Since finding fame as part of S Club 7 in 1999, Tina Barrett has grown from being a pop starlet who lived in the limelight to a strong mother who is protective of her private life.
But when we speak to the star, she’s ready to exclusively reveal to OK! the turmoil she’s endured in the past two years over the end of her relationship with Paul Cashmore, star of Channel 4’s Hunted.
We last caught up with Tina four years ago, after she and Paul had just welcomed son Roman. She made the heartbreaking decision to leave him after six years in 2019 – and Paul is now dating his Hunted co-star Jill Mellor.
S Club 7 star Tina Barrett explains why she had to walk away from band member and ex Paul “Walking away from our relationship was so hard, it felt like my whole world caved in,” she sobs.
Tina, 44, faced more heartache when her dad Edward died from a stroke. But despite feeling devastated and overwhelmed, she soldiered on to release solo singles including Private Dance Instructor and decided to move into her family home in West Sussex to support mum Cheryl. “You never get over the loss of a parent,” says Tina. “We’ve told Roman that Grandad is up in the stars looking down and he has accepted that.”
Here, Tina tells of the strength it took to walk away from the man she thought she’d marry and her amazing bond with her son…
Hi Tina. How is Roman?
He doesn’t stop! I’m an only child and haven’t got much experience with bringing up young boys. They just run riot and really keep you on your toes [laughs]. Homeschooling is not fun, though!
Tell us more…
Getting your child to do work is a battle. I spend the day with him saying he doesn’t want to do the work and I end up chasing him around. It’s a nightmare and there’s lots of tears. I know a lot of parents have hired tutors and I totally understand why.
Would you consider a tutor for Roman?
Possibly! We’re muddling through at the moment but I wouldn’t rule it out.
How have you found co-parenting?
Well, me and his dad are friends. We were together a long time and some things just don’t work out. Walking away was one of the hardest decisions I have had to make. But it was better we went our separate ways. Paul sees Roman a lot and we’ve kept it amicable. I would just hate Roman not to have his dad in his life, just because of what’s happened between us. It just wouldn’t be fair on him – you’ve got to make it work for your child.
It sounds like you went through a tough break-up?
Oh, totally! It was. When you have a baby, you have the future mapped out – and then when that doesn’t happen, it’s like your whole world caves in. I had to decide whether to carry on when it’s not working or end it. Looking back, we did the right thing. The worst thing is clinging on to something when you know it’s not right. It’s heartbreaking.
Why did the relationship end?
[Sighs] I guess people change. You have to put the work in for a relationship and, unfortunately, sometimes that doesn’t happen. It’s awful when you break up and when there’s children involved. But people pick themselves up and carry on. That’s what you’ve got to do. It’s definitely tested me, I never thought I’d be in this position. But I am and I’ve carried on. I’ve been blessed with the most beautiful, intelligent, bright little boy. So I feel good that I got through it.
What did you do to help yourself through such a difficult time?
Well, to be honest, at the time it was really hard and then my dad passed away not long afterwards. Sorry… [Tina starts to cry].
Hannah Spearritt and Rachel Stevens stayed in the limelight after the band parted ways. What made you go down a different path?
I wanted a break. Afterwards, I was so exhausted and I was desperate to do something more creative. I did some songwriting for a long time and travelled a lot. Then, about five years ago, Jo [O’Meara] was contacting me a lot asking me to join them touring as S Club 3, which was great!
I was facing a break-up and my dad passed, so no. I was just going through too much myself. I’m always here for Paul. It is hard when you see someone you’ve worked with look like they’re struggling. But Paul has a good family and he’s fine. It’s just the pressure. It’s a microscope industry and people expect you to be perfect. But 99% of the time that’s not the case and when people see that, they become a critic. At the end of the day, we are human.
Does Roman understand your fame?
I thought with it being a while since we were together as a band in the charts, it wouldn’t be a thing to him. But it is! If he hears us on the radio, he says, “Oh, that’s Mummy’s song.” He loves it.
Would you like it if he followed in your footsteps as a singer?
Oh, definitely. But he’s quite academic, so I think he might get a proper job! But I’d support whatever he wants to do. As long as he’s happy, that’s enough for me!