Former Spice Girl Geri Horner looks back on the 1990s and reflects on her own incredible journey from working-class Watford girl to international superstar.
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This programme contains some strong language.
For me, the '90s was the decade of Britpop and Cool Britannia...
Music was the focus of youth culture and youth culture was culture.
..of grunge and girl power...
If you don't like Wannabe, you've got a dead soul.
..of rave and reconciliation.
It was a decade of opportunity, of hope,
of change in all areas of life.
A time when young people gate-crashed the mainstream
and took over art and television.
I think it was one of the few decades in British history
where it doesn't pay to be posh.
It felt like we had won, and it was completely brilliant.
And there were some wild moments along the way.
When she reached 18, nothing stopped her.
She actually went like a volcano.
-Those were the days, Ange.
-They certainly were, darling.
During the '90s, I went from teenage raver to Ginger Spice to solo star.
And I look back on it as a time of real opportunity,
when Britain was at its very best.
Just looking back, I've realised the '90s really was a snapshot
of a time when, yes, it's OK to be you, it's OK to be yourself.
We will celebrate that.
# See our friends
# See the sights
# Feel all right. #
So this is me in 1990,
a year of massive changes all over the world.
The great Nelson Mandela walked to freedom.
Europe celebrated the fall of the Berlin Wall.
And Britain's Iron Lady, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher,
resigned following the poll tax riots.
We are leaving Downing Street for the last time,
after 11 and a half wonderful years.
Yes, I was one of Thatcher's children,
a teenager during the '80s.
And I was brought up in Watford, North London.
And even as a kid, I was dreaming of fame and fortune.
And that's me with my lovely dad.
We weren't a typical working-class family.
Dad was British, my mum was Spanish, and much younger than him.
She's lived here longer than most,
yet she's still got a really strong accent.
She's never lost it.
She's always been a very happy child
and very happy girl,
and she was very kind with people too.
But I never thought, honestly, truthfully,
I never thought she would be so famous like that.
-You always tried to show off.
Look at several people, "Ah, look at me, look at me, look at me."
Singing all the time.
You loved performing.
It must be a bit annoying.
Yes, you get on people's nerves.
-But it was all right. You know?
-But you're a lovely girl.
It's really funny being here. Really brings back so many memories.
My dad used to run his second-hand car dealer business from here.
And so he would always have lots of different cars outside,
like, Hillman Imps, about three of them,
and he'd be tinkering along, and all his fingers were all greasy.
And the phone would always be going.
Thanks to my dad,
one of my favourite toys was a little red sports car.
I dreamed of owning a real one just like it.
I remember, actually, when I was a little girl, I was probably about,
I would say about seven or eight, and we had a loo in the back garden.
OK, an outside loo. And there was a little step.
And I remember sitting on that step
writing my first kind of song-poem thing.
So living here, I had this big master plan, like, yeah,
somehow I'm going to, you know, get rich and famous.
That was the dream. Ha-ha.
# Every day I hear a different story
# People saying that you're no good for me... #
For two local North London boys,
that pop dream had already become a reality.
I loved Wham for so many reasons.
They were great fun, and the music was just brilliant.
I remember, like, all these girls would go and stand outside
Andrew Ridgeley's house, you know, because he was the good-looking one.
But I liked George.
I had no idea what side of the fence he was on.
In latter years, I tried to flirt with him and it didn't work.
# I don't want your freedom... #
To begin with, I didn't really fit in at school.
I felt like an outsider -
a girl from the other side of town.
But getting into grammar school was one of the best things
that ever happened to me.
This was a life-changing experience.
The education that it gave me was fantastic.
But it also had a lot of tradition.
You know, I had to wear a boater, you know,
one of those straw boaters.
So it's quite funny, you know,
little scrappy kid from the other side of Watford
coming here, wearing a boater.
And really having to fit in with these girls that were from
probably much more privileged backgrounds, actually.
I have such great memories of my schooldays.
But there were times when problems at home were difficult to deal with.
Like a lot of people, and more so these days, my parents divorced.
And I think I was at that age
where I was old enough to understand what was going on,
but not really old enough to have the sort of tools to process it
and cope with it properly.
It was a tough time. But whenever I struggled with anything,
I'd turn to my music.
So this song, looking back, is, you know, quite meaningful
because I think ABBA were going through their own break-up.
# One of us is lonely
# One of us is only
# Waiting for a call
# Sorry for herself
# Feeling stupid, feeling small
# Wishing she had never left at all... #
You know, songs that have always been
like the soundtrack of our lives.
You know, so you hear that again, you are transported back.
So that song means something to me.
As a teenager, I was very insecure and really lacked confidence,
especially with boys.
So when Madonna became a star in the mid-'80s,
it made me and millions of other girls
feel so much better about ourselves.
I think teenagers can connect to feeling trapped.
You're too old for the teacup ride,
but you're not big enough for the big wheel.
You're somewhere in between.
I think great pop records,
when they wrote about that kind of thing, you really connected to it.
And I think that's why I connected to Madonna.
# And you can dance for inspiration... #
I remember going to see Desperately Seeking Susan...
# Come on... #
I knew you had to be 15.
# I'm waiting! #
And I think I may have been 12,
and I remember putting socks in a bra, I didn't even wear a bra.
I got in, I was like, "Yes!"
# Get up on your feet, yeah... #
It was very, very un-airbrushed.
It was, like, "Yeah, this is me, with all my little rubber bangles.
"And this is me with my three bras on at the same time."
You know, the music was great, the story was great,
I was just blown away by it.
So that is me at 17, in 1989.
A wannabe Madonna who decided to quit school.
And even though Mum didn't agree with me, she always supported me.
She stood up for me and has been by my side.
She's got this very strong character.
You look like Marilyn Monroe there. It's nice.
No matter who you are, whoever I have introduced her to,
she is like, "Well, what do you want?
"What do you want with my daughter?"
Here's my home-made silver rave outfit.
When I turned 18, August, 1990, the new music scene
gave me the opportunity to be even more rebellious.
I loved being part of the rave scene and the way it united young people
in clubs, warehouses, and fields across the nation.
The '80s, if you were doing well out of it,
was an individualistic decade.
It was the decade of the yuppie, of the bond trader,
the big bang in the city.
About me, me, me.
And the culture that arrives at the tail end of it
isn't about that at all.
It's a revolt against it.
It's about loving each other.
The ethos of rave and of club culture at that time
was this real thing of togetherness, of shared experience,
that we were all in it together.
The music I think of at this time was early Chicago House,
Frankie Knuckles, Ten City, Joe Smooth.
Tracks like Promised Land which have this almost reverential kind
of slightly biblical, gospel-like air to them.
# Sometimes I feel like putting my hands up in the air... #
God bless my mother.
I'd been such a good girl up until I was 17,
and then suddenly, I'd met these people who would say,
"Come raving," and I remember coming back to my mother, going,
"Mother, I've found my people."
And she was, like, horrified.
When she reached 18, nothing stopped her.
She actually went like a volcano.
-So was I a nightmare, a bit?
-Ah, well, you was a nightmare
but it's better you be a nightmare when you are a teenager.
The cross-section of music that I was loving was such a wide range.
There was like Frankie Knuckles, there was Candi Staton,
Little Louie, Alison Limerick...
# Don't reach out to me with an apology... #
# Don't reach out for me with an apology
# I'll never suffer your desire... #
I loved it when it was like a really heavy bass,
but then something really melodic that touches you,
and you are like, "Yeah, I feel it."
# So why don't you take my hand?
# Come away, come out of your blues... #
I knew that something was special about this song,
and I was gobsmacked...
..at how, that so many people
in a room could react to one song.
-That was nice.
It was really cool.
The mix that it got in America
with Frankie Knuckles and David Morales
just took it to another level,
and it's that mix that went on to be loved
by lovely, lovely, lovely audiences around the country and in America.
I've had people who have said that they wouldn't have been born
if it hadn't been for my song,
which is SLIGHTLY worrying.
Along with my old friend Angela, I started hanging out
in The Game Bird pub in Watford.
It was a great meeting place for hundreds of young ravers.
-It used to be packed, didn't it?
And there was a DJ as well, wasn't there?
-Those were the days, Ange.
-They certainly were, darling.
I can picture you in platform boots and a big furry,
fluffy coat that came up to about here,
and you walked in and everyone was like, "There she comes."
But it included everybody, didn't it?
I just remember all these cars just lining up
and all going off to the venue and it was like OUR club, OUR secret.
Back before the internet and mobile phones,
we'd have to wait in the pub
for news of secret raves, like Sunrise and Biology.
When Biology was on down the road, I mean,
everybody turned up here and it was like,
you couldn't get a car in the car park,
there was cars parked all the way down that road.
And you came in, and the place was buzzing and then,
all of a sudden, it's like, "This is where it's going to be."
And the whole pub just emptied.
Listen to this.
MUSIC: Where Love Lives By Alison Limerick
-Takes you back, doesn't it?
Did you have that sort of dance, really crap dancing?
-People would do that sort of big box, little box.
-I know, yeah.
It was brilliant while the party lasted.
-Go, go, go!
-Go, lads, go, go, go!
But soon the government and the police took action to clamp down
on the rave scene.
It is time to get back to basics,
to self-discipline and respect for the law.
Soon, new laws were passed to control the scene
and make outdoor raves illegal.
You've got this government legislation,
the Criminal Justice Act, which is insane, looking back,
makes reference to music with repetitive beats.
That's in legislation, right?
The government legislated against dance music.
That's how much they didn't like it.
I never understood why people couldn't go out and party.
It seemed to be ridiculous
to stop people wanting to enjoy themselves.
They were thinking it was like the '70s, I suppose.
They were thinking it was like a political uprising.
When, actually, it was just a whole load of people who were dancing
and taking drugs.
I was a London raver,
but the scene had a real impact throughout Britain,
# Son, I'm 30
# I only went with your mother cos she's dirty... #
I cannot emphasise enough what a great place
The Hacienda in Manchester was.
I mean, it's arguably the most famous club that's ever been.
# What you get is just what you see, yeah... #
# I see it so I take it freely... #
Everything was sort of vivid, Day-Glo primary colours.
And everyone wore great big, wide-flared trousers.
And long-sleeved T-shirts.
My mum told me I looked triangular around that time,
which was the desired effect.
And my hair was centre-parted and grown down here
in what was elegantly known in Manchester as a bumhead.
Manchester lads, Happy Mondays and Stone Roses
were two of the biggest bands to come out of the scene.
When both made it on to Top Of The Pops,
it seemed like a real breakthrough.
Things like that would happen and you'd feel like
something that you knew about had somehow got to sneak in.
# The pack on my back is aching... #
It felt like we had won, and it was completely brilliant.
Things were changing, and not only in politics and music.
New youth shows suddenly made it seem like
we were also taking over TV.
The television that was going on, it felt like it was for us.
That people that were making it were from our generation.
It wasn't some stuffy adults.
All of those kinds of programmes that were under the umbrella
of Planet 24, Charlie Parsons.
I was, like, "Yeah, that was just really impressive."
I felt, and Channel 4 agreed,
that there was an appetite
for an entertainment show
which would be very different, aimed at 16 to 34-year-olds.
And that, essentially, was what The Word was.
I think you've got to be really drunk to watch this show.
If I had a body like you,
I probably wouldn't want to take my top off either.
It was a reaction, if you like,
to the rather staid world of TV that had been before
and, in some ways, a reaction to some of the youth programmes
of before which were a little bit sort of pompous and pretentious.
And it's the end of this part of the show
and it's also probably the end of my career,
but thank you so much for giving me the chance.
The Word was for my generation.
It had energy and attitude.
It was great to see the spirit on morning television too.
-It's me. How are you?
The ethos of the production company was
that we put so much work into it,
every individual show was so carefully crafted
and had so much in it,
and, I think in TV terms,
it actually changed the way TV was made.
Let's see the carpet!
Like most teenagers, I wanted to be famous.
Ideally, a pop star like Madonna.
Or even a cool TV presenter.
So when I saw an ad to present The Big Breakfast,
I grabbed the opportunity.
-Here's Chris and Paul.
-No, I'm Gaby!
I had all these motivational things, like,
there was a picture of Charlie Persons,
look what he's done.
I had, you know, things like, "persistence beats resistance."
My first encounter with Geri was when she sent an audition tape
to a strand we had on The Big Breakfast
called Trash Store,
which kind of encouraged people to be wannabe presenters.
OK, coming up, we've got news, reviews and...
Girls, you're in for a treat.
I don't think it got very far and I've got a feeling
Gaby was a little bit rude about it.
It was in a whole series of things and we just had a bit of fun.
We've got that quarterback, Dan Marino, coming over.
OK, I'll see you right after the break.
Gaby Roslin, she took the mickey out of me and she went,
"Blah-blah-blah-blah-blah." And I was like, "Oh, my God."
And I really liked her. I was so gutted.
It was like, "Oh, that's my first go."
It was a bit of a setback.
But I didn't give up.
I soon got work on Live TV's Fashion Police.
Maria, what are you wearing?
You're in serious need of a makeover.
And had a Madonna cameo appearance on Dance Energy.
Strike a pose!
But my first proper TV success came
when I appeared in front of millions in Turkey.
Hard to believe now, but I recorded many shows over there.
And became one of the glamour girls of Turkish television.
Hug that pillow, Geri.
It's a bit like The Price Is Right.
But this was called Let's Make A Deal.
In Turkish it's Sec Bakalim.
And so I had to wear a gown and love that television and, like,
I signed my first autograph.
It was a great job at the time.
But I wanted to focus on my music and go back home.
Since my parents divorced,
Dad had lived on a high-rise council estate in Watford.
I'd always remained close to him,
and I'd visit him whenever I could.
My dad, he had, like, this massive collection of books
that he would share with me, and also a big record collection.
He was just like a real character, a real character.
And he was also one of these people that, you know
when someone doesn't quite fulfil their potential
but had so much of it?
For various reasons, we all get dealt stuff in life,
and you just think, "Aw, I feel for him."
You know? Cos, you know, deep down, he was a good man.
But in late 1993, while I was writing songs
and determined to have a career in music, everything changed.
I was just in my little zone and then what really threw me,
It was in the November period, my father died.
I was so... I was almost paralysed by grief.
I didn't have the tools to process it.
I have this theory, and I don't know if it's true,
but I think success comes from three places. One is preparation.
One is opportunity. And one is need.
And I think my father's death gave me that need,
it's like a death energy.
It drove me into sort of really militant work.
OK, I'm going to do this.
And that went on to, you know, suddenly,
I met, you know, the girls in the band.
And suddenly I found something that I could belong to
and sort of distract myself from what, you know,
all that sort of pain and grief that I just didn't understand.
In March, 1994, I answered a small ad in The Stage newspaper.
They wanted five streetwise girls to join a new band.
No prizes for guessing the ringleader.
This would be the beginning of my greatest adventure.
The launch pad for an all-conquering girl gang.
We are so lucky.
We are doing exactly what we want to do. We are pursuing a dream.
I tell you what,
there's millions of kids out there that want to be pop stars.
I love you, Jason, I love you!
# Help me escape this feeling
# Of insecurity... #
But success was still two years away.
# I need you so much... #
In the meantime, five Northern lads began to drive teenage girls wild.
# But if we all stand up in the name of love... #
I mean, the thing I always liked about Take That
was that they were Northern
and there is a charm to their Northernness, I think.
The great appeal of Take That?
Teenage girls, hot boys, good songs,
and it had been a while since anybody came along
and tickled their fancy.
# Relight my fire
# Your love is my only desire
# Relight my... #
They were approachable and they were funny, you know?
I think especially after something like, say,
New Kids On The Block, they just seemed miles away, you know?
Whereas Take That looked a bit more like somebody you might know.
# With the lights out, it's less dangerous
# Here we are now... #
So while Take That were wowing teenage girls,
the Teen Spirit of Nirvana and American grunge
was dominating rock music.
I wasn't into the grunge scene. Too dark for me.
But I liked the way young British guitar bands responded.
Britpop was genuinely a bit of reaction to grunge, really.
And it was also a kind of magazine conceit.
They put them all together and said, "Hurray, here we are.
"It's a new British invasion. We are just as good as grunge."
To me, Britpop was fresh, vibrant with cool and clever bands
like Pulp, Suede and particularly Blur.
They drew on the sound and spirit
of British music from the swinging '60s.
Well, when I think of Blur's early music,
I kind of think of me and Graham and Damon staying up all night
and going insane just making, like, sonic terrorism.
# There's no other way
# There's no other way... #
I remember the record company coming down and absolutely freaking out...
Spitting nails, just going...
"British... British pop? You're mad."
"British pop, it's never going to work."
# All the people
# So many people... #
We were young, what? 20? 21?
And being in the thick of it as it happened
just made us feel quite proud to be British,
and I think we kind of knew we were onto something.
# Parklife... #
Blur had their own way at the start,
so things got really interesting
when Oasis crashed the Britpop party.
Sparks flew, and there was laddish rivalries in the pop playground.
Take pictures. Don't ask questions.
# Is it my imagination
# Or have I finally found something worth living for?... #
They themselves said,
"There's nothing that complicated about our group.
"It's about cigarettes and alcohol
"and having a good time with your mates."
I think that's pretty much the verbatim Noel quote from that time.
But they were just very different. They weren't art school.
# Cigarettes and alcohol.... #
The extraordinary ordinary person was very much to the fore
in that time and it really, really made a difference
because it just generally makes people think, "I could do that.
"I don't have to have any privileges."
Boys being boys, it was bound to happen.
I remember how, in 1995, the two heavyweights of Britpop
squared up in the battle for number one.
# Don't let anybody get in your way... #
'The Manchester band Oasis and their archrivals, Blur,
'have released new singles today,
'each hoping to reach the number one spot next week.
'The music industry hasn't seen anything like it
'since the Beatles fought it out
'with The Rolling Stones in the '60s.'
But despite their swagger, those northern upstarts, Oasis,
came off second best.
But tonight, there's no denying, Blur are Top Of The Pops.
I think it's easy to overlook
what a tribal thing music was.
# City dweller
# Successful fella
# He thought to himself
# Oops, got a lot of money... #
I don't know where it went wrong, really.
But, boy, it did, didn't it?
# He lives in a house
# A very big house in the country
# He's got a fog in his chest so he needs a lot of rest... #
Pop culture was still about the boys.
Britpop became the soundtrack to the new lad culture.
And now all-day drinking was legal,
the party seemed to never end.
Being in the band in the '90s was basically
a licence to misbehave, get drunk, tell everyone to fuck off
and shag their girlfriend.
For me, you know, Blur were cheeky chappies, Oasis,
great songs, really good songs,
but what they were emanating was a little bit too aggressive for me.
You know, and that was sort of that whole ladette culture.
I couldn't connect with that.
# I need to be myself... #
Lots of girls got in on the action too.
On one hand, lads and ladettes got bad press in the tabloids.
But on the other,
there were celebrated by new magazines like Loaded.
Loaded became like a rock star.
And actually, I think that the way women were portrayed
in the women's magazines which were all about hair and beauty
and relationships, like that's all that women care about,
didn't represent a lot of the women I knew.
# Drive boy dog boy
# Dirty numb angel boy... #
Lads was the first cover line used on Loaded magazine.
So if you were involved at all in that scene,
and you expected to be taken as seriously as any of those men,
then somehow you became a ladette.
# You had hands girl boy and steel boy... #
Loaded gets historically misrepresented.
You know, "It's full of naked women." And it genuinely wasn't.
We were just honest about the fact that we fancied women.
And I think then somebody came up with the phrase ladette,
and it was just like, you mean, lasses?
To be honest, lads mags or the ladettes, it was just a tag.
A media tag, as far as I was concerned.
And actually, I thought these women were great.
The likes of Zoe Ball and Sara Cox that went out there and they did,
they stayed out late, but they were still at work on time the next day.
So what? And they were hot. And?
The lads had ruled the charts for too long.
In the summer of 1996, everything was about to change.
The time was right for the world to be conquered by girl power.
# Yo I'll tell you what I want What I really, really want
# So tell me what you want What you really, really want
# I'll tell you what I want, What I really, really want
# So tell me what you want, What you really, really want... #
Whenever Wannabe comes on the radio,
you just want to hear it over and over again. It's just great.
That is a great pop single.
You know, you can't really pull it apart and say,
"Hey, if I want to make a great pop single
"I'm going to make this song called Wannabe."
But it's a brilliant pop single and the video is hilarious.
If you don't like Wannabe, you've got a dead soul.
# Get your act together,
# We could be just fine... #
They were ideal kind of pop fodder, I suppose, really.
And, you know, they had all the things
that you have with a great band.
They had really good tunes, they had one for somebody to fancy,
that's, you know, which one do you like the best?
# You've got to get with my friends... #
And everybody was saying, "Well, what's a zigazig ah?
"What does that mean?" Well, who cares?
Who knows what a-wop-bop-a-loo-bop a-wop-bam-boom means? Nobody.
Top Of The Pops magazine gave them all their little Ginger Spice,
Scary Spice, Baby Spice, Sporty Spice and Posh Spice monikers
and that's all kind of stuck.
It's a very British record, so you've got this diverse group and
then halfway through, it's got this patois bit.
# Slam your body down and wind it all around... #
Slam your body down and wind it all around.
That's from a reggae record, what's that doing there, right?
Well, the answer is, it's got the full multicultural glory of Britain
is kind of in there somewhere. It's clever.
# Friendships never ends
# If you want to be my lover. #
Wannabe was number one all over the world but it hadn't been an
We'd worked two hard years to write the music and gain control.
The spirit of the '90s had empowered us to become international stars.
I think the word "girl power" existed before, you know,
it was ever said by the Spice Girls
and what I think was good about it was it felt...
It felt less harsh than the word feminism.
At that time feminism was,
for me, felt like a very harsh bra-burning word.
Sometimes in life you have to hide vegetables in chocolate.
You have to wrap it up so it's much easier to digest.
I think it is first base feminism and any form of feminism
is fine by me, so if you've got young women saying to other young
women, "You can do what you want, wear what you want, go out,
"enjoy your friends, they're just as important, if not more
"important than blokes," that is fine by me.
And they did that all the time.
Then came the 1997 Brit Awards which I was really proud to be part of.
It was a great moment to celebrate our country and girl power
had made the front pages.
I remember I got given a black Gucci dress by this stylist and I
said, "I'm going to stitch a flag onto it."
And she went to me, "No, that's National Front."
And I just thought, "No, that's not how I feel."
I love all different kinds of races and I think most of us do.
That's what's brilliant about Britain.
And so just because of what she said,
I stitched on the back a peace sign, just to say...
To rebalance it. Just to make sure. And that's all that was about.
It was just saying, "Britain is great and it includes everybody
"and I want to celebrate it."
And I think it was how everyone else was feeling.
Something patriotic was happening in Britain and it wasn't just
me in my Union Jack dress.
There was Noel Gallagher with his Union Jack guitar,
David Bowie with his Alexander McQueen coat.
Without a doubt, the Jack was back.
It was interesting because we used the Union Jack and the Union Jack,
for a long time, had had really odd connotations.
Only a few years before that, the British flag is still
associated with the right wing, with National Front, with skinheads.
For me, this is finally a time when it's your ability to
reinterpret what Britain is that suddenly starts to count.
I think mid '90s really made its mark as Cool Britannia.
Music, fashion, culture. It was just a fantastic place to be.
Cool Britannia spread throughout, capturing the public imagination.
Everyone was just about doing stuff, getting stuff done,
getting stuff made and it made for this tremendous flowering of creativity.
On that basis, it's an important concept because it gave
legitimacy and status to all these young creative people who otherwise
might just have remained on the margins of society or culture.
The really key thing that happened
in the '90s was there was a massive art revolution.
Art was still something totally new.
Nobody knew what the boundaries were, how rich you could get,
how stupid you could be. I mean, it was brilliant.
# I could've stayed at home and gone to bed... #
There is Tracey Emin's bed which is
fantastically controversial because it's an unmade bed.
That's what it looks like, anyway.
It's actually a comment on all the ways that women have been
portrayed in art.
I don't think there's any point in me making
a painting that was already painted 50 years ago by someone else.
There's no point in making art which has already been made.
For example, you won't have a scientist reinventing penicillin.
It just won't happen.
The young British artist movement made stars out of working class
talent who captured the public's attention with their
upfront attitude and provocative images
Obviously, you have Damien Hirst and his shark which becomes the
iconic work of the '90s.
It's a beautiful, powerful, problematic and puzzling piece
of work so these figures, Damien especially, Tracey Emin,
become household names.
They go from being young, at some point impoverished art students,
to becoming fabulously famous.
At the beginning of the '90s, modern art was a complete joke.
It was written in italics or inverted commas whenever it
was referred to in the newspapers.
By the end of the '90s, Tate Modern was the most visited tourist
attraction in Britain.
Greater opportunities for everyone allowed Kate Moss to emerge
as one of the most successful supermodels.
Kate Moss is a prime example.
She's an absolutely brilliant model but she's not
a conventional model by any means.
Kate Moss is pretty much the icon of the '90s.
I think it's one of the few decades where it doesn't pay to be posh.
A fantastic journey for a working-class girl from Croydon.
Even from the day you start, it just takes a long time to realise that
you've got the option to say yes or no, to choose what you want to do.
And like me, she'd worked really hard to get there.
I just remember being a Watford girl,
just coming into London as a treat,
and driving in and thinking, wow, this is an amazing place.
And so I feel pretty, looking back,
pretty proud to have experienced being part of that.
# It's coming home It's coming home
# It's coming Football's coming home.
# We'll go on getting bad results Getting bad results... #
But Cool Britannia didn't just influence art and fashion and music,
it even found its way onto the football field.
# It's coming home It's coming
# Football's coming home. #
By some tremendous stroke of luck,
the European Championships arrived in England.
Everybody liked it, didn't they?
"Three Lions on a shirt, Jules Rimet still gleaming."
I mean, the lyrics were quite well turned.
And it was, by association, it was kind of a Britpop record.
MUSIC: Three Lions by The Lightning Seeds
'Tony Blair that autumn, I guess,
'when he makes his conference speech, just shamelessly takes it.'
Labour's coming home!
17 years of hurt never stopped us dreaming Labour's coming home!
By that point, it's like he was in power.
People look back and they forget that John Major lingered on.
In May 1997, with New Labour's landslide victory,
Tony Blair found himself in Number Ten.
We were away on tour at the time
but there was a real feel-good factor back home.
'I remember there were all those people,
'lots of Labour Party supporters waving little mini Union Jacks.'
And it just had this sense of something different,
something fresh, something new.
And this new Labour government will govern in the interests
of all our people, the whole of this nation, that I can promise you.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
'I mean, it was absolutely amazing when Tony Blair was elected,
'it really was.'
We suddenly got someone who was young, whose family was young,
who seemed quite young.
'It felt like an old generation had gone.'
Regardless of your politics,
one great thing about the new government was the number of women.
Girl power had arrived in Parliament.
'Suddenly, you know, 101 Labour women MPs,
'it was such a large number.'
And I suppose it was going to happen that they'd try and find
some way to give a badge to this.
And so the badge was Blair's Babes.
I have to say, at the time, I wasn't that fussed about it.
I was so over the moon about us winning a general election,
and it really spoke to women outside of politics as well.
And it was part of that sense that anything could happen.
I mean, obviously, going down to Parliament was so exciting.
It was like starting some sort of school
but it was like no school I'd ever been to.
It was like Hogwarts-plus sort of thing like this, that building.
And, at that time,
my favourite was the Texas song Say What You Want.
So, every time when my husband and I were driving into Westminster
in those first few weeks, we had the tape set up just for that track.
And, as we got round the corner of Parliament Square, we'd put it in
and that would be our theme tune as we went into Parliament.
# Well, you can say what you want But it won't change my mind
# I'll feel the same about you. #
-'The man who likes to hang around at number one
'reached Number Ten today.'
-Is Government going in the right direction, Noel?
'In the summer of 1997,
'their Britpop party reached Downing Street.'
Having Alistair Campbell who came from a newspaper background
to manage his spin, if you like, as it was called later,
was very, very important in both his victory and the way he performed.
I think one of the differences between the '90s
and maybe the '70s and '80s was the machinations of government
became more apparent.
There was a lot more visibility, there was much more transparency
in the way that politics was spun.
'Part of the spin thing is that we had had
'pretty much of a battering from sections of the media.'
So there was, if you like, message discipline
but it was from trying to make sure we did everything we could
to enable Labour to be seen as credible
and confident in what we were doing in government.
# I need some love like I've needed love before
# Wanna make love to ya, baby. #
'It was a time when everyone began to recognise
'the power of positive publicity.
'And it didn't do us any harm.'
'It was an amazing adventure for the Spice Girls
'who were travelling the world, constantly touring and promoting,
'rubbing shoulders with royalty
'and becoming the biggest selling girl group of all time.'
I'd joined Smash Hits as an editor.
And we'd get the charts faxed over, because it was the '90s,
and it would be, they were number one in 39 territories.
And you just go, what?!
They were having hits in countries they'd probably never heard of.
It was phenomenal.
For me, when I got my first fat cheque,
there was one thing that really epitomised, you know,
OK, freedom, optimism, and that was the little red car
that I'd envisioned when I was a child,
if you had that open-top car,
and that was one of the first things I went and bought.
The first thing I did was go and buy this very car
and I was like, wow, I've arrived!
And, for me, money represented freedom as well.
This car was like, yeah, you know,
I can have a say in my own destiny, this is it.
Whoo! SHE LAUGHS
MUSIC: Fastlove by George Michael
With Britain at the centre of the world
at the height of Cool Britannia,
tragic events in Paris reminded us of our own mortality.
-'Diana, Princess of Wales, has died after a car crash in Paris.
'She was taken to hospital in the early hours of this morning.
'Surgeons tried to save her life for two hours
'but she died at four o'clock.'
One of the things that really struck me when Princess Diana died
was the outpour of grief.
And, you know, there was a huge amount of grief
that sort of flooded the nation.
Obviously, she embodied so many qualities that we all admired.
And the only thing I think that came positive out of it is that,
as a nation, everyone came together and was incredibly supportive
and very affectionate with each other in grieving.
'I mean, it was just, just so inexplicable, really.'
And, of course, a lot has been said since, but I think Tony,
the words he found on that day just seemed to speak to the country
and very much reflect people's sorrow
at what happened to this young mum.
And I was a young mum, and I could identify with that as well.
She was a wonderful and a warm human being.
Though her own life was often sadly touched by tragedy,
she touched the lives of so many others
in Britain, throughout the world, with joy and with comfort.
She was the People's Princess. And that's how she will remain,
in our hearts and in our memories forever.
'Princess Diana's death had a huge impact on everyone, including me.
'It was this, followed by a visit to South Africa
'for an inspiring meeting with Nelson Mandela
'that made me reflect on my own path in life.'
'I think meeting Mandela, it was one of those,
'an absolute privileged moment.'
He was charming and gracious and humble and welcoming.
So, to be able to have met that man of that stature was just amazing.
You're as young as the girl you feel, and I'm 25!
'So, when I got back to the UK,
'I made the biggest decision of my young life.'
After days of speculation, Geri Halliwell,
otherwise known as Ginger Spice, has confirmed
that she has left the Spice Girls.
'At the age of 25, it was hard leaving the band.
'It had been an incredible experience for a Watford girl.
'But my Spice Girl journey had come to an end.'
I've found in life,
when you're going through a series of challenges,
you find out two things.
One is what you're made of,
and who really are your good, true friends.
And I think, you know,
there was a period of time after I'd left the Spice Girls,
and I was really needing a little support and direction,
and I found a really good friend, and that was George Michael.
'He said to me, "Do you want to come to my house for the weekend?"'
And I'd met him a few times and, by then,
I'd realised I'm not his kind of girl,
I'm not for him, it wasn't going to happen.
But instead he became a really good friend.
And he said, "Come and stay with me."
So I did, and I stayed quite a while.
I don't know if I overstayed my welcome but I did stay.
# Oh, but I need some time off from that emotion
# Time to pick my heart up off the floor. #
They always say, be careful about meeting your idols
because they never can live up to what you think.
But actually he became something better.
'For me, there's one track that really captures George at his best.
'It has to be Freedom. I really love this song.'
# I will not give you up
# Gotta have some faith in the sound
# It's the one good thing that I've got
# I won't let you down So please don't give me up. #
'During the making of this documentary,
'I heard the sad news that George had passed away.
'As well as a great artist,
'he was kind and generous,
'he loved his family, and was a good friend.
'I'll never forget him.'
MUSIC: Freedom by George Michael
'In the summer of 1998,
'I started to take decisions about life after the Spice Girls
'and sell off some of my most treasured possessions to charity.'
I was moving on from the band,
and I wanted to say, "This is a fresh start."
And I thought maybe we could do some good
about all the things I'd accumulated,
so I sold off some of my clothes for charity, and that car.
And it was one of those things, you know, it felt, yes, very cleansing.
But, I think, I was always a little bit nostalgic
and a little bit regretful, if I'm honest.
And I would always harp on about it and think,
"Oh, that was such a cute car."
'I accepted the invitation to become a goodwill ambassador
'for the United Nations,
'educating young women around the world on sexual health.'
I believe that everybody deserves to have control of their life,
and that means having control over your fertility.
'What I learnt was that most people want to be heard,
'and we all deserve education.
'And when you give people education, it gives them choices.'
And you can bring the world's press with you and go,
"Look, I don't know the answers but look at this."
And suddenly I saw the government might change a policy
for some school kids that wanted education on reproduction.
So I was very proud to be able to do something positive.
-'The issues raised by Geri Halliwell today
'will be discussed at a special UN conference later in the year.'
'And I was incredibly honoured and extremely nervous
'when asked to sing at Prince Charles' 50th birthday.'
# Happy birthday to you
# Happy birthday to you
# Happy birthday, your Royal Highness
# Happy birthday to you! #
'When you're a young age, it's very enchanting to meet royalty.'
So, singing to him, I just felt privileged and delighted to do it.
Of course, you know, it makes your mother proud!
He was fantastic.
First, because I have always loved the Royal Family,
because it's stability in the country.
So, when she did that and she saw in her mind it was Marilyn Monroe,
I thought, I don't know about Prince Charles, what he thought he was,
it's Kennedy, I suppose.
But, in the fantasy world, it was fantastic.
I'll never ever forget about that, it was very good.
MUSIC: Jumpin' Jumpin' by Destiny's Child
'The '90s might be best remembered for the Spice Girls,
'rave, boybands, Britpop and Cool Britannia,
'but it also saw the emergence of many strong female artists.
'Independent women in charge of their own destinies.'
I think society goes through waves. It's like a pendulum that swings.
And suddenly we had a real flush of great female artists.
And normally when it comes out, it comes out very proud.
The Spice Girls opened the barn door for other women to come through.
And you really can't underestimate what they've done in terms of
just allowing other women to find a voice, have a voice.
'Deep down, I was scared to go solo.
'With a clutch of new songs I'd written,
'in 1998, I joined up again with producers Paul and Andy
'from Absolute who'd worked with me in the Spice Girls.
'I wrote and recorded my debut solo album
'back at the old studio on the Thames.
'It's now a windows factory.'
Oh, my God!
-Do you remember any of it?
-Yeah, I do, but obviously it's changed.
-There used to be a pool table there.
-Pool table, yes.
It's like the chill-out bit with everyone hanging out.
We used to have all our discs on the wall there.
-That sounds pretentious, but, yeah!
Didn't we used to have all our platinum discs there!
'We had a blind optimism that
'she would be accepted because of who she was.'
And that people would accept what she did musically.
And it turned out we were right in that respect.
-This is where we used to do all the writing.
-Oh, my God.
We had a computer down there, a mixing desk there,
speakers at the back. Sofa.
-OK, I'm being transported back.
-Yeah, oh, my God.
Every day, we'd just go to the studio, write,
and it was just a really liberating, freeing thing to do.
She would come in and go, I want a bit of this, a bit of this,
listen to this, listen to this, listen to this!
-You'd usually want it all in one song, about 35 different ideas.
The reality is, we'd be going, how the hell are we going to do this?
Hence the title of the album became Schizophonic because it changes,
-it was all over the place.
-It was so all over the place.
The album was called Schizophonic.
And it kind of meant, it means split sound.
But actually it was saying, there's two sides of me.
And Look At Me, the first song, was very much about saying,
look at me, but actually can we really see?
Really look at me. Not just on face value.
# Look at me
# You can take it all because this face is free
# Maybe next time use your eyes and look at me. #
'I think my most creative memory of that whole album
'was just the production of Look At Me.'
It was like a revolving door of musicians and ideas.
# I can even do reality. #
It was just the track we all fell in love with off the album,
and got the most excited about writing.
'Then we got to the middle eight and thought,
'I don't know what we're going to do.
'Geri was like, I do know what I'm doing in the video.
'I'm going to kill Ginger Spice.
'I want the middle eight to be all about the death of Ginger Spice.'
-That's the vocal booth.
This is where I would have my emotional moment, "I'm scared."
I'm sure I made you cry a few times.
Yeah, I'm sure I cried a couple of times.
Because you feel vulnerable when you're singing
and putting yourself out there.
You know, I was scared. There was always a little bit of scepticism.
And so when it did well, it was just so validating
and brilliant to feel that connection with people.
This next lady took a huge risk going solo, but what a result.
She's just done the treble, she's back on top, it's Geri! See ya.
# Take me back to my sweet lavida
# Find my love, my dolce vita. #
'I was thrilled by the success of the album.
'Mi Chico Latino was inspired by my Spanish roots.
'Thank God I followed my heart. It got me four number one records.'
Geri burned really brightly really quickly
and she did some really smart videos,
in a time when video really mattered.
'She was really good at making herself relevant the whole time.'
And she Geri'd it up.
When a new millennium arrived, Britain celebrated in style.
Looking back on the '90s, the world had changed so much
in so many different ways, it had been a magical decade for me.
One of real opportunities, and I still feel that, in many ways,
it was such a positive time to be young and British.
The '90s for me were incredibly exciting
because a lot of alternative, interesting, artistic people
came through and made their mark,
and they changed things, they really did change things.
The values involved at that time were all about possibility,
were all about openness.
I think, for those reasons, it's important to celebrate the '90s.
It was probably the last great opportunity to be ridiculous
and get away with it.
'What better way to end my decade,
'celebrating femininity, and with humour, at the 2000 Brit Awards.'
'I don't think we knew much about the actual Brit performance.
-'We were invited.
-She did tell us a bit about it.'
She said, "You're going to be quite surprised what I'm going to do."
I think she kept it from us, yes, so it was like...
I don't remember, but kind of going, look, a big pair of legs,
and Geri's going to come flying out of a vagina!
On top of that, she's pole dancing.
So, it's like... It wasn't subtle, that's for sure.
# Cos men are from Venus And girls are from Mars. #
# Bag it up, don't drop the baby Boot it up, no buts or maybe
# Wind him up, and make him crazy Whoa! #
I think it's important to be able to have humour.
I think it's a very British way to sort of get through
some of the painful stuff, to laugh at yourself.
You think, "Oh, God, you're taking yourself way too seriously, love,
"get over it."
So, I think, that album, for me, was a really good reminder that,
just be honest, be yourself, get on with it.
It was a good end to that decade.
'We've come a long way.
'That little kid with a red car.
'The little girl who became Ginger Spice.'
It is absolutely, it is nothing like anyone imagined.
It's not glamorous at all.
'But I've realised, however much we've changed over the years,
'we're still the same people at heart.
'I guess this journey back in time has helped me look forwards too,
'towards the road ahead, and the next stage of my life,
'and making more music.
'And, if there's one thing that will always remind me of the '90s,
'it's this, the little red car I dreamed of as a child.'
On my birthday,
my lovely husband found the very car.
I think it was 17 years later since I sold it.
The guy that had bought it in Yorkshire had still got it.
I swear to you, I started crying when I saw it.
I couldn't believe it.
'This car represents a '90s dream, the freedom.'
And this little MGB Roadster is me. I just love it.
Former Spice Girl Geri Horner looks back on the 1990s and reflects on her own incredible journey from working-class Watford girl to international superstar. She describes it as a decade of hope and opportunity that gave young people the freedom to be themselves and break down barriers.
Set against a backdrop of great political and social change, including the release of Nelson Mandela, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the election of New Labour, the 1990s was also a decade which saw a homegrown cultural revolution. The music and art scenes exploded, and suddenly Britain was the place to be. Britpop and girl power conquered the charts, and Geri herself became the iconic face of Cool Britannia in her famous Union Jack dress.
But fame didn't arrive until the mid-1990s for Geri, and she reflects on the key events that shaped her life before becoming part of one of the most successful girl bands of all time. She talks movingly about her close friendship with her pop idol pin-up George Michael and recalls how supportive he was when she left the Spice Girls and embarked on her solo career.