Why we loved Take That (and still do)

Take That are back, back, back as a five-piece, with a performance of new single The Flood on this weekend’s X Factor and an album to follow on Monday. We decided to celebrate by asking Team Stylist for their favourite memory of the boys – illustrated, naturally, by some classic TT images, which are a misty-eyed trip down memory lane in themselves. Take these and party…

  • Sarah Angus, Fashion Writer

    “I remember ripping out all the posters of Robbie, Howard and Mark (my faves) from mags and covering my walls in them – side by side with no wall space showing. The one of Robbie dressed as Peter Pan was my favourite. Oh, and Howard’s baby-oiled abs on a sundrenched beach. Relight My Fire remains a firm favourite karaoke tune with me and my girlfriends, belting out Lulu’s part at ear-piercing volume. I saw Howard in Soho once while walking with my husband. I hid around the corner because I was too embarrassed to approach him and couldn’t just act normal because I was staring too much. Sad.”

  • Mike Soutar, Chief Executive

    “When I was the Editor of Smash Hits in the early 90s, the ‘That’ often used to hang around our Carnaby Street offices. Mark Owen made me cups of tea. Robbie even took to calling me “Boss”. We put them on page 3 in 1991 for the release of their first single Do What U Like - partly because we liked them so much, but mainly because our cover stars were dance acts like Adamski or Candy Flip, and we were desperate for a boy band to break through. Of course, a year later they did and we chronicled them all the way. One of our best-selling issues was when we had temporary tattoos as a free gift and one was Mark Owen’s dolphin tattoo. Total sell-out within a day and a half.”

  • Terri White, Editor of our sister title ShortList

    “Mark was always my favourite. I ordered friends to address to me as Mrs Terri Owen and wrote him endless letters, convinced we were soulmates and if he’d just meet me, we’d be together for all eternity. When he didn’t reply, I decided to take matters into my hands. I bunked off school, got the train over to Oldham and turned up on his doorstep. I arrived to join 13 other sullen girls also waiting for Mark. After ten hours I realised Mark wasn’t coming. I trooped back to the station with a lump in my throat and a heavy heart. Fast forward nine years and I was a writer for a celebrity magazine when Mark Owen emerged victorious from the Celebrity Big Brother house. I begged my editor to let me interview him. In the flesh he was everything I had dreamed he’d be. Cute, funny, sincere, unable to properly pronounce his ‘r’s. As our half-hour ended, I waited for the inevitable suggestion of a post-interview drink together. He shook my hand, said ‘Nice to meet you, Terri’ and left. I stood shocked for a few moments, gathered my belongings and left with a familiar lump in my throat and heavy heart.”

  • Megan Conner, Senior Writer

    “I trace my initial love of Take That back to a time where I obviously deemed it acceptable for grown men to wear crop tops featuring pink and white Johnson’s Baby Powder logos. I was 9, I hasten to add, and too naïve to notice that said T-shirt actually said "Junkies Baddy Powder". Mark Owen was my first schoolgirl crush and lessons were spent doodling the TT logo repeatedly over my exercise books and fantasising about meeting Mark. Or my second choice, Robbie. By the time the band split, I was over them. At least that’s what I told my bleating friends, who were apparently too ill to come to school that day. Little did we know that 15 years later, we’d all be scrambling for concert tickets in only a slightly more dignified manner than we did back then.”

  • Francesca Brown, Production Editor

    “Because Take That were big when I was in sixth form, obviously my friends and I couldn’t just go and hang outside at the Newcastle Copthorne Hotel when they were staying there. We were above such things and had Smiths posters to be proud of. So instead, my mate Emma rang up the Copthorne saying she was arranging her wedding and wanted to come down and see the packages available. We sailed past the freezing first years with their Mark posters and spent two hours in the lobby discussing flower arrangements for a non-existent wedding. Sadly, Robbie failed to spot us and invite us to the backstage party. But I can highly recommend the Copthorne as a wedding venue.”

  • Amy Grier, Junior Writer

    “Take That were the first boys I ever put on my wall. They were the first poster I ever cut out (from Just 17). I promptly went out and bought the TT folder, pencil case, ruler and pencil combo, and fountain pen. I was the envy of the school. Until the fateful day in February 1996 when they announced the split. I remember sitting in maths, staring at my pencil case and folder (oh how it mocked me) thinking that I’d have to buy all new stationery. Instead I covered my folder with a picture of Jared Leto. It was a sad day. I never once cried though. Not one. Solitary. Tear.”

  • Michael Hogan, Contributing Editor

    “When I was 21 and had just moved to London, I spent Christmas away from my mum for the first time. All my housemates made a pact to spend the holidays together. Drunk. My present to my friend Paul was the Take That & Party video, so we all spent Christmas Day 1992 dancing in front of our old Grundig telly, singing along and passing round matt black bottles of Freixenet cava. I was a firm fan thereafter and saw them play a gay night at Brixton Fridge, wearing leather jackets and cycling shorts. Three years later, I’d landed my dream job on Just 17 and vividly remember us all being on a conference in Brighton when news of the band’s split broke. We rushed back to the office and stayed up all night, hastily assembling a farewell issue. The cover read: TT R.I.P – Gone For Good. Hang on, there’s something in my eye...”

  • Joanna McGarry, Beauty Director

    “I was a massive Mark Owen fan when I was 11. I couldn’t believe my luck when he was allowed up front to sing Babe. I was convinced that song was written for me and instantly learned it by heart. It’s a real gut-wrencher. I’d listen to it on repeat on my Walkman, just walking around the house, affecting some sort of premature teenage angst. I still know every word - I’ll never get those brain cells back. Whenever I catch a few bars of it on some obscure music channel, it still sends a shiver of desire down my spine. These days, though, my favourite is Howard. He’s got better hair.”

  • Matt Phare, Creative Director

    “I was working on Just 17 when Take That broke up and designed the souvenir issue. So I jumped at the chance when invitations came through to the band’s farewell party at Manchester Town Hall. A few of us headed north on the train for the do, which was rather grand – the boys got given the keys to the city – but then became pretty debauched. Stumbling into a darkened side room seeking more free Champagne, I interrupted Gary Barlow in an intimate clinch with his wife. But the highlight was a chat with Mark Owen. I told him about the souvenir special and said how sad I was at the split. Rather refreshed himself, he tenderly cupped my face and told me it was all OK, he had a solo record deal. He then hugged me to his chest, from which position I looked up to see several dozen deeply jealous women looking daggers at me.”