Steps destroyed by Britney Spears before H caused ‘traumatic’ split

For four years Steps maintained a near-constant presence at the top of the charts with a string of cheesy hits.

Bandmates Faye Tozer, Lisa Scott-Lee, Claire Richards, Lee Latchford-Evans and Ian ‘H’ Watkins' sold 15 million albums, had two number one albums and 14 consecutive top five singles including Tragedy and Deeper Shade of Blue.

In 1999 they were chosen to support label mate Britney Spears on her Baby One More Time tour in the US.

But it was during that time that the cracks that would lead to Steps' dramatic 2001 Boxing Day split began to form.

There was already discontent in the band over Claire being given the best lines to sing.

And when 'H' – which stands for hyperactive – struck up an unlikely friendship with Britney, the void cracked wide open.

"It got people's backs up," Lisa told 2011 Sky documentary, Steps Reunion, especially when H started flying between shows on Britney's private jet while the rest of the group slummed it on the bus.

"They became such good friends that we were all on a tour bus for three months while he was on her private jet! See, and it's things like that that can create waves when you're in a pop group," Lisa previously explained.

Defending himself, Dancing On Ice star H said he suffered from insomnia, arguing: “No one wants to sleep on a bus!”

As for what actually happened on the plane, he continued: “You know what? Britney was so knackered she’d just sleep a lot. I was mainly chatting with her mum.”

Further ill-feeling came when Claire discovered he'd been secretly dating their manager Tim Byrne, and the animosity reached fever pitch when H and Claire handed letters of resignation to their bandmates just hours before the final show of their sellout Gold Tour.

The group announced their split in a shock Boxing Day announcement and refused to speak to either for another two years – even after their duo H & Claire flopped.

"Steps was a melodrama – it started off amazingly and then we imploded," H previously told the Daily Mail.

"When you are in a band you live in a bubble and things can become exaggerated. I do have a lot of regrets about the way we split up.

"Afterwards we needed therapy, and the television documentary was our therapy. Everyone said what they felt and it was very painful, but it needed to be said. I had to face up to what was said about me. I’m a very different man to the person I was back then."

The other group mates were just as traumatised, with Lee telling the Mail: “I have forgiven but I have not forgotten. We have talked about the split, the petty jealousies and grievances that bothered us. The air has been cleared and we’ve moved on, but I’ll never forget the end.

"I was left on my own: no management, no help, no idea of what was going to happen next. I still have the letter H and Claire gave us. We’re older now, we're wiser and we will never let it happen again."

Faye felt "abandoned" and can be seen crying silent tears in the video of their last performance.

She said: "I was in shock when we split. I was thinking, ‘I’m unemployed. What am I going to do?’ For the first time in four years there was no one telling me when to get up, where to go; there was no car waiting outside my door."

The band eventually ironed out their differences and began working on a new album last summer.

Meanwhile, H is competing in this year's Dancing On Ice in the show's first ever same sex couple with Matt Evers.

*Dancing On Ice airs Sundays at 7pm on ITV

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