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Living for the weekend

PUBLISHED: 11:25 29 July 2014 | UPDATED: 11:25 29 July 2014

EXG AUG 14 FRANKIE

EXG AUG 14 FRANKIE

Archant

The Saturdays' effortless climb to the upper echelons of the pop charts has been achieved despite a rather grounded approach to stardom. And in Romford-born Frankie Sandford, it seems the quintet have someone who craves her Essex roots even more than a life in the glare of a lens

Despite pop stardom and having the music world at her feet, Frankie Sandford has a very level head and a heart for home.

‘I think being in the spotlight is something most people dream of when they’re growing up, but it’s not really all that,’ Frankie begins, as we run the rule over The Saturdays’ current projects, which include a Greatest Hits collection and UK tour. ‘It’s great having the spotlight on you, but even better when you can get away from it all and relax in places that mean a lot to you.’

For Frankie, that’s a direct reference to Essex, the county where she was raised and where her passion for music and performance really kicked off. Born in 1989 to parents Viv and Kevin, she studied music at the College of Performing Arts (CPA) in Romford, the same base that also gave us talent in the form of band mate Rochelle Humes, Jessie J and actor James Buckley (from The Inbetweeners).

At just 12, her break as a member of S Club 8 saw an early flirtation with the music scene. The group, positioned as an even younger version of the hugely successful S Club, achieved considerable success, securing four top 5 hits before disbanding in early 2005.

‘That was a great period in my life,’ Frankie says. ‘I’d auditioned through CBBC, something called S Club Search. It was fantastic to be exposed to the cut and thrust of the industry and, although I didn’t know it at the time, it proved to be a really valuable experience for what was to come with The Saturdays.’

Her second shot at fame would be a few years off, and in the meantime Frankie took the opportunity to sink back into a rather more sanitised teenage life.

‘I guess after everything that happened with S Club 8 in such a short space of time, it was nice to get a bit of my life back. I did all the usual things like studying and working in shops at the weekend, and enjoyed being a teenager. I definitely needed that time, even though I was still auditioning for stuff.’

But when the opportunity came to join The Saturdays in 2007, it was too good an opportunity to pass up, and certainly more exciting than selling clothes.

‘I think from the very start we felt we had something incredibly special. I knew Rochelle from CPA and the other members of the group are all very similar to us two. It was clear we were all going to get on really well.’

The public appeal for five sassy, stylish and effortlessly beautiful girls at the top of their game was instant. What has followed, off the back of five studio albums, 16 top 20 hits and the early indications that the girls’ brand is starting to be recognised Stateside, is a fitting reflection of the effort each has put in. For Frankie as well, the demands have been greater, given that in October of last year she gave birth to her first child, Parker, with former Chelsea and England footballer Wayne Bridge.

‘I’ve never used motherhood as an excuse for anything, because there are so many people out there juggling jobs and home life and all the responsibilities that go with both. But certainly, being a mum feels fantastic and I’m in a really happy place.’

And speaking of places, does she have time to retrace those Essex roots, despite a packed schedule which this year includes a Greatest Hits tour?

‘Oh definitely — I love getting back to Essex and I’m close enough to be able to do that,’ she says. ‘It’s great to spend quality time with family, and of course, since Parker has come along, that’s something I’ll do even more.

‘What is strange is how everything changes so quickly. I know you can say that about anywhere, but some of the places I used to go out, like the Pacific Edge nightclub in Romford for instance; it’s sad when these iconic spots don’t stand the test of time or change beyond recognition.

‘But to sum it up, Essex has always been a place of fun for me — going out partying, shopping at Lakeside, hanging out with mates. It’s obviously taken on a whole new reputation now with shows like The Only Way Is Essex, but for me it was a great place where my career flourished and I had some fun along the way, so I’ll always be grateful to the county for that.’

Whether she’ll be spending much time at home over the coming months is another matter. The Saturdays have a challenging tour schedule laid out in front of them for the remainder of 2014 which begins in Scotland at the start of September and runs right the way through to Plymouth on the 23rd of the same month. For Essex-based fans of The Saturdays, there is a London date at Wembley Arena on September 19.

The live shows offer the girls the best possible opportunity to showcase their (less than imaginatively titled) Greatest Hits album, which hits the shelves this month.

‘There’s nothing like playing live to people who know your records,’ Frankie continues. ‘It’s perhaps the one part of the process where you really feel you are getting something back because you can see how much your tracks have influenced those people. It’s a massive buzz, it really is.’ n

The Saturdays — Finest Selection: The Greatest Hits is out on August 11, with September UK tour tickets on sale now.

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