Why Britney Spears and a private jet was the beginning of the end for Steps

Jayne Cherrington-Cook
While Steps split in 2001, the cracks began to show a couple of years before that (Image: Getty Images)
While Steps split in 2001, the cracks began to show a couple of years before that (Image: Getty Images)

When Steps split on Boxing Day in 2001, it left thousands of fans devastated, but the cracks started to show a couple of years before that when the band supported Britney Spears on her first tour of America and Canada in 1999.

The band, who were appearing on White Wine Question Time, were speaking about the highs and lows of their 23-year pop career.

While supporting Britney on tour was super exciting for the fivesome, it also created a divide in the group, when four of the band stayed in a tour bus for the duration of the tour, while Ian ‘H’ Watkins took a rather more luxurious option.

Read more: Steps make comeback with dance track written by Sia

“We toured America and Canada on that tour bus, that was our touring hotel,” said Lisa Scott-Lee. “H didn't join us on the tour bus though – he was with Britney Spears on her private jet.”

Listen: Steps recall their career highs and lows

Watkins said that he shunned the tour bus because he had trouble sleeping.

“I suffered dreadfully with sleep – just hideously – and we were expected to sleep on this bus,” he recalled.

Read more: Cat Deeley shares first look at SM:TV reunion with Ant and Dec

“It was a sleeper bus and it was horrendous, even for people that could sleep, so I made friends with Britney and Felicia, her PA, and Rob her bodyguard, and I ended up traveling a lot with Britney on her jet with her mum and her sister.”

Ian 'H' Watkins made friend with Britney Spears while touring with her and travelled in her private jet (Image: Getty Images)
Ian 'H' Watkins made friend with Britney Spears while touring with her and travelled in her private jet (Image: Getty Images)

Asked by Thornton if Watkins had tried to get his bandmates on the plane alongside him, he replied that it was way “too small”.

In their 2011 Sky documentary Steps: Reunion, Lisa Scott-Lee said Watkins’ choice of travel did actually create a divide between them, branding his behaviour “diva-ish”

"It got people's backs up," she said.

Scott-Lee told Thornton that while it created waves at the time, she’s fine with it now and the whole experience of being on tour with such a big star was “really memorable.”

Watch: Steps announce their reunion

“At the end of the day, we were having so much fun,” she said.

“We'd literally get back on the tour bus, have a few drinks and see some of Britney's dancers and things like that.

“We would travel through the nights – sometimes to the next neighbouring state or to the next city – and then we'd get up and sound check and see Britney in catering and then get on stage and do it all over again.”

Read more: Britney Spears' younger sister Jamie Lynn appointed trustee to her fortune

Band-mate Faye Tozer even cited the tour as one of her major career highlights as it felt like they’d really made it as a band – and got to rub shoulders with some A-list stars along the way.

“For us to be a little late nineties pop group from the UK to then go on tour with Britney – that's when we really felt like, 'Wow, we've made it, we're actual pop stars now!'” she recalled.

The group split after they finished their Gold tour in 2001 (Image: Getty Images)
The group split after they finished their Gold tour in 2001 (Image: Getty Images)

She continued: “It was quite a big, big moment and then to be sort of hobnobbing with other people... Justin Timberlake would come into the canteen because he was dating Britney at the time. We hung out with David Hasselhoff and some of NSYNC at some point.

“We did the Fox Teen Awards, and J-Lo was there and Steve Tyler was there. It was a moment when I think it was like ‘Pinch yourself, we’re actually doing it! We're part of this industry.’”

The new album from Steps, What The Future Holds, is out on 27 November.

Listen to the full episode to hear Steps talk about winning a BRIT award and why their reunion this time round is better than ever. Find it on iTunes or Spotify.