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'I was the Spice Girls' version of Woody in Toy Story'

Few shows put on a spectacle quite like BBC One's singing contest All Together Now, featuring head judge Geri Horner

By Gemma Dunn

She's played to sell-out arenas worldwide as a member of the Spice Girls, but Geri Horner admits she'd struggle to perform in front of The 100 on BBC One's new singing contest, All Together Now. The Saturday night show, presented by comedian Rob Beckett, will see a range of talented singers take to the stage in a bid to impress The 100, a unique jury panel of music experts and performers.

"I couldn't do it. Can you imagine what that feels like?" quips Geri (formerly Halliwell), who heads the jury panel.

"If I sing in front of you it's probably more nerve-racking, because with thousands and thousands of people it's not as instant. One hundred people - instant feedback. And you're standing there."

But there's a twist. If any of The 100 like what they hear, they can stand up, join in and sing along. The greater the number that join in, the higher the act's score. And, at the end of the series, one act will walk away with a £50,000 cash prize.

In particular, the fact that there's no big promise of a career - unlike rival talent shows - serves it well, says Geri (45).

"Every show has its place and there's room for it all. But this is a very poignant time. I think you put your finger to the wind: 'What are the people feeling right now?' And there's so much diversity in the world. There's anxiety, bad news and, actually, when I turn on the television, I just want it to be nice and happy for a minute.

"We're using music in a talent show, a bit of competition, but what really is going on is much bigger. You've got a reverend, you've got a rapper, you've got all different kinds of people from all different walks of life just coming together and just showing us, 'You know what? We're all right'."

All Together Now isn't the first time Geri has shared her expertise, however. Marking herself down as an honest and fair critic ("We don't want to take anyone down"), the Girl Power star has earned her stripes on Popstars: The Rivals, the X Factor and Australia's Got Talent. Though this time is different.

"No one's trying to give it the big guns. It's done with care and dignity, respectfully," she says, having revealed she penned a good luck card to each and every one of the show's 100. "That, to me, is a breath of fresh air.

"This whole experience has reminded me of being on tour with The Spice Girls, being part of something, giving someone an opportunity. It's not forever, but it's this moment to bring some lightness or joy. What's not to love?"

Did the process leave her itching to don the Union Flag dress once more?

"It was filling me up in a different way, because I love music, and I think, if you like music, you can appreciate any genre - from Moana to Nirvana. I like both.

"The other thing that was happening is during a break, we'd go 'Hey! We're going to sing I Dreamed A Dream' and then, suddenly, The 100 join in and make you sound brilliant, because they've got amazing harmonies. I was getting so much joy."

It could well be the only time fans get to hear the pop star sing, as Geri, who shot to fame in the nineties as Ginger Spice, has recently ruled out a Spice Girls reunion tour.

"Funnily enough, even though I'm the one who left the Spice Girls, I'm always the one talking to everyone. I'm like Woody from Toy Story, keeping everyone together. They are still my family. I care about all of them. I'm there for whatever anyone is going through and I'm always open to doing something with the girls. But there are no plans at the moment."

Today, Geri, who launched a solo career after the band's break-up in 1998, flits between TV, radio, music and mum duties to her 11-year-old daughter Bluebell, from a previous relationship, and one-year-old son, Montague, whom she shares with husband Christian Horner.

And All Together Now is, she says, perfect family viewing.

"Bluebell had a little sneak peek of some of it and she was very excited. I can watch anything, from David Attenborough to Love Island - very, very different shows, but both equally entertaining. But that's what's so nice about this show: there are so many laughs. Literally, I had tears at points, because I was laughing that much, which you don't expect from a singing show."

More so, she's keen to make it known she's not after anyone's prime-time crown.

"I love television. I came from a working-class background and I was brought up on a lot of television, whether it was Dallas, The Generation Game, or Play Your Cards Right. All of those shows have a time and a place - and talent shows have been around since Opportunity Knocks and New Faces."

All Together Now, BBC One, today, 7.15pm

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