Cheryl: Celebrating 20 years of the geordie pop icon

This year marks 20 years since Cheryl appeared on Popstars:The Rivals

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Can you believe that it has been 20 years since the geordie icon that is Cheryl Tweedy first appeared on our screens? If you can cast your mind back to 2002, you may remember a young 19-year-old Cheryl, full of hope auditioning for the newest TV talent show, Popstars: The Rivals.

Fast forward to today, Cheryl has had quite the career, changed her surname twice, and continues to be one of the nation’s most-loved Geordies. Here we take a look back at Cheryl’s 20-year long career and personal life.

2002 Popstars: The Rivals

In Cheryl’s audition for Popstars: The Rivals, she sang S Club 7’s 2001 track Have You Ever, to judges Geri Haliwell, Louis Walsh and Pete Waterman going straight through to the next round. The public fell in love with Cheryl for her sweet-nature and northern charm.

As we know, Cheryl went on to secure a place within Girls Aloud (the girl group was created on the show), going on to beat their rivals (boyband One True Voice) for the 2002 Christmas number one, with Sound of the Underground.

2002 - 2009 Girls Aloud

As soon as Girls Aloud entered the music scene, they already were on their way to success. The group went on to release five studio albums, which included four number one hits including Sound of the Underground, The Promise, and two charity singles; I’ll Stand By You and Walk This Way alongside Sugababes. They embarked on many tours during their career, performed on TV countless times and won a BRIT Awards for Best British Single for The Promise.

Girls Aloud also had three successful TV shows with ITV, Girls Aloud: Home Truths, Girls Aloud: Off The Record and The Passions of Girls Aloud. They also had various brand deals such as dolls with Mattel, and false eyelashes with Eylure. The group decided to go on hiatus in 2009 to work on solo projects.

Girls Aloud performing in 2005Girls Aloud performing in 2005
Girls Aloud performing in 2005

2008 - 2010 The X Factor

In 2008, we saw Cheryl replace Sharon Osbourne on the judging panel of The X Factor. On her first ever stint on the show, Cheryl was given the girls to mentor, and went on to win with her act Alexandra Burke. In her second year, Cheryl continued the winning streak after mentoring a fellow Geordie -  Joe McElderry. She stayed on the show until 2010, until the panel of judges completely changed for the year after. In 2011, Cheryl briefly judged on the USA version of the X Factor before leaving after three weeks.

2009 - 2019 Solo Career

Cheryl became the most successful member of Girls Aloud after embarking on a solo career in 2009. Her debut single, Fight For This Love skyrocketed to number one, and her debut album 3 Words did the same. Cheryl flitted in and out of the music scene, her longest break being four years - from 2014 to 2018. During her solo career, Cheryl had five number one singles, and two out of four of her albums also reached number one. Cheryl has not released music since 2019.

Cheryl performing Fight For This Love in 2010Cheryl performing Fight For This Love in 2010
Cheryl performing Fight For This Love in 2010

2012 Girls Aloud Reunion

To celebrate ten years, Girls Aloud decided to reunite and release a special greatest hits album titled Ten. The album also included two brand-new tracks, Something New and Beautiful ‘Cause You Love Me. The girls also embarked on a special tour.

2012 Cheryl: My Story

In the same year of the Girls Aloud reunion, Cheryl released an autobiography titled Cheryl: My Story. The book was a tell-all, mostly focusing on the highs and lows of her personal life, as well as her professional career in the industry. The main focus of the book however, was her high-profile divorce from footballer Ashley Cole. The book topped the Sunday Times best-seller list within the first five months of release.

2014 The X Factor Return

In a completely surprising move given the previous bad blood between Cheryl and The X Factor boss Simon Cowell, Cheryl returned to the show in 2014, alongside Spice Girl Mel B, Louis Walsh and Simon himself. Cheryl was given the groups to mentor and appeared on stage with her act Reggie and Bollie during one of their performances.

Cheryl’s return to The X FactorCheryl’s return to The X Factor
Cheryl’s return to The X Factor

2019 The Greatest Dancer

After a break from her career as she became a mother for the first time with son Bear, Cheryl finally returned in 2019 in a brand-new judging role. The Greatest Dancer aired for two series on BBC, and focused on finding the UK’s best dance act. Cheryl judged on the panel alongside Strictly’s Oti Mabuse, Glee’s Matthew Morrison and Drag Race choreographer Todrick Hall.

Cheryl with her fellow judges on The Greatest DancerCheryl with her fellow judges on The Greatest Dancer
Cheryl with her fellow judges on The Greatest Dancer


Cheryl has mostly stayed away from the music and TV scene since 2019. However, after the loss of Girls Aloud bandmate Sarah Harding to breast cancer in 2021, Cheryl has been raising money for various cancer charities alongside the rest of Girls Aloud. They have raised money by taking part in a Race For Life, holding a special gala in Sarah’s name and releasing a charity pyjama range with Primark. Aside from that, Cheryl leads a fairly private life with her son, Bear.

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