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Girls Aloud: Off the Record

Girls Aloud: Off the Record is a six-part series recorded by Girls Aloud for E4 that started on April 11, 2006 at 10:30pm. It is a Monkey Kingdom production for Channel Four, and is 'onlined' at Bravo Post Production.

The series follows Girls Aloud in the buildup to their 2006 Chemistry arena tour, from appearing on TV shows to filming the "Whole Lotta History" video in Paris, promoting in Australia and New Zealand, doing promotional appearances in Ibiza and Greece, and going on an ambassadorial trip to China. The series also follows a selection of Girls Aloud's fans, including two Australian fans who spent all their money on tickets to Girls Aloud's Wembley show. The girls' personal lives were featured too - Ashley Cole appears in the first episode.

Girls Aloud: Off the Record was repeated on Channel 4 as of September 3, 2006. A DVD of the series was released on August 28, 2006. It was originally planned to be released on July 16 (as stated on Amazon.co.uk and HMV.co.uk), but was delayed to September, as stated on the Girls Aloud official site.

Episodes

Episode 1: April 11, 2006

The programme started with Cheryl going shopping at Bluewater with her mum Joan, with Cheryl talking about her arrest for assault in 2003, and the lessons she learned from the incident. Cheryl was then shown ready to go out to Julien Macdonald's show at London Fashion Week with Ashley, who wasn't too excited about being dragged to a fashion show. At the show, Cheryl had to promote Girls Aloud to various radio and television channels, some of whom had never heard of the band. After the show, Cheryl and Ashley were driven to a restaurant for a Valentine's Day meal, followed by paparazzi. Girls Aloud's tour manager Drew let the paparazzi take pictures of Cheryl and Ashley getting into the restaurant, saying they'd rather be photographed before a meal than after.

The next part started with the girls on a promotional visit to Ibiza, performing at a club night. They were then shown eating at a restaurant, where Sarah and Kimberley competed in a drinking game. Afterwards, the girls were shown relaxing by a pool in their bikinis at their private villa, when they spotted a photographer hiding in the bushes far away. The girls complained about this, but their manager Hillary Shaw said that part of the Girls Aloud package included being photographed in various situations, some of which not to their liking. Kimberley and Nadine then talked about various encounters with the paparazzi.

The girls were then shown getting ready to perform at , with their TV plugger talking about how important television is in promoting Girls Aloud. Hillary then talked about how Girls Aloud were snubbed by the BRIT Awards, leading to a segment where the Sugababes, who were also on CD:UK, came to talk to Girls Aloud about the Brits situation. This led to a funny moment where Cheryl thought that Amelle Berrabah's older sister was her mum. The cameras then went outside to talk to some of Girls Aloud's fans, and then it was shown how hours of preparation lead to just three minutes performing on TV.

Episode 2: April 18, 2006

This episode was mostly about the promotion of Girls Aloud's 12th single "Whole Lotta History", and all the work they have to do in order to make it a hit. First the girls were shown on a couple of TV shows, and then it was off to film the video in Paris. On the set, Cheryl didn't understand the French film crew, and the girls found it a bit cold during filming. The record label then looked at the video, and seemed to be a bit concerned that Sarah didn't appear solo in the video until a couple of minutes into the video. The girls were then shown the finished video, and Nicola didn't like it, saying that she looked pale and didn't have enough makeup on. The girls then said that "Whole Lotta History" deserved to be a Top 3 hit[in the corrected words Sarah said that it deserves to be in the top f...ing 3 no matter what anybody says]

Next, the girls were doing a magazine shoot for GQ, showcasing themselves as glitzy showgirls. Cheryl and Kimberley weren't too sure about their outfits, and said that they weren't too comfortable in doing the shoot. Sarah was also concerned about pictures of her that made her look like she was naked. During the shoot, Sarah's friend and rumoured lover Calum Best showed up to explain a story that had appeared in a newspaper that day about him saying bad things about Sarah. They then went away to discuss the story, and Sarah didn't look too happy coming back onto the shoot.

The girls were then shown doing a variety of TV shows, including GMTV, Davina and Holly & Stephen's Saturday Showdown, looking very tired through all the TV shows they had to be on in such a short time. During these shows, the girls were kept up to date on the midweek position of "Whole Lotta History", which started out at #9 and rose up to #5. Backstage at the shows, the girls discussed their figures and other insecurities, and Nicola took time out to get a facial. Backstage at Davina, the girls met Jordan and Peter Andre - Sarah was delighted to see Jordan again, whilst Cheryl, not exactly Jordan's best friend, seemed to be jealous of Jordan's figure.

At the end of the show, Nadine received a call from Radio 1 DJs Scott Mills and Tim Westwood, informing her that "Whole Lotta History" charted at #6, a position only Cheryl seemed to be satisfied with. The girls then started their rehearsals for the arena tour.

Episode 3: April 25, 2006

Hillary got the girls together to go through their schedule for the promotional tour of New Zealand and Australia, but Sarah was absent, having been to the hospital because of illness. However, when it came time to fly, Sarah was better and with the girls. Landing in New Zealand and recovering from the long flight, it was time for the first part of promotion. Polydor hired some local hair stylists and wardrobe people to style the girls for what they thought was a radio interview, but the staff turned up late. When they arrived, they ended up styling Nadine, Nicola and Sarah from the official wardrobe, with Cheryl having already gotten dressed in her own clothes (Kimberley had fallen ill). This led to a massive argument between Cheryl and the head stylist over the delay and the changed plans, which now included the girls going on TV instead of on the radio, with Cheryl fearing that she'd look out of place not dressed in wardrobe. This led to their first day of promotion running late.

The girls were next shown rehearsing for their first show of the tour, in a small theatre in Auckland. The girls got annoyed that Polydor had sent them the wrong backing tape for "Sound of the Underground", and there were more wardrobe problems. But when it was time for the show, and seeing the large crowd that had turned up, Girls Aloud were motivated to give a great performance for their New Zealand fans, who went away very impressed.

The next morning, it was time to fly to Sydney, Australia - and not too wisely, Cheryl had decided to launch an assault on Nadine's mini bar the night before. Having drunk three cocktails and wine, Cheryl proceeded to vomit on the nearest plant outside the hotel. Once in Sydney, the girls continued their promotion, going on various TV and radio shows, including one that most of their hardcore Australian fans came to see. We then met their biggest Australian fans, Emily and Lang, who won a competition to meet the girls at a visit to Taronga Zoo. At the zoo, the girls got close to the koalas and kangaroos, and Emily & Lang got close to the girls.

Relaxing by the pool after the promotion, Nadine got a phone call from Desperate Housewives actor Jesse Metcalfe, who invited her on a date. On the night Nadine was out with Jesse, the other girls went out to a bar in Sydney for a wild night of drinking, which finished early for Cheryl after the problems she had with drink a few days before. Kimberley, Nicola and Sarah continued their night of fun, partying without fear of being noticed, until Kimberley and Nicola went back to the hotel at 2am, leaving Sarah on her own to continue clubbing. The next morning, we found out that Nadine's date with Jesse went well and that he gave her a bouquet of flowers. The promotional tour was over with great success - Girls Aloud had entered the Top 30 of the Australian chart.

Episode 4: May 2, 2006

The Girls were in Athens for two corporate shows that are major paydays for the group. After having performed at the first show, the second show wasn't for another couple of days, so Sarah decided to fly back home to see her family, and then fly back to Athens for the second show. The other girls were bored doing nothing in their hotel, so their tour manager Drew decided to take them up to the highest vantage point in Athens - without the girls knowing where they were going. Unfortunately for Cheryl, she happened to be wearing spiked heeled shoes, which were not ideal for climbing up tall hills. Cheryl proceeded to moan her way up the hill, complaining about every small detail. Kimberley wasn't too happy either, saying that an experience like that would normally thrill her, but she didn't feel bothered about it. After they got back down the hill using a cable-car, they suddenly figured that they didn't know how to get back to their hotel, so they had to cram into a regular taxi - not exactly glamorous travel for Girls Aloud. To make up for a miserable trip, Drew took the Girls and their dancers to a Greek bar and restaurant, where they got drunk and merry, although according to Drew, not as much as usual.

Returning home, Nicola drove back to her home town of Runcorn to see her family. First she went to the local park to see her little brother Harry playing football for his local team, coached by their dad. Harry's team won the game, and Nicola in rather biased fashion gave the man of the match award to Harry, signing autographs for the other members of the team. Nicola then went home and cringed as she was shown old videos of her as a little girl. After that, she took Harry and her other younger brother Clayton to a restaurant for a day out, with Nicola talking about the importance of staying close to her family despite being famous, and valuing having a family to come back to when Girls Aloud finish.

The Girls then went to film the TV show Fifth Gear at Silverstone - where they got to race a car round the famous British Grand Prix track to see who got the fastest time. The girls all had fun doing this, and while it wasn't revealed which girl recorded the fastest time (the laps will be broadcast on the May 15, 2006 episode of Fifth Gear), the experience did excite Sarah enough to ask the producers and track officials if she could do a lap in their Ferrari F355. However, once she got in, she proceeded to smash the Ferrari right into a people carrier before she had even left the car park. Sarah then took off down the track unaware of exactly how much damage she had done. The other girls were in hysterics when Sarah came back and realised just what she had done.

Episode 5: May 9, 2006

The girls flew to Shanghai, China along with Mayor of London Ken Livingstone to help promote London in China. Upon arrival, Cheryl and Nicola already felt homesick, complaining about the rain, the culture and the Chinese toilets. Nadine and Sarah were more upbeat, looking forward to experiencing Shanghai as they visited a temple, unsure of exactly how to pray. After rehearsals for the big show the next night, the girls talked about how big it was that they were asked to represent London, showing how far they had come in four years. The next day, after a photocall with Ken Livingstone, Girls Aloud realised how popular the winner of Chinese Pop Idol was, with every fan at the venue there to see her, and hardly any of them knowing who Girls Aloud were. After the performance, Nadine felt it was the worst performance they had ever done, and the other girls weren't sure about it either, but both Livingstone and the other London officials loved the show, and felt that the project was a success.

The second half of the show focused on Kimberley and Cheryl going home - first we saw Kimberley returning to her home in London that she shares with her boyfriend Justin Scott, a singer with the boyband Triple 8. Whilst Kimberley was in Shanghai, Justin had bought some new furniture for their outside roof space overlooking London, which he installed with Kimberley. Justin then talked about what Kimberley is like at home and in Girls Aloud, and Kimberley then talked about how she has two homes in London and Bradford, and how she feels at home in both cities. Cheryl then went home to Newcastle-upon-Tyne for a flying visit with tour manager Drew. She only had five hours before she had to return to London, so first she spent a couple of hours with her dad and his partner. Her dad talked about how he doesn't feel like Cheryl on television is his daughter, but is definitely sure when Cheryl is home. After a meal there, Cheryl said her goodbyes and went to see her older brother and her two nephews, with a niece on the way. This visit wasn't as happy for Cheryl, as because she's been away from home so long, both her nephews didn't recognise her, and wouldn't hug or kiss her. To make matters worse, her brother's dog urinated on her top. Leaving her brother to go back to London, Cheryl talked about how hard it was to lead a family life when she spent so much time in London as part of her job, one of the many sacrifices she has to make being a part of Girls Aloud.

Episode 6: May 16, 2006

The final episode focused on the buildup to Girls Aloud's Chemistry Tour, which was a week away. The girls had a meeting at Polydor Records over the direction of the tour, but Nadine and Sarah didn't seem to be interested, and Cheryl mentioned how the meetings were holding up her wedding plans. An argument started between the girls, and filming was halted. Cheryl then spoke about how the other girls can sometimes get on her nerves when they're together for a very long period of time. The next day, the girls - minus Sarah - had a meeting with a costume designer, who talked Girls Aloud through some of the costumes they would be wearing on tour, but Nadine left the meeting halfway through. It turned out that Nadine and Sarah were homesick and wanted to see their mothers. Nadine's mum talked about how a psychic foresaw that Nadine would be a famous singer, and Sarah's mum talked about how Sarah was tired of going to nightclubs as a single girl, and wanted to settle down with a man.

After the meetings, Kimberley went back home to Bradford to see her family, helping her mum cook Sunday dinner complete with Yorkshire Puddings. Kimberley's big sister Sally talked about what it was like to have a major celebrity for a sister, and then the Walsh siblings (Kimberley, Sally, little sister Amy and brother Adam) all went out to Leeds for the night. Sally talked about how she feels protective of Kimberley when they're out in clubs, even though Kimberley was happy enough to mix with regular clubbers, having photos taken and signing autographs for fans. However, the bad side of mixing with regular people was also shown, with drunk people trying to get in her way, and other people shouting at her that "Girls Aloud are shite." Kimberley then talked about how to tolerate people who don't like the band. Cheryl was then shown having lunch with her fiancé Ashley Cole, talking about their wedding and future plans. They were then shown walking their dogs through a park, and Cheryl talked about how she saw Girls Aloud going for a few more years yet, but didn't imagine herself still on stage singing "Love Machine" in her 30s.

Rehearsals for the tour began, however, Nadine was away in New York City, and couldn't get back in time. The girls and their group of dancers were taken through the first two dance routines - for "Biology" and "Waiting" - by their choreographer. The girls were very excited about the rehearsals, realising that going on tour is their biggest dream, and their favourite thing about being in Girls Aloud, although they seemed to be mucking about during the rehearsals. The next day, Nadine finally showed up for her first rehearsal, where the girls learnt more routines, including one for a cover of the Kaiser Chiefs song "I Predict a Riot".

At the end of the show, the girls talked about what it was like to film the series. Nadine didn't take too kindly to the experience, saying that she never liked the idea of cameras following her around - which is understandable as Nadine had previously stated she is a very private person. She believed the group was incorrectly portrayed in a negative light in some parts the series. Cheryl thought that she could learn a few lessons about herself from watching the series, and Ashley seemed to enjoy it too. Kimberley, Nicola and Sarah all enjoyed the series, saying that they couldn't wait for it to come out on DVD so that they could show any future children what life was like for them in Britain's biggest girl band, Girls Aloud.

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