Page last updated at 18:16 GMT, Thursday, 11 March 2010

Profile: Mark Owen

BBC News entertainment reporter Fiona Pryor looks at the career of Take That star Mark Owen, after he admitted to several infidelities during his relationship with his wife.

Mark Owen
Mark Owen launched a solo career after Take That

If it hadn't been for a sport injury, Mark Owen might never have entered the music industry.

His childhood dream was to become a professional football player, and he briefly played for Chadderton FC before auditioning for Take That.

Pop impresario Nigel Martin-Smith spotted his potential and signed him up for the boyband, which he envisaged as the UK's version of New Kids On The Block, in 1990.

Owen, then 18, was joined by songwriter Gary Barlow, dancers Jason Orange and Howard Donald - and a last-minute addition, Robbie Williams.

The five-piece did not set the charts alight instantly - and spent several years building an audience around the UK, playing schools by day and gay clubs by night.

Meanwhile, they created a stir in the industry with an early video for Do What U Like, which saw the quintet cavorting naked in a plain white studio throwing jelly at each other.

To this day, the footage is still bought up in interviews to embarrass them.

It took until 1992 for the group to score their first top 10 hits - with It Only Takes A Minute closely followed by A Million Love Songs.

By the time Could It Be Magic went to number three a year later, teenage girls up and down the country had already chosen their favourite member.

Owen was the clean cut pin-up, with a sparkle in his eye and a faint, but endearing, lisp.

Although Barlow was the main singer, Martin-Smith soon realised he needed to capitalise on Owen's popularity - and the singer was pushed to the front for Babe (a song about discovering a secret lovechild), which went straight to number one.

Going solo

For three years, it seemed Take That could do no wrong, but the pressure soon started to show - most obviously on Williams, who abruptly pulled out of a scheduled appearance at the MTV awards and was later seen hanging out with Oasis at Glastonbury.

After a series of confrontations, he quit later that year - and the band disintegrated within a year.

Take That
Take That's comeback was hugely successful

Thousands of young women were so distraught at the news that a telephone helpline was set up.

After the split the remaining band members went their separate ways, with Barlow and Owen launching their own solo careers.

Owen's debut single Child showcased a more acoustic, psychedelic sound than his Hi-NRG Take That hits. It went to number three, followed by Clementine, which reached the same position.

But his album Green Man charted at a disappointing 33, followed by the single I Am What I Am, which limped into the charts at 29.

It was not long before he was dropped by his record company.

After several years out of the public eye, Owen appeared in the Celebrity Big Brother house in 2002.

His laid back attitude and ability to get on with his other housemates saw him win the series and - on hearing the news that he had come first - he broke down in tears.

At the time fellow housemate and runner-up Les Dennis described the singer's aura as "fantastic".

Band 'closure'

With his renewed popularity off the back of Big Brother - boosted by an onstage reunion with Williams at his record-breaking Knebworth shows - Owen returned to music.

After signing another record deal he released the jagged, rocky Four Minute Warning, which went to number five.

But history repeated itself when his second album, In Your Own Time, failed to make the top 40 and the star again found himself without a record deal.

A year later the star launched is own record company and in 2005 released his third solo album, How the Mighty Fall.

But the record was overlooked as Owen - along with Barlow, Donald and Orange - were working on a behind-the-scenes documentary reflecting on their 1990s heyday.

Mark Owen
Owen was one of the most popular Take That members

The one-off episode, combined with a greatest hits album, reignited interest in the group and the quartet announced they were reforming for a reunion tour - 10 years after they split.

At the time Owen told BBC News that he could not believe how loyal their fans had been.

"This whole year has been more than any of us expected. We're just being taken by surprise at the moment," he said.

The star insisted that getting back together had never crossed any of their minds when they took part in the documentary.

"We'd all tried to move on with our lives and do different things. So going back to that documentary we were all thinking we might get some closure from it to move on from that."

As Owen's career started to take off again, his personal life changed too, as he became a dad for the first time in 2006 to Elwood Jack Owen.

Two years later his partner Emma Ferguson gave birth to their first daughter, Willow Rose Owen.

After fans in their thousands welcomed the group back, they returned to the recording studio, to work on new material - this time with Owen contributing tracks alongside Barlow.

Their comeback album Beautiful World charted at number one, and Shine - the ELO-inspired single with Owen on lead vocals - became one of the defining hits of their comeback.

Last year the singer married Ferguson, his partner of five years, in Scotland.

The star's confession of infidelity was published in The Sun on Thursday, with the singer stressing he had remained faithful since his wedding.

Expressing regret, he said he had been "living with the guilt" and asked the media to respect his family's privacy.

"I wouldn't have done any of this if I had my time again," he told the newspaper.

"I am halfway through my life now and this, in a way, is a lesson. You've got to learn and that's what I am going to do."



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