Oh Baby look at you now

BABY Spice is all grown up now.

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Emma Bunton is enjoying her new-found status as a radio star
Emma Bunton is enjoying her new-found status as a radio star

The baby doll dresses are in a trunk in the attic and the hair is no longer clasped in bunches.

Yet, 38 year-old Emma Bunton still bubbles with the enthusiasm of a teenager.

These days, the energy isn't focused on her old pop group and careering around the world but in her new career as a radio presenter, now fronting Heart FM's Saturday show, (formerly Real Radio).

Yet, isn't this a little less satisfying?

The lady who once performed the likes of Wanna Be to tens of of thousands of people at a time is now talking into a microphone for a living.

Radio is, of course, the theatre of the imagination, but on radio you don't get to see the audience. And you certainly don't hear the applause.

"When I took on the job at first I did wonder how I'd feel about it," she reflects of her three years on the Heart breakfast show.

"But after doing it for a while you come to realise you get incredible feedback. Listeners text in all the time and I meet people in the street and contact our website so they mention things and often suggest topics."

Emma says appearing on radio this is a very different form of performing.

"It is, but it's also a world I love. I come into a studio and I play great music. We play all sorts of records with Heart, and I love the mix. And I love the challenge of relating to the audience."

Pop stars often find it hard to reinvent themselves after enjoying global popularity. Gary Barlow's recent TV documentary highlighted how hard to can be to be idolised one minute - and ignored the next.

"I knew when the Spice Girls ended I'd have to do new things. And it was scary. But my mum has always been a great role model.

"She took up karate at the age of 40 and now she's a black belt and a teacher. She's taught me anything is possible.

"I want to do so many different things in life, to take on new challenges.

While she has had Jamie Theakston as her radio wing man for three years, she's now flying solo.

"When the red light goes on in the studio I do get that adrenalin rush and sometimes wonder what is going to come out of my mouth and it's pretty scary.

"But that's what I love about it. And if you don't get nervous, what's the point?"

She adds, grinning: "Why do a job if you don't feel your being challenged?

"And here's the thing. I started with the Spice Girls when I was 19, and that was really young. But hopefully I've got a whole new career, which is amazing."

Does she like the music format? Has she played any Spice Girls records?

"Do you know what, I've played Spice Girls a couple of times. But I don't think I've ever played any of my own."

She adds, laughing: "We don't like to be too self- indulgent, but now that you've mentioned it I'll go and make that suggestion."

Emma reveals she was always a budding radio presenter.

"As a kid I used to make up my own radio shows, recording in my bedroom and then go out in the street and ask people what they thought of Bananarama.

"I wasn't a child performer in the sense I was always singing and performing to my family, but I did listen to Chris Evans and then go off and think I could become a radio DJ. So I'd make tapes with me playing music and then I'd be like: 'Next up we have Salt 'n' Pepa with Push It!' It's amazing that now I'm doing it for real."

Emma has had a successful solo career, releasing albums and presenting on television, working as a judge on the ITV skating show Dancing on Ice.

In 2012, she reprised her role as one of Edina Monsoon's disgruntled clients in a revival of the BBC's Absolutely Fabulous.

But will the Spice Girls be revived? It's been rumoured they will tour with the Backstreet Boys.

"There is always talk of things happening, but that's all it is. We love spending time together and the Olympics was amazing. How can you follow that?

"You never know, although for the moment there's nothing in the pipeline."

Emma's life is pretty full.

"I've been working with Unicef for the past couple of years and there's another project coming up.

"But I am a mummy as well. My two boys (Tate and Beau - Emma's partner is Damage pop star Jade Jones) are six and three.

"So I want to be with them as much as I possibly can. That's my priority in life."

n Emma Bunton presents the Celebrate Saturday show from 5pm to 7pm on Heart FM.

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