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Memphis? It's worse than Glasgow for fry ups.. I had to live off fruit for 3 days; POP IDOL MICHELLE ON HER BATTLE FOR SUCCESS.


SCOTS singing star Michelle McManus has hit back at her critics who've labelled her a "flop idol" and told them "I've had a rocking year".

Life just couldn't be better for Michelle - she's a new woman in every sense of the word.

She's shed more than six stone since starting Gillian McKeith's You Are What You Eat healthy living programme. And she's in the middle of recording her long-awaited second album.

"I just can't tell you how happy I am," said Michelle

"I've lost the weight and I'm enjoying myself. I've got loads of stuff coming up and I've just done a big photo shoot with six other celebrities including Tara Palmer Tomkinson, and Jodie Kidd - all from a size 6 to 16.

"I hope I don't come across as too cocky, but I've got a bloody great life.

"So what if I get a bit of stick from the media - I've got a lovely home in London, a bit of money and a great family, I've had a rocking year."

The singer from GlasgowI've a bloody great life has just returned from a visit to Graceland in Memphis where she was filming for the new BBC holiday show Departure Lounge.

The 25-year-old took part in a celebrity challenge to see how far she could go on just pounds 500, and she chose to visit the Memphis home of her idol Elvis Presley.

"The challenge was very strict. I couldn't just pull out my credit card. I was told I'd be disqualified if I did that," said Michelle.

The Pop Idol winner bought a Northwest Airlines flight for pounds 386 and travelled to Memphis via Detroit - with the help of a first-class upgrade.

"When we got to the airport I stuck the camera in their face and asked to be bumped up.

"Being moved up to first-class was amazing, and it made me such a snob because I had to go cattle-class on the way back. I tried every trick in the book to get bumped up again, but the Americans were having none of it."

Instead of staying in luxury hotels Michelle had just over pounds 100 to pay for three nights' accommodation - so she just kipped on someone's sofa.

"I found out about a thing called couch surfing where people let you sleep on their sofa for free. I stayed with this young guy in Memphis one night, and paid for accommodation in Mississippi."

But in the deep south it was the food which was the biggest problem for Michelle - everything is fried.

She said: "It was difficult for me because I'm still doing Gillian McKeith's detox. Eating in America was an absolute nightmare. If it wasn't nailed down they would fry it. I had to live on fruit for the three or four days we were there."

But the highlight of Michelle's flying visit was Graceland. "It was amazing experience and I got a private tour of Graceland from a guy called Jerry Shilling who was Elvis's best friend and lived in Graceland with him," she said.

"Everyone loves Elvis but it isn't till you get out there that you really feel it. It was Elvis week and people were crying at the graveside."

Two years ago Michelle won the Pop Idol competition against all the odds after judge Pete Waterman branded her a "freak".

Michelle made it to No. 1 soon after with her hit All This Time, and her debut album rocketed into the top three. But she's had a rocky road to success and recently pop guru Simon Cowell claimed her career was over.

He said: "Michelle doesn't have a future as a recording artist. It's as simple as that, because the public decided they didn't want to buy her records.

"I never worked with her, but I supported her in Pop Idol II because there was nobody else to support."

Michelle also faced more misery last month when she was axed by 19 management after failing to follow up on her album success. But it would take more than that to stop the singer.

"Simon had a new show coming out and he was doing publicity for it, so he's said something cheeky about me. He's entitled to his opinion.

"He could be right - maybe my career is over. I don't know because my album is only in the middle of being made. But, fingers crossed, I hope it does really well when it comes out in January."

But the biggest challenge for Michelle this year has been her determined bid to lose weight.

She recruited the help of diet guru Gillian McKeith to help her slim down from a whopping 22 stone.

A stern McKeith attacked size-20 Michelle for her love of booze and junk food, and said she was the show's worst ever participant.

But Michelle gave as good as she got and is well on the way to being half the woman she was, and there will be a follow-up programme in December so viewers can see exactly how much weight the singer has lost in a year.

"I've lost just over six stone and I want to lose another three by Christmas," said Michelle.

She added: "Gillian didn't mince her words, but when you're dealing with someone who's nearly 22 stone there's no nice way to put it.

"As long as it keeps coming off, that's the most important thing."

Michelle says she's had a bottle of wine in total since May and she has absolutely no cravings for junk food.

She said: "I love my detox diet. Everyone is waiting for a picture of me with a bag of chips but I don't even want chips now."

Departure Lounge is on BBC 1, Friday at 7pm.


Michelle at her idol's Graceland; Dr McKeith shows Michelle what she eats; Michelle, below, shows off her old jeans at the end of the show. Left, six stone lighter this summer
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 28, 2005
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