Pop singer, musical theatre star, TV presenter... and now author. Is there no end to Kimberley Walsh’s talents? DAVID BARNETT speaks to her.

I suppose people might say I’ve had a short life so far to be writing my autobiography,” says Kimberley Walsh, who turns 32 in a few weeks. “But I’ve crammed quite a lot into it.”

Something of an understatement, perhaps. Since shooting to fame in 2002 when she appeared on the BBC TV talent show Pop Stars: The Rivals, Kimberley, from Sandy Lane, Bradford, is now one of the UK’s most recognisable celebrities.

The TV show saw the formation of Girls Aloud, who counfounded expectations by not being a mere manufactured girl band flash-in-the-pan and went on to have 20 top ten singles, six platinum-selling albums, a Brit Award and even an entry in the Guinness Book of Records for their all-conquering sales, all in the space of a ten-year career.

Girls Aloud went on hiatus after seven years, getting back together last year for a sell-out combined reunion/farewell tour and album.

But in the fallow years Kimberley didn’t just sit back and count her money – she was estimated to be worth in the region of £6 million last year. Instead, she presented the TV music show Suck My Pop, did live reporting for the BAFTA awards red carpet, starred in the movie Horrid Henry, brought out her own solo album, became a finalist on Strictly Come Dancing and appeared in the West End production of Shrek: The Musical as Princess Fiona.

So plenty to go at for her autobiography, entitled A Whole Lot of History, which is published next Thursday by Headline. A real Cinderella tale, you might think, the unknown girl from Bradford plucked from obscurity and showered with the stardust of fame and fortune.

Well, not quite. Because although she might well be the poster girl for every teenager who thinks “celebrity” is a viable career option which only needs an audition on X-Factor to springboard them to success, Kimberley has some tough words for them, and they involve two words: Hard work.

She says: “Some people don’t realise that I started out in this business when I was very, very young. I had my first part on a TV show [she was in an ASDA advert and then on kids’ show The Book Tower] when I was just five.

“I used to go to dance classes every night and was singing all the time. I didn’t just decide to be a pop star. There’s a lot of hard work and graft and knock-backs if you want to have this sort of career. I was very committed to my quest and that’s how you have to be.”

Back in 2002, the idea of TV talent shows as we know them now was pretty new, and Kimberley and the fellow contestants who ended up forming Girls Aloud – Cheryl Cole, Nadine Coyle, Sarah Harding and Nicola Roberts – didn’t really know what was going to happen. Would they become stars, or sink into obscurity?

Nowadays, thanks to the dominant X-Factor, there’s a well-trodden path from audition to TV appearances to instant stardom.

“I think it’s a lot harder for kids today,” says Kimberley. “I don’t think they realise how much pressure there is in shows like this. We really didn’t know what to expect. I don’t envy those people going through those shows today at all. We found our own experience stressful enough, but it seems so much more so today.

“A lot of people think talent shows are an easy route to stardom, but they’re not. It’s not just a case of turning up for an audition and sitting back waiting to become a pop star.”

Before becoming part of Girls Aloud, Kimberley was studying English and Media at Trinity and All Saints College in Horsforth.

Although she admits she was always determined to work in showbusiness and never planned to work on “the other side”, she does concede that the skills she picked up have probably helped her with the writing of her book.

“I planned out the structure to what I wanted and I’m really happy with the finished product,” she says.

Described in the press material for her book as “the UK’s favourite Northern lass”, Kimberley does live in London now and gets back to Bradford to see her family as her schedule allows, though not as often as she likes.

But she is still resolutely Bradfordian.

“I do speak up for Bradford. The city gets a rough deal from some people sometimes, but it can be an amazing place. We’re very strong people from Bradford and I think it’s that side of me that gave me the drive to succeed.”

As to the future, Kimberley’s looking forward to her first Christmas off in years. After that? “I have some plans for the new year,” she says mysteriously.

And, because it is traditional to ask, is she planning to get married to long-term boyfriend Justin Scott? “We’re very happy as we are at the moment.”

Kimberley will be returning home next week to make an appearance at Morrisons on Bradford Road, Idle, at noon on Wednesday September 25 to sign copies of her book and meet fans.

She says: “It feels a bit weird, going back to the places I used to go in the old days, like Morrisons. One thing’s for sure, it won’t be like doing the usual weekly shop!”