Scary X Factor judge Melanie B insists she has a softer side to her character. Maybe she does, but she’s not showing it off today.
We’re in Cancun, Mexico, for the Judges’ Houses stage of the show and Mel is being typically blunt. With her band of hopeful boy contestants she is open and honest, interrupting them during their songs and giving them good, constructive pointers.
With me, the visiting reporter, her answers are curt and to the point. For example, she has lived abroad for 15 years following a bitter feud with her family. When I ask if she misses Britain she says: “I go back to England so often for work that I’m not away from it enough to miss it.” Subject closed.
In fact Mel, 39, is moving back here for three months for The X Factor’s live stages. She’s bringing her three kids and her American husband Stephen Belafonte, 38, the man her sister Danielle accuses of tearing the family apart.
Mel’s mum Andrea, 58, is desperate to end the feud and repair relations, particularly while the three grandchildren are in the country. But it doesn’t seems likely.
All ties were severed following an argument in 2007 when Mel and Stephen renewed their wedding vows amid claims he had driven a wedge between his wife and her folks back in Leeds.
In 2012 Danielle, now 33, added fuel to the bitter row when she said: “I would never tell her to leave him. She can be with whoever she wants to be with, even if we find him controlling and not a nice person.”
And dad Martin, 60, added: “I just want to speak to her so I know those children are happy. If she wants this strange relationship, that’s her choice.
“She’s my daughter and I love her to bits.”
But when I mention Stephen’s name to Mel in Mexico, she lights up with smiles. And quickly denies Danielle’s accusation that Stephen is “controlling”.
“My husband let’s me get on with whatever I want to do,” she says.
Stephen is not among the X Factor entourage in Cancun but it does include Mel’s old Spice Girl bandmate Emma Bunton, who is helping her to decide which of her six boys will make the final stages.
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