in the Spice Girls.
When did you last cry? I cry a lot: films, ads, people telling a sad story. I’ve got more emotional as I’ve got older.
What would you say you are you best at?
Organising really good parties.
What would you like to be better at? Sport. I’d like to be able to run with Mel C without falling down gasping for breath. I’d just like to be able to keep up with her, but I don’t think it’s ever going to happen.
What is your favourite word? Pogonophobia. It means fear of beards and I don’t suffer from it; I just love the word.
What was the last book you read? Fifty Shades Of Grey. I was very late on the trend but I was disappointed — I didn’t think it actually lived up to all the hype... Emma will be a judge, alongside Julian Clary, on Your Face Sounds Familiar, a new series coming to ITV this summer in which celebrities impersonate music icons past and present