Cheryl Fernandez-Versini

How did this Geordie lass go from a reality TV star to the nation's princess? This biography will look at how Cheryl Fernandez-Versini made a name for herself.


Cheryl Cole's life changed forever on 30 November 2002 when Davina McCall revealed that Cheryl was the first member of new band Girls Aloud live on national TV. This was the start of her pop, dancing, modeling and TV career, which has made her the nation's sweetheart. But where did it all start?

Cheryl Ann Tweedy was born in Newcastle upon Tyne on 30 June 1983 and is the fourth of the five children of Joan Callaghan. Cheryl's father Garry was Joan's second partner and they were together for more than a decade but never married. They split up when Cheryl was 11-years-old.

She grew up on council estates in the districts of Walker and later neighbouring Heaton, proving that her story is one of rags to riches. Cheryl's first foray into showbusiness occurred in 1990 when she appeared in a TV advert for British Gas.

Cheryl started dancing at the age of four years when she took sequence lessons and when she was nine-years-old she attended the Royal Ballet's summer school. During her childhood, she also won a number of modeling competitions including Boot's Group Bonniest Baby, The Evening Chronicles Little Miss and Mister and Most Attractive Girl at the Metrocentre. After that she appeared in a second advert for British Gas and an Eldon Square Christmas ad. She went to Walker Comprehensive School in Newcastle from 1994 to 1999 and left at age 16 years with few qualifications.

She had also been suspended twice for fighting with another pupil and for swearing on a bus respectively. When she left school, she worked as a waitress until the life-changing Popstars: The Rivals came along.

Cheryl auditioned for the Simon Cowell-headed show with the song Have You Ever. After several people applied and were put through rigorous singing competitions, five boys and five girls were chosen by the public to form two bands that would, in effect, be rivals.

The show's presenter McCall called Cheryl's name first and went on to reveal that Nadine Coyle, Sarah Harding, Kimberly Walsh and Nicola Walsh, would be joining her in Girls Aloud. Their first single Sound Of The Underground was released shortly after and went straight in at number one claiming the 2002 Christmas number one. The band hold the record for the shortest time between formation and reaching top of the charts.


In May 2003, their debut album Sound of the Underground was released and went to number two on the charts. It later went platinum. The group went on to have 20 consecutive UK top ten singles, including four number ones, four number twos and 15 top five singles. They have also had two number one albums and been nominated for five Brit awards winning Best Single in 2009 with The Promise. While the girls have gone on to pursue separate careers, they have never officially broken up.

Cheryl made the headlines for her personal life starting on 11 January 2001 when she was involved in an altercation with a nightclub toilet attendant. She was charged with assault and subsequently found guilty. Cheryl was sentenced to 120 hours of community service and ordered to pay £500 compensation to her victim.

She then embarked on her most prominent relationship so far when she began dating England and Chelsea footballer Ashley Cole in September 2004. They announced their engagement in June 2005 and married on 15 July 2006 selling their wedding photos to OK magazine in a £1 million deal.

While her career with Girls Aloud went from strength to strength her marriage started to fall apart. In January 2008, hairdresser Amy Walton told the Sun she had had sexual relations with Ashley Cole, which was followed by more cheating claims. Despite this the couple reconciled for the time being.

2008 also saw Cole branch out on her own away from her girl group when she provided vocals on the Will.i.am track Heartbreaker. She was originally hired to dance in the video but the Black-Eyed Peas frontman asked her to sing. Cole then won the biggest gig of her life – judging the X-Factor.

In June 2008, it was revealed that Cole would replace Sharon Osbourne as a judge on the talent show and would work alongside Dannii Minogue, Louis Walsh and Simon Cowell. She was chosen to mentor the girls category and led Alexandra Burke to victory. She returned in 2009 for the sixth season of the show and emerged the victorious judge once again when Joe McElderry came first.


Cole then went on to work on solo material in April 2009 with her debut album 3 Words being released on 26 October 2009. She collaborated with Will.i.am, Taio Cruz and Frazer T. Smith on the record that was number one for two weeks. It went platinum on 6 November 2009.

The first single Fight For This Love became the fourth best-selling track of the year in the UK and reached number one in the UK and Ireland. Cole also received her first solo Brit nomination for Best British Single.

Singles 3 words and Parachute followed with the former peaking at number four on the charts and the latter reaching number five in 2010. While her solo career was going well, her reconciled marriage was not. In early February that year it emerged that Ashley had cheated with five other women. She announced she was separating from her husband and filed for divorce on 26 May 2010.

She appeared on Piers Morgan's Life Stories later that year to talk about her marriage breakdown, wihich attracted an audience of 7.2 million. The same year she featured in three shows with her band-mates including Ghosthunting with Girls Aloud.

Things got worse for Cole as she was admitted to hospital on 23 July 2010 with acute malaria after a trip to Tanzania with her male dancer friend Derek Hough - luckily she recovered and returned to the X-Factor. For the first time, she was not the winning judge as her act Rebecca Ferguson came second behind Matt Cardle. On 24 October 2010, she released her first single Promise This from her second album Messy Little Raindrops.

On 5 May 2011, it was confirmed that Cole would appear as a judge alongside Cowell, LA Reid and Paula Abdul on the American version of the X-Factor but after three weeks on the show, she left. It was rumoured the US audience could not understand her accent while Cowell stated he felt she would be more comfortable returning to her former role in the UK.

However, it was confirmed that she would not be returning. Instead she focused on her music, releasing the first single from her third album Call My Name on 10 June 2012. It became her third number one single and the best-selling song of 2012 so far. Her third album A Million Lights followed on 18 June 2012.

Cole dueted with Gary Barlow at the Diamond Jubilee Concert on 4 June 2012 and o 30 August 2012, Cole was involved in a car crash with Will.i.am. The singer took to Twitter to say she was fine.

Cheryl went on to date backing dancer Tre Holloway, but she has since split with him - they were seeing each other for 14 months. Most recently she has signed on to appear as a judge on the 11th series of The X Factor.