Her baby-doll dresses, pigtails and platform trainers have long gone. But it’s still a surprise to see what a sexy mature mum Baby Spice has turned into. When we meet, Emma Bunton looks ravishing in a stylish leather jacket, tight black jeans, big glasses and bright red heels.
And could it be that the Baby of the Spice Girls was not as sweet and innocent as we were led to believe? In a racy recent interview her former bandmate Mel B even hinted at threesomes and claimed that the world-conquering girl band spiced up their lives by snogging each other’s faces.
“Yes, I heard her say that she’d kissed all of us… has she kissed all of us?” responds Emma, collapsing into a fit of giggles. “Probably! It was just an extension of our friendship.”
Girl Power was all about loving and living on their own terms and, as Baby, Scary, Posh, Sporty and Ginger, the five Spice Girls inspired a whole generation of assertive young women.
From the moment their debut single Wannabe went to No?1 in 1996, to their split four years later they sold 80million records around the world but were never overtly sexual – unlike current stars such as Rihanna and Miley Cyrus.
Emma’s not comfortable with this shift of emphasis for female pop stars.
“Back in the day the Spice Girls were fun and sexy,” she says. “But we weren’t sexual. Now people do take that next step and put it out there a bit more with their videos and stuff.
“If that’s how someone wants to be and they’re confident enough to bare themselves then that’s completely down to them. But it’s something that I personally wouldn’t do.
“But I’m sure all this sexuality will be complained about and then it will be dropped again.”
For Emma, 37, being a mum to her sons Beau, six, and Tate, two, is her priority. Her solo pop career – she released three albums and had a string of Top 10 hits including What Took You So Long? – went on to the backburner after she started a family.
Now she hosts Heart FM’s breakfast show with Jamie Theakston and she’s been a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing, a judge on Dancing on Ice and a guest presenter on ITV shows including This Morning and Lorraine.
Next she’s hoping to reprise an old TV role on the big screen.
“I’ve been on the phone to Jennifer Saunders,” says Emma, plainly excitedly. “She’s spoken to me about maybe doing a film version of Absolutely Fabulous. I’ve no idea when it will happen but I’m usually Saffy’s friend in the show so if she offered me that part in the movie I’d definitely do it.
“They’ve had me saying all kinds of bizarre things in the TV version before though. Thankfully my boys are never up late enough to watch it.”
Apart from her third boy, that is. Her fiance Jade Jones, 34, was the lead singer in boyband Damage and they have been together for 14 years since meeting at a Manchester Arena gig. They got engaged two years ago.
“Fourteen years!” says Emma.
“That’s unheard of in showbiz. It’s hard to say why other celebrity relationships don’t seem to last because each one is different.
“But Jade and I have so much in common and we find each other funny, you know… it’s a good friendship. We do different things but really respect each other and he’s a wonderful hands-on dad too.”