The golden era of boy bands and girl groups was a simpler time, wasn’t it?
Back in the day when pop was king and the likes of S Club, Atomic Kitten and Steps (who are very much back, FYI) rules the airwaves, all you had to do to be cool was to own a CD player and know all the words to the biggest pop hit of the time off by heart.
And while somewhere down the line they stopped topping the charts, it’s still very much en vogue to still have a soft spot for your favourite pop stars of the era, and Blue – made up of Lee Ryan, Antony Costa, Simon Webb and Duncan James, will always have a place in our hearts.
From solo music to plenty of reality TV stints, here’s what the members of our fave noughties boyband are up to now.
CHECK OUT: what are Blue up to these days?
Blue - where are they now?
Lee was, for the most part, considered the lead singer of the group and was the ultimate eye candy for the average teenaged girl. Before Blue as we know it was formed, Lee, along with Antony, auditioned for a boyband on This Morning in 1999 to be managed by Simon Cowell, but nothing ended up coming from it (until actual Blue were formed, that is, the following year).
After Blue fell from the very height of their fame around 2005, Lee was the first to release new music, with his debut single Army of Lovers debuting at number 3 in the charts and his second single Turn Your Car around released to mixed reviews. In 2007 he turned his hand to acting, starring alongside EastEnders' Natalie Cassidy in The Pretender Agenda at the New Player Theatre in London. In 2017 he landed the role of Woody Woodward in EastEnders, and was nominated for an Inside Soap award. In 2014 he stirred up some serious drama in the Celebrity Big Brother house where he was at the centre of a love triangle with Casey Batchelor and US model Jasmine Waltz. But despite his womanizing ways in the past, Lee is now happily loved up with girlfriend Verity Paris and they're currently expecting their first child together.
Just like Lee Ryan, Antony formed one third of the original blueprint for, er, Blue (sorry), along with – wouldn't you know it – Will Young, who were to be managed by Simon Cowell. After the plans fell flat, Antony and his pal, Duncan James, decided to try their own luck at superstardom, and brought Lee on board.
While he may not have been the most famous face in the band, as a founding member, it's Antony we have to thanks for bringing Blue to the world (and what kind of a world would it be without them? It doesn't bare thinking about). He's also enjoyed plenty of success since the groups' hiatus in 2005, starring on I'm a Celebrity.. Get Me out of Here! the same year and competing in Eurovision: Making Your Mind Up in 2006. Later that year he starred on stage in the world-famous West End production of Blood Brothers, as Mickey. In his personal life, he's a doting dad to daughters Savannah and Paloma, who he shares with long-term partner Rosanna Jasmin, who he's been with since 2012.
Duncan was the smouldering heartthrob of the group, setting the hearts of teenagers a-flutter with his myriad topless photoshoots in magazines. After the group's decline in 2005, Duncan described himself as bisexual in an interview and three years later came out privately as gay to bandmate Simon Webbe.
Duncan made his return to music in 2006 with his debut solo single Sooner or Later, which peaked in the charts at number 35. The following single and subsequent album were also considered commercial flops. But Dunc had far more success on the stage, first starring in the West End production of Chicago in 2007 and later landing a main role in Legally Blonde the musical. He's currently got a long-term residency as London club Proud Cabaret, where he's worked alongside Denise Van Outen, and in recent years has got a TONNE of reality TV under his belt, including The Celebrity Circle for Stand Up 2 Cancer, Celebs on the Farm and most recently, Celebrity Masterchef.
The fourth and final member to join the group was one Simon Webbe, a friend of Lee's who he credits as "saving his life" when he set Simon up with a room in his flat, and later with a career in one of the biggest British boybands of the noughties. With Simon on board as the missing piece, the lads began recording in 2000 and in May 2001, released their debut single, All Rise. The rest, as they say, is history.
Not one to be outdone by his bandmates, shortly after Blue went their separate ways in 2005 Simon released his own solo material – and fared decidedly better than the rest of the group, with his first two singles reaching number four in the charts and his debut solo album Sanctuary eventually gaining double platinum status. He went on to release two more studio albums, Grace, in 2006, and Smile, in 2017. He's also done some reality TV, going into the jungle in 2008 and competing on Strictly Come Dancing in 2014. In April 2021, he became a first-time dad with his wife Ayshen.
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Despite officially splitting up in 2005 after five glorious years of pop perfection, the lads have been back together to perform on and off since 2011, and in 2013 took part in The Big reunion, which saw them tour with other massive pop groups of the era like B*Witched, 5ive and 911.
They even represented the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest in Dusseldorf in 2011, with their entry, I Can placing 14th.
Last year, Lee hinted we could be seeing another reunion tour for the boys, telling The Sun, "We were wanting to do something for our 20th anniversary but at the moment lockdown has meant it’s been difficult to get together. It’s not been easy.
"There could be something in the pipeline as we’re really good mates."
A source told the same publication, "They feel really proud that they have stood the test of time and many of their songs are still played on the radio now.
"Getting to a huge milestone like their 20th anniversary is not something that they could allow to pass by without celebration.
"They know they have a loyal fanbase who they love to entertain so it’s safe to say it’s going to be a Blue extravaganza in 2021."