Former Spice Girl and Leeds lass Mel B has continued her rise to megastardom with the announcement she will be the new X Factor judge for the next UK series.
The straight-talking TV star, who was born in Harehills and grew up in Burley, is said to have signed a £1m deal to take the last spot on the judging panel on the singing contest.
She will now take a seat next to Simon Cowell, Louis Walsh and Cheryl Cole and yesterday promised to bring some “honesty” to the ITV talent show.
The 39-year-old said: “I’ve always thought honesty is the best policy when being a judge and that’s what I’m going to bring more of this year – whether it’s spotting an incredible singer, giving someone a reality check or debating with Simon over who’s got it wrong. Now I can’t wait to get started and find some amazing talent.”
Mel appeared as a guest judge on the ITV show in 2012 and has been on the judging panel on both the American and Australian versions of the show.
She is currently in Sydney working as a judge on talent show The Voice Kids.
Cowell said he was “thrilled” by the appointment, saying: “I thought she was fantastic as a guest judge a couple of years ago. She is feisty, opinionated and, I believe, will be a great mentor.”
The coveted place on the hit show’s judging panel is one of the top gigs for TV personalities; her £1m fee reportedly includes a £100,000 wardrobe and expenses allowance.
The mum-of-three has come a long way since first honing her performance skills at Leeds’ former Intake High School – the city’s so-called “fame school”, which later became Leeds West Academy.
Before hitting the big time she also worked briefly for YEP’s former sister paper, the Leeds Weekly News, in promotions.
In 1992 Mel was also crowned Miss Leeds Weekly News – as a snap from our archive shows.
She grew up in a three-bedroom semi-detached house in Burley, with mum and dad Andrea and Martin, who have since moved to Horsforth.
The Burley house was frequently an epicentre of attention for the Spice Girls and when they reunited in 2008, the Yorkshire Evening Post chatted with the girl band about their vivid Leeds memories.
Gesturing to the girls, Geri said: “Do you remember all of us sleeping in your bed in Kirkstall? It must have been 10 or 12 years ago, we were recording up there, we didn’t even have a record deal then.”
Mel B said: “Oh yes, it was my mum’s house.”
Geri continues: “We were top-and-tailing in this tiny house in Kirkstall, mucking in together, eating chips and, erm, what do you call those things....?”
“Scraps!” laughed Mel B.
“That’s right, scraps, love those, “ said Geri.
“Leeds has totally made me who I am today, ” said Mel B. “Apart from being with this lot and travelling the world – your childhood experiences mould you completely.”
***Filming on the new X Factor series starts next week with auditions in Manchester, London, Newcastle and Edinburgh.