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never forget Ex-Girls Aloud star Nadine Coyle says 'Passportgate' still follows her around

Twenty years after shooting to fame on Popstars, Nadine Coyle is back with a brand new TV talent hunt.

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Nadine Coyle is going back to her TV talent hunt roots on Last Singer Standing.

Nadine Coyle is going back to her TV talent hunt roots on Last Singer Standing.

Nadine Coyle is going back to her TV talent hunt roots on Last Singer Standing.

SHE’S one of the world’s most famous Derry girls — and Nadine Coyle is doing little to dash hopes she’s poised to make it formal by appearing in the upcoming final series of the cult comedy of the same name.

Well...” she teases Sunday World's Magazine+ into thinking she’s about to spill the tea about the hotly-rumoured cameo, before expertly swerving: “I love Derry Girls, I have to say.

“It’s based on the all-girls Catholic grammar school I went to.

" I think Lisa McGee, the writer, is a year or two older than me, so it’s basically what we all experienced going to school.

“It’s great to even watch as someone who’s been through that experience,” she adds. “I remember soldiers getting on the bus and looking through your bags.

“You just assume that it’s normal until you watch it, and it’s done in this comedy way, and think, ‘Ah, that doesn’t look right at all!’ So I would absolutely love if something came up in Derry Girls for me.”

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Nadine with fellow panellists Samantha Mumba, Joey Fatone and host Nicky Byrne.

Nadine with fellow panellists Samantha Mumba, Joey Fatone and host Nicky Byrne.

Nadine with fellow panellists Samantha Mumba, Joey Fatone and host Nicky Byrne.

Fans were doing more mental arithmetic than the singer when she famously fibbed about her date of birth on Popstars after she pulled out of Wolverhampton Pride last month to film “a TV show in Ireland”.

Whether the scheduling clash had to do with joining Erin, Clare, Michelle and Orla’s gang as filming got underway in the Walled City — or just her new RTÉ show Last Singer Standing — remains to be seen.

Some numbers that are a little easier to crunch are that it’s a full 20 years since Nadine’s passport memorably went “missing” after she accidentally admitted to being just 16 years-old on the 2001 reality TV show that gave rise to Irish pop group Six.

“At times you do think it’s flown,” says Nadine, who later found global fame with Girls Aloud, “and at other times you think it’s a lifetime ago.

“I’m past the point now [where] I’ve been in London, and lived in America for a while, longer than I ever was in Derry.

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"And it’s just so mad that I’ve been longer on this side than from birth to schooling to starting singing.”

For all her amazing achievements since then, including clocking up four number ones with the glamorous girl group, who tragically recently lost bandmate Sarah Harding to breast cancer, Nadine jokes it’s ‘Passportgate’ that still follows her around.

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Nadine with Girls Aloud, and bestie Sarah Harding, who died last month.

Nadine with Girls Aloud, and bestie Sarah Harding, who died last month.

Nadine with Girls Aloud, and bestie Sarah Harding, who died last month.

“Och, it’s grand,” she laughs of the watercooler moment, which as recently as January, got the Michael Fry ‘indie cover’ treatment on Twitter.

“Jeepers, it’s all part of the story, and you know, really it was a much better fit for me, being in Girls Aloud than being in that band.

“There’s a plate, it says ‘Never Forget’ and it’s a picture of me with the date of birth, and some fans gave it to me at one point. They were selling them at a market, I was like, ‘You have got to be joking’.

“But it is funny.

"There’s a passport Halloween costume and I tried to get my hands on one and dress up as it one year. I just will be my own passport picture for Halloween always. It’s nice and handy!”

Understandably, just seven weeks after losing her best pal to cancer at just 39, her grief is too raw to speak about the woman she described as a “shining light” and “inspiration” on Instagram.

Yet it’s clear the devastating loss has thrown the topic of birthdays, milestone or otherwise, into sharp focus for the 36 year-old mum of one.

“Do you know what, I honestly have no issue getting older,” shares Nadine, whose journey so far has also seen her survive the I’m a Celebrity... jungle.

“I think it’s always been a pleasure, really, because you’re kind of happy to get to another year.

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Nadine with ex Jason Bell and daughter Anaiya.

Nadine with ex Jason Bell and daughter Anaiya.

Nadine with ex Jason Bell and daughter Anaiya.

“There’s so many things can happen, there’s so much tragedy that happens, so I’m quite happy to get older. I’m fine with that.”

After hunkering down in Donegal with ex-fiancé Jason Bell (leaving us all wondering if it’s Strictly platonic) and their 7 year-old daughter, Anaiya, during lockdown, it was last night back to the spotlight for the London-based star as Last Singer Standing kicked off on RTÉ One.

“Remain calm” is the reality TV alumna’s biggest nugget of wisdom for the hopefuls vying to win 25,000 on the singing game show, though she admits she struggled to do just that when faced with teen idol and fellow Pop Panelist Joey Fatone.

“I was a huge NSYNC fan,” admits Nadine, who became a member of Girls Aloud on Popstars: The Rivals in 2002.

“I knew all the NSYNC songs, had their albums, watched their performances and award shows. I couldn’t believe it that Joey was just right there.

"He was such a huge part of my teenage years being such a huge fan. I was trying not to fangirl. I was trying to be super cool about it.”

Hot on the heels of The Masked Singer and The Big Deal, the show presented by Nicky Byrne proves that, despite the demise of The X Factor, TV talent hunts are still on song.

And Nadine said she wouldn’t be surprised to see a very familiar face try to wow the judges in years to come.

“Anaiya is funny,” she reveals. “She’s got all these notions, like with The Masked Singer, she’s like, ‘They should do The Masked Singer Kids and I would dress up as a bunny or I would be an Easter egg’.

“And then with Strictly Come Dancing, she’s like, ‘If I was to do Strictly I would definitely be one of the professionals’.

“She’s definitely got the confidence for it, so if she does, I’ll be like, ‘OK, great’ — I’ll just be the ultimate momager. Kris Jenner, eat your heart out!”

Last Singer Standing continues on RTÉ One on Saturday, October 30 at 8.30pm

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