Kym Marsh - from pop stardom to award-winning actress

Fatal Attraction theatre production.
Maidwell Marketing.
Shot at FiveFour Studios, Manchester.

Kym Marsh in the theatre production of Fatal Attraction - Credit: Matthew Pover

Cheshire Life's beauty editor talks to the actress and singer who is about to take to the dancefloor as a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing

Kym Marsh has lived quite the life from pop stardom to award-winning actress and at the tender age of 45 life is far from dull for this Warrington-based star.

I first met Kym a number of years ago at the Miss Manchester final when we were both on the same table as judges. Kym's passion, tenacity, talent, versatility and drive have ensured she’s in constant demand. We chatted about her varied career, the twentieth anniversary of Hear'Say, red carpet looks and her life as a celebrity. 

Tell us about your childhood. Were you a performer then – at home and at school?
I loved performing from a really young age. I was at dance school from the age of four but my parents didn’t realise I could sing until I was 10 years old. We used to go to a “free and easy” afternoon on a Sunday at a local Labour club, where anyone could get up on stage and sing with the resident band. 

I begged my parents to let me go up; they were reluctant but, after two weekends of pleading, they finally agreed. I sang Living Doll by Cliff Richard and my mum and dad couldn’t believe it. They had no clue. Someone from the audience approached mum and dad and told them about a little show from Liverpool called  The Starlight Roadshow – a group of kids that travelled around the country performing for charity. It was there I gained my first experiences on stage and I have some very special memories of that time.

You came to public prominence in the reality talent show, Popstars in 2001. What are your most vivid memories of the show?
My mum put me forward for Popstars. She had been watching the local news programme where they were asking for people to apply. All we knew was they were looking for people from the ages of 18-24 who could sing and dance.

There hadn’t been a show like it before so we just had no idea really. When mum called me to say she wanted me to go to the auditions I was reluctant to say the least. I said I wouldn’t stand a chance because there would be so many auditioning, why would they pick me? But pick me they did and that really was the launchpad for my career.

I guess the biggest moment for me was when Paul Adam travelled to my home to deliver the news that I had made the final five. That day changed life forever for me and my family.

It's the twentieth anniversary of Popstars and of course your group Hear’Say. Could there be a potential reunion to celebrate? 
Makes me feel so old. We have all been very fortunate to go on and have successful careers so I think a reunion wouldn’t be on the cards. We have reconnected though and chat regularly. I will always have a special place in my heart for them all.

As a young mum of two at the time, how difficult was the transition into the spotlight?
Being a young, single, mum at that time was tough. I had never spent more than a few hours away from my kids before; the time away from them was the most difficult part.

The only thing that made it bearable, was the fact that my parents took care of David and Emilie while I worked and were unbelievably supportive.

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They also have a brilliant dad, so I knew they were in the best hands. It was tough getting used to spending time away, but it was worth it in the end because I was able to give them a better start in life. 

What made you transition into acting?
After my brief solo music career ended I decided I needed a new challenge, and that came in the form of Saturday Night Fever in the West End. I played the role of Annette and it was such a great experience.

I had always had a love of acting at school, but the singing seemed to take over really. I decided I wanted to do more and was lucky enough to be able to get an acting agent and the rest is history. I have been very fortunate in the opportunities I have been given over the years. I feel very lucky.

How did the opportunity arise to play Michelle Connor in Coronation Street?
When I originally auditioned for the role of Michelle, it was only as a visiting artist for four episodes; she didn’t even have a last name at this point. I was thrilled to get the part and at that point had no clue they may bring her back.

So when I got the call to say they wanted me to return, and this time for six months, I was over the moon. It was a dream come true. I ended up being there for 13 years.

What was your favourite storyline in Corrie?
The one I'm most proud of was the baby loss storyline and the way in which Corrie delivered it. It was written beautifully and compassionately, directed brilliantly and handled with such sensitivity. It got people talking about baby loss, something which I have always encouraged people to do. It raised so much awareness and reached out to so many. 

You are currently presenting BBC Morning Live with Gethin Jones. You must be thrilled that the production is relocating to Media City in Salford! Do you enjoy the spontaneity of live tv?
Presenting on live TV was something totally new for me and I must admit it can be really nerve-racking.

Luckily I have had some great hugely experienced presenting partners in Matt Allwright and Gethin Jones who couldn't have been more supportive and I've learned so much from them both. I'm still pretty new to presenting but I'm enjoying it.

You look fantastic Kym. How do you keep fit?
I have just got back into training again. After being injured and having a double hernia repair back in January, it was a slow process in getting me back in the gym and ready for Fatal Attraction. I need to be on my A-game for that. I am training with Joe Delaney at UP fitness. 

Describe your personal style 
To be honest I think I have different styles depending on where I am and what I'm doing. At home, I love sitting in my comfies with zero makeup. When I am out shopping it's jeans and a jumper with minimal makeup.

Then if I'm dressing up it can be anything depending on where I'm going and how I'm feeling. I always believe less is more though, I'm not into huge bows or frills, understated is always better. 

Woman being made up

Armand, Vincent Allenby (left) and Martine Alexander styling Kym - Credit: Nicky Johnston

When it comes to events and getting ready for the red carpet, how do you decide on the look that you want to go for? 
When it comes to events I am lucky to have my friend and stylist Martine Alexander on hand to help me find something fab. She is genius.

Then of course fabulous hair and makeup teams too, including Vincent Allenby for hair, Sally Rowe, and of course you... You guys really help me with all of this. The looks you put together are just mega. You’re all so clever.

Do you have a favourite look that Vincent Allenby (Kym's hair guru and close friend) and I have created for you over the years? 
I think is my Jessica Rabbit look for the Soap Awards a few years back. I felt like an old-style movie star that night. It was awesome. Although when you did me as Jack Sparrow that year for my brother's Hallowe'en party was pretty spectacular.

What’s your earliest memory of your mum or grandma's beauty regime? 
My grandma had the most amazing skin; it was always so soft and she swore by Nivea. She loved it and hey, it clearly worked for her. Mum on the other hand, although she also has amazing skin, only really started looking after it when I told her off for not doing it.

I think that’s mainly because there are so many products out there and it can be overwhelming and confusing choosing the right one. I do recall her using Oil Of Olay and Avon though. I loved Avon when I was a kid. We always bought stuff from them.

What are your three favourite skincare products?
I love your Pro Body Glow, ( It's awesome and so versatile. I use it all over including my lips. You have created something special there my friend.
I use Palmer's Cocoa Butter after every shower. Smells delicious too.
I also love Dr Paw Paw lip balms. They are really great and come in different colours now too. 

And your favourite makeup products? 
I love Max Factor False Lash effect mascara, it's brilliant. I’ve used so many over the years but this always beats everything for me.
I also love Armani Luminous Silk Fluid foundation, I have used it for years including on Corrie. It gives my skin a lovely glow.
|And Rimmel Scandaleyes eyeliner. It stays on and is a twist-up, so no need for sharpening.


READ MORE: Theatre review: Fatal Attraction at Manchester Opera House