Claire started life in the pop lane in 1995 when she teamed with Cossie and Bonnie to form TSD. After their two singles – Heart and Soul and Baby I Love You only reached number 69 and 64 respectively they were dropped by their record company. Bonnie left the group shortly after and was replaced by Suzie, though TSD soon spilt and it emerged their record label only wanted to work with Cossie.
After a 7 month stint working as a receptionist at Burger King headquarters – and winning the coveted ‘Temp Of The Month for May 1997’ it was Claire’s mum Nina who spotted an ad for Steps in the Stage newspaper. After initial nerves, Claire went along, taking younger sister Gemma along for support. Although she almost didn’t make it too the audition after getting lost on the way. Singing Tina Turners ‘River Deep, Mountain High’ and Eternals ‘I Am Blessed’ for her audition, she not only impressed Tim, but the other audtionees (including Faye) some of whom were sat 3 rooms away! It was at this audition she wore the now infamous catsuit, which made its one and only appearance in the video for Last Thing On My Mind. After getting through the terrifying experience of both the singing and dancing auditions Claire finally got into the group we now know as Steps.
They released the line dancing classic 5,6,7,8 in December 1997, peaking at 14 it is officially one of the highest selling singles never to make it into the British top ten, selling almost 200,000 copies. However it was 5,6,7,8 that also became Steps first ever number one, hitting the top spot in Australia.
Back in Britain over 4 years they achieved 13 consecutive Top 5 singles (a feat bettered only by the Beatles) and sold over 12 million singles and albums.
In early 2000 Claire went side by side with band mate H to present the young talent show Steps To The Stars. You may have noticed a young pre Pop Idol Gareth Gates in the last series of the show.
Claires TV presenting career goes further than just Steps To The Stars, she was the first female guest presenter on SM:tv/CD:uk filling in for Cat whilst she was on holiday, she’s presented Electric Circus, MTV Select and a show I think she’d rather forget – Stars and Their Doubles 2001 with Des O’Connor.
During her time in Steps she achieved 2 number one singles with Heartbeat/Tragedy and Stomp as well as a coveted Brit Award in 2000, when Steps were recognized at the biggest selling act of that year!
After a greatest hits Gold tour in November/December 2001, they announced their split on Boxing Day 2001 – breaking the hearts of many fans across the world.
January 26th 2002 saw H and Claire’s first TV appearance since the Steps split. Appearing on SM:TV and then with Cat on CD:UK they announced their plans to carry on as a duo. Only weeks later they signed a £4 Million record contract with WEA (Warners) Records. In the May they released their debut single as a duo – DJ which peaked at number 3 in the British charts.
Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus rewrote some of the lyrics to Another You Another Me which was originally recorded by Swedish duo Gemini. With songs from Sam Watters (Anastasia), John Reid (Nighcrawlers), Topham&Twigg, Jorgen Elofsson and of course H and Claire themselves, the album was always going to be a varied one. Released in November 2002 it only reached 58 in the UK charts, despite this low position it is still loved by the fans.
During this time they also had a 5 month stint at presenting SM:tv, joining in April 2002 they co-presented the show alongside Tess Daly and Big Brother 2 winner Brian Dowling.
Both H and Claire took a break from music to concentrate on their own projects. H went to the west end, playing the role of Joseph in Joseph and his amazing technicolor dream coat, going on to enrol in an acting course at the Royal Academy of Music.
Claire took some time away from the spotlight to plan her wedding to dancer Mark Webb. They married in Northamptionshire in August 2nd 2003. Sadly after 18months Claire and Mark’s marriage broke down and the couple divorced.
After years out of the spotlight, Claire returned in 2006, announcing in OK! magazine that she had got engaged to Reece, her first love. Claire and Reece welcomed their first child together, Charlie to the world on May 8th 2007. (H’s birthday!)
2008 saw the proper start of Claire’s comeback. Claire and Reece were planning their wedding for November 2008, which was documented in a BBC3 documentary “Claire Richards: My big fat wedding.”
A lot of the documentary focused around Claire’s weight loss, a battle she’s been fighting since she first auditioned for STEPS.
Claire successfully got down to a size 10 for the big day, and on November 1st 2008 Reece and Claire married.
Claire’s 5 Step Fat Attack was released on 26th of December 2008, and was the best selling fitness DVD of the year, fans and experts both agreed that it was very effective.
Claire announced in August 2009 that she was expecting her second child. Daisy was born on December 29th.