Still a party but without S Club

IT was supposed to be an S Club party to remember but fans were left upset when the biggest band on the bill at Ipswich's Children in Need concert failed to perform.

By Jo Macdonald

IT was supposed to be an S Club party to remember but fans were left upset when the biggest band on the bill at Ipswich's Children in Need concert failed to perform.

Thousands of pop lovers packed into the car park opposite Ipswich Town Football ground in Portman Road last night excited about the prospect of seeing some of their favourite popstars perform.

But excitement turned to disappointment when it was announced S Club would be unable to perform because members Tina and Hannah, who hails from Norfolk, were ill.

Remaining members Rachel, Jon, Bradley and Jo, who has also been advised not to perform because of a back injury, were still at the event to show their support for Children in Need.

However, their appearance was cut down to a short interview with the BBC's Suzy Perry, who had replaced Philippa Forrester, when the event went live on BBC1.

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And although they broke the bad news during the broadcast it could not be heard over the speakers in Ipswich leaving the crowd unaware that the band they were eagerly waiting for would not be taking to the main stage.

At a press conference after their brief appearance S Club apologised that they had been forced to let down their fans.

Jon said: "We want to say a massive sorry to Ipswich that we couldn't perform after we told everyone we were coming.

"But we wanted to come down today anyway to show our support."

And they said they would love to come back this way to perform for their fans in the region.

Mentioning their forthcoming tour, Rachel said: "It would be cool to come back here and we'll be somewhere close to Ipswich if not actually here."

They also took the opportunity to reassure fans that, despite constant rumours, they will not be splitting up.

"We're supposed to have been splitting up for the last two years," Jon said. "We can't split up though because we've got so much going on."

Disappointed Helen Boyden had travelled all the way from Colchester with her friends and their children. There were nine disappointed faces as Dylan, seven, Scarlett, nine, Megan, five, eight-year-olds Thea, Georgina, Amy and Georgia, Josh, five, and three-year-old Willow heard the news that their favourite band would not be playing.

Helen said: "I cannot believe it as we have come such a long way just for S Club. But we have had a good time with S Club Juniors. They were brilliant but all the girls love S Club."

Little Georgia agreed, saying: "I think they are the best people so it is really disappointing they are not going to sing."

Paul Mooney, who brought his five-year-old daughter Clare and son Connor, eight, from Framlingham to catch the group, was more philosophical about the disappointment.

He said: "We took the children because of S Club but if someone is ill then they are ill. At the end of the day it was going to be a late night for the children so if they are not playing we can get them back and in bed at a reasonable time."

While the S Club seniors may not have been able to perform at the region's Children in Need celebrations, the Juniors were able to put on a great show for their fans.

The eight-piece group kicked things off shortly after 7pm with performances of their hits, One Step Closer To Heaven and New Direction.

And when Ipswich went live to the nation about 20 minutes later they had the crowd swaying in time to their forthcoming single, a cover of Puppy Love.

Dressed in warm coats and hats and waving to the crowd it was clear they were having a good time and when interviewed by BBC Radio Suffolk's Mark Murphy, who was compering the event, S Club Juniors' Hannah said: "It's really good to be here. The audience is great."

Pop Idol's Sarah Whatmore, braving the cold in an orange sleeveless top, also got the crowd going as she brought the live feed to a close.

And four-piece girl band Charli, Essex boy band Heat and Ipswich's own Rosco also helped ensure that even without a performance by S Club, the crowd would be entertained and given a great show.

Throughout the three-hour event local fundraisers were given the chance to present their cheques and help boost the Children in Need total.

And Ipswich mayor, Richard Risebrow, was at the event to do his bit. He sacrificed his beard for the charity as it was shaved off live on BBC Look East.

Weblink: www.bbc.co.uk/pudsey

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