Let's limp!

Evening Mail 2001

THEY travel the world staying in five star hotels and performing at some of the biggest venues across the globe but for Five's Ritchie Neville there really is nowhere quite like home.

So it was a happy and relatively relaxed Ritchie who joined me for a drink and a chat on home soil at a Birmingham hotel.

That was until he revealed the reason he was so laid back - he was unable to walk after tearing the ligaments in his foot in an accident during a dance rehearsal in Belgium!

"It was all J's fault," he says. "It had to be the heaviest member of the band who fell on me!"

But joking apart this injury could not have come at a worse time for Five whose new single Let's Dance sits atop the UK charts and whose album Kingsize is due for release soon.

With Sean also laid low with glandular fever the band has had to cancel a series of live appearances, including Party in the Park.

"Sean's not left us, he has just been really ill and he needs some rest to get over it," Ritchie assures me.

It also explains why Sean is missing from the band's video for Let's Dance and why he was replaced with a cardboard cut out.

Ritchie says: "The video is supposed to be tongue-in-cheek and a pop at the music industry so it made sense to have Sean featured as a cardboard cut it. It was great because we were able to pick him up and carry him everywhere!

"Most pop video's features Porches, Ferraris and bikini-clad women so we are are having a poke at them and at ourselves in the video. It is also a bit of a dig at other boy bands and was a lot of fun to make."

The single is the first track from the boys' third album which was initially entitled XL but has now been renamed Kingsize following the threat of legal action from a record company with the same name.

Ritchie says: "Basically we were going to be sued if we used the title so we came up with another one. We are not being big-headed saying Five are bigger or better that anyone else but we are saying that size matters! It has already been well marketed in Australia and Japan and we are getting great feedback on the name.

Ritchie who reveals he will be spending the the rest of his day in Birmingham having tea with his mum in Bromsgrove said he was proud of his city and amazed at how much it had changed every time he came home.

He says: "I do get stick from the lads for being a Brummie but I am very proud. My whole family live here - my sister in Kings Heath, my nan in Hall Green and my uncle in Knowle. I love to be back here."

Being home is also a novelty for a young man who at the tender age of 17 was whisked off into the limelight and put in a house with four other lads as Five.

Ritchie says: "We were the original Hear'Say. A band picked at audition and put together. There were many arguments in those first few months but they were also the best days with us all having fun and making friends.

"We all had quite different interests too to get used to. My love is Aston Villa and Nirvana, Scott is into basketball while Sean is into rugby and J doesn't follow sport but loves his music."

So was Ritchie's love of Villa a reason why the band chose the football club's anthem Queen's We Will Rock You as a single?

"That song is just the best. It gets everyone going and it is great to perform. When we were playing in Rio recently there were 250,000 fans clapping along with us. It was incredible! I can see why it gees up fans and players before a game. I just wish they would play the Five version instead."

So what can fans expect from the new album which features a range of dance, rock and ballads as well as a sample from the movie soundtrack Grease for the disco number Rock The Party.

He says: "There will be something for everyone on the album and although we have no dates yet for a tour we do hope to bring it live to our fans next year."

Leaving Ritchie, I watch as he hobbles off in search of beans on toast to nurse his ankle injury. Outside the revolving doors a gaggle of girl fans crane to sneak a peak at their hero.

Ritchie's foot had better heal soon or he will never be able to outrun them!