Hark, the Cheryl Angel Sings!

Forget Buck House, the X Factor’s north-west London studios saw the nation’s real queen on show. ELLIE PITHERS tries to work out why.

Cheryl Cole girls aloud queen X Factor

2009 will go down in history as the year that Cheryl Cole became Queen of England.

The Cole War years of 2007-8 saw the nation’s favourite left-back, Sir Ashley, pitted against his gorgeous geordie Girls Aloud wife, Cheryl, after he allegedly decided to switch the play from his current position as first-choice England football extraordinaire (and loving husband) to an entirely more compromising formation: that of Love Rat. It seems Ash was determined to prove his ball-handling skills were just as adept off the field as they were on it, thus, he decided to get messy with a hairdresser. And then pay her to abort the baby. Or something like that. Suddenly, it was a Chelsea Missile Crisis, but this time Cole was defending for his life, not merely justifying his Russian pay packet.

But those bleak years are thankfully behind us. Phase One: The Good Queen Cheryl stood by her man, and subsequently became the poster girl for suffering spouses across the globe. Phase Two: The Cheryl was injected into the show that made her the superstar that she is today, and has now mesmerised more than 12 million viewers who weekly sacrifice their Saturday nights out to catch a ray of the glorious light that emanates from her heavenly body. Phase Three: Cheryl’s stylist decides it is prime-time to make his name, and promote a few niche fashion designers along the way, thus, Cheryl now sports at least two outfits a show and creates a fashion frenzy simply by wearing an interesting dress.

Forget the second-rate worn-out losers who have to rely on slightly ridiculous hairstyles to get them through to the next round in the delusion that is X Factor. The public don’t give a shit about the nurturing of new musical talent in Britain. Britain hasn’t got talent. But it has got Cheryl Cole.

And my, what a lovely little lady she is. Archetypal Petite Girl (cute, cuddly and portable) she is a one-woman show. Screw the actual ‘acts’ themselves – we want Cheryl! We want to drink in her loveable Geordie colloquialisms, bask in the radiant warmth of her megawatt smile, bounce in her glossy mane of permanently vivacious hair. This is the hair that won her a L’Oreal contract earlier this year, and by God is she worth it! It is hair that could push Arsenal supporters to concede that Chelsea have a better chance at winning the Premiership, hair that would force Peter Andre to reconcile with Katie Price, hair that could – and did – shift 290,000 copies of a frankly bland solo single in one week. Fight for this love? Cheryl needn’t lift a finger. We’ve all fallen in love with her already.

All this is a far cry from her rather less presentable past. Miraculously the entire British nation appears to have conveniently forgotten about the rock’n’roll rebellion she attempted to instigate single-handedly in 2003, when she was convicted of attacking a lavatory attendant in a nightclub and sentenced to community service. Cheryl gave us her side of the story in a Vogue interview earlier this year: “I never denied hitting her and I would have hit her again at the time. That's what we were taught on the estate – you have to defend yourself and that's what I was doing." Ah, but here comes the rub: the one uncomfortable reality that will never go away. The “estate”. The classic trump card that excuses its’ player from all previous misdemeanors. Tough upbringing, tough attitude. Hard knock life, and all that.

But to term Cheryl a mere rags-to-riches Hello! goldmine would be to do her, and her hair, a disservice. This girl, like all the Petite Girls before her, is no one trick pony. She’s grown up on that estate, but she’s also been a gobby popstar, a jilted wife, a WAG on the arm of Victoria Beckham, a spread in OK and a Vogue cover. So how did Cheryl manage to put all that punching behind her and become the pocket powerhouse that she is today? When exactly did she gain the status of ‘National Treasure’? Precisely how did she elevate herself to the rung of prestige reserved only for Bruce Forsythe, Yorkshire Puddings, Delia Smith, A Stiff Upper Lip and Harrods? Why do grannies in the queue at the post office worry about her eating habits, and girls in the aisles of Claire’s Accessories try to recreate her eye make-up? How is it that she has acquired the prefix ‘Our’?

The answer is so simple that it always gets overlooked.

Cheryl Cole is nice.

She’s a nice cup of tea, with a nice custard cream on the side. Bland enough to appeal to the masses, but sweet enough to make that particular cup more tasty than the last. She laughs at your shit jokes. She confesses that she has no idea how to pronounce Christian Louboutin, either. She will admit that she, too, slipped over in the rain yesterday and dropped her Blackberry in a puddle. She’s also unable to work out how to use this bloody BBM thing, and is in agreement that she should have stuck with her good old Sony Ericsson.

She’s nice in the way that rainbows are nice. In the way that flowers and stars are nice. It helps, of course, that she’s traffic-stoppingly beautiful. But she’s also accessible in a way that so many of today’s celebrities are not. She has escaped the stain of reality TV star and made it in her own right – and she’s done all that without forgetting how to be the nice girl.

But the best thing about Cheryl? She wears cowboy hats when she goes on exotic beach holidays. And that makes me giggle.