The Big Reunion was one of the surprise pop culture highlights of 2013, shining a light on the often difficult road faced by mid-level pop stars in the years after the spotlight fades.
It succeeded in making Kerry Katona appear sympathetic, introduced the world to the uniquely brilliant world view of Abs(z) from Five, and put The Honeyz at the centre of two massive UK arena tours.
In the grand tradition of sequels, Big Reunion II – which kicks off on ITV2 tonight – offers more of the same, but with a few twists. So we’ve got the usual collection of fondly remembered pop groups of yesteryear (Eternal, A1), a few slightly less anticipated comebacks (Girl Thing, really? Were N-Tyce busy?) and the introduction of the first Big Reunion Supergroup – featuring chart-gobbling solo artistes Dane Bowers, Gareth Gates, 'The Best Thing' hitmaker Adam Rickitt, Kenzie from Blazin' Squad and Kavana.
I'm not psychic or anything, but here are seven things likely to happen over the next few weeks or so.
Obviously there will be drama
Whether it’s Eternal’s Kelle Bryan confronting the Bennett sisters about the time they used a fax machine to inform her that her services were no longer required, or Emma Bunton being named as the Yoko Ono of the Damage story, expect enough tears, tantrums and recriminations to make the last series of Celebrity Big Brother look like an episode of Call The Midwife.
Everyone will pretend they haven’t seen each other in years
Just as last year there was no mention of the ‘feuding’ B*Witched sisters dressing like a Lady Gaga tribute act and releasing an album together just months before the show, a failed Five reunion in 2012 or the fact that The Honeyz had been touring the University circuit for years, expect minor details like Eternal’s aborted 2006 comeback tour or the fact that A1 have been releasing albums exclusively for the Norwegian market for years to be conveniently glossed over.
There will be an intense confrontation with a traumatised missing band member
One of the highlights of last year’s show was a gripping scene in which J from Five – looking like he’d spent his post-fame years in a remote mountain retreat living off acai berries and witchetty grubs – was reunited with Abs to explain the dark secrets behind his refusal to rejoin the group. This year Correé from Damage, Paul from A1 and – most controversially — Louise from Eternal are all MIA. It’s bound to kick off.
Someone will be very bitter about never getting to sing lead
Every Destiny’s Child needs a Beyoncé, and as we learned in last year’s show, every B*Witched apparently needed an Edele – the focal/vocal point of the group, much to the annoyance of sister Keavy. Similarly, Atomic Kitten’s Natasha revealed that Kerry Katona ‘didn’t really do harmonies’. Will the likes of Kelle Bryan, TJ from 3T and the ones from Girl Thing who aren’t Jodi Albert still be content to stay in the background? Don’t count on it…
An eleventh-hour arrival will puts everyone’s nose out of joint
Let’s face it, once the feuding former bandmates have been put in a room together, hurled their accusations, cried a bit and hugged it out, the Big Reunion is in danger of flagging a little bit. Last year they added some additional drama by introducing the not-technically-separated Blue to the lineup, causing the original groups to mutter darkly about ‘arrogance’ and ‘putting the work in’. Could there be an All Saints, an S Club 7 or even an E-Male waiting in the wings this year to keep the ratings up?
The super group will be a complete train wreck
There’s a precedent for this Big Reunion super-group idea, and it’s called MTV Totally Boyband. That show featured Dane Bowers teaming up with Lee from Steps, Jimmy from 911, Bradley from S Club 7 and Danny from New Kids On The Block for a collective stab at returning to their former glories as Upper Street.
It didn’t end well.
Ultimately, it will be genuinely heart-warming television
Because for all the staged arguments, historical revisionism and drawn-out drama, the real highlight of the Big Reunion is the joy of watching a group of people getting one last chance to relive their dreams. God I’ve missed it.