It's been a tumultuous few weeks for Little Mix, arguably the biggest pop group on the planet.
Production on the band’s recent BBC One talent show The Search was hampered by the coronavirus crisis and saw Jade Thirlwall forced to self-isolate and appear via video-link on the first live show of the series after staff tested positive for Covid-19.
Now it’s been announced that Jesy Nelson is to take an “extended” break from the band for “private medical reasons”, fuelling rumours of a split.
The singer confirmed the news through a statement from the band’s management.
She has missed a number of public appearances in recent weeks, including the final of Little Mix’s BBC One talent show The Search, and a performance at the MTV European Music Awards.
Here is everything you need to know:
How ill is Jesy Nelson?
“Jesy is having extended time off from Little Mix for private medical reasons,” said publicist, Simon Jones. “We will not be issuing any further comment currently and ask media to please respect her privacy at this time.”
It is not known what is wrong with Nelson or how unwell she is, but the announcement follows a number of missed public appearances by the singer.
Two weeks ago, Nelson failed to appear during the live final of Little Mix The Search, and last week she was absent from the MTV EMAs where Little Mix’s three other members appeared as holograms.
What is wrong with Jesy?
Nelson has spoken openly about her battle with anxiety in the past, most notable in her 2019 BBC documentary Odd One Out, which won her the award for best factual entertainment at the 2020 National Television Awards.
As part of the film, she revealed that abuse on social media got so bad she attempted to take her own life. The heartbreaking documentary drew praise from fans and critics alike, with many showing their support for the singer.
It could be possible that Nelson is taking some time away from music to concentrate on her mental health, although this has not been confirmed.
Will Little Mix split up?
The members of Little Mix in October 2018: (L-R) Jade Thirlwall, Jesy Nelson, Perrie Edwards, and Leigh-Anne Pinnock (Photo: John Phillips/Getty Images)
Without knowing any further details about Nelson’s medical condition, it’s purely conjecture as to whether her hiatus from Little Mix could turn into anything more permanent.
That hasn’t stopped fans from speculating that she could be leaving the band, but would Little Mix split if that was the case?
As showcased by last week’s MTV EMAs appearance, the band are still a force to be reckoned with even when performing with one member down.
Little Mix formed on The X Factor in 2011 and have become one of the country’s biggest-selling girl bands, and as a commercial powerhouse, music industry executives will be keen to keep the group going as long as possible.
Other famous examples of bands successfully continuing even once core founding members have departed the line-up include the Spice Girls and Take That.
So there is certainly a precedent in place, and it's likely that were Nelson to depart permanently, Little Mix fans would still have a band to enjoy.
Will Little Mix’s 2021 tour still go ahead?
The band are scheduled to embark on a UK tour in April 2021 after initially postponing due to the coronavirus pandemic. But will it go ahead without Nelson?
The 21-date tour was originally due to launch in June 2020 and run for around a month, taking the band to a range of outdoor venues including a date at British Summer Time festival in London’s Hyde Park.
But the band announced they were cancelling plans in April 2020, urging fans to “stay safe and stay home” during the UK’s first lockdown.
As yet, there has been no official word on whether Jesy Nelson’s hiatus will overlap with the band’s current touring schedule, or whether it will affect plans if it does.
A version of this article originally appeared on our sister title, the Yorkshire Evening Post