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Twenty years ago Bardot's song Poison was a number one hit. This is what they're up to now.

This month marks the 20th anniversary of ‘Poison’, the chart-topping, earworm of a single by Aussie pop band Bardot. Take a moment to steady yourself as the flashbacks of halter tops and low-rise belted jeans go whizzing through your mind.

Good? Good.

To celebrate the anniversary, three members of the reality TV-born band reunited (via Zoom) for a rendition of the hit song. And my goodness, you just don’t hear multiple-part harmonies like that anymore.

The video featured Belinda Chapple, Katie Underwood and Tiffani Wood, with an obvious hole where Sophie Monk ought to be.

Though the Love Island host has continued a career in the spotlight, she rarely talks about her beginnings with the band. And the anniversary has so far slipped by without mention on her social media.

But let’s not stop us from wallowing in some much-needed nostalgia.

Let’s reminisce about the girl group that dominated turn-of-the-century Aussie pop, see what they’ve been up to since and whether there’s any chance of a reunion.

The stolen cash and a bundle-full of hush money.

The five members of Bardot were handpicked from a reality TV series called Popstars; a show so wonderfully low-rent (we’re talking pre-Australian Idol remember) that Jackie O was paid an allowance of $67 to be a judge.

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But the original lineup of Bardot wasn’t the one most would know. Yes, there was Sophie Monk, Belinda Chapple, Sally Polihronas and Katie Underwood, but there was also Chantelle Barry, who mysteriously vanished from the group in 2000. There was no explanation for her departure, just a vague allusion to ‘family reasons’.

The tabloids had an alternate explanation: that she’d been “sacked for stealing” from her bandmates.

Years later, Chantelle confirmed that there was an element of truth behind the glossies’ gossip. Speaking to Woman’s Day in 2017, she revealed that she had spent Sophie Monk’s $100 weekly allowance, after the fellow singer accidentally left it in her room.

“In a moment of stupidity, being a teenager and thinking that a pair of shoes was more important than the friendship I had with Sophie, I decided to keep her money for myself,” she said.

Bardot star Sophie Monk talks to Mamamia about dealing with rejection.

Video by Mamamia

She told the publication that management paid her $1000 to leave the group and stay silent on the matter. She took it: “I was young, naive and saw it as a way out,” she said.

After the public confession, Sophie alleged via The Kyle and Jackie O Show that Chantelle had also taken items from other members of the group: “She had stolen hairdryers and Chanel stuff… But the funniest thing is, I was the only one who wanted to keep her in the band. I really liked her and people go through things and I thought she was so talented. We all do stupid things.”

She was replaced by the judges’ next choice, Newcastle singer Tiffani Wood.

And then there were four. Again.

The line-up change did little to dampen Bardot’s success.

Katie recalled her time in the spotlight in a recent issue of Stellar“That was probably the strangest thing in my life. I had trouble going anywhere because it was so intense, especially for me and Sophie because we were very spottable.”

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“The media maintained that the hype was unjustified because at, that point in time, we hadn’t done anything – we’d just been on TV,” she added.

But then their debut single, ‘Poison’, entered the ARIA singles chart at number one, and sold more than 60,000 copies in its first week. ‘I Should’ve Never Let You Go’ followed, peaking at 14. Meanwhile, fans queued in their thousands at performances and record signings around Australia.

“I just remember that first performance at Parramatta with the screams,” Belinda told news.com.au. “The screams were so loud and almost vibrating through the walls … when we came out on stage it was like nothing I could never imagine… I’d never seen so many people in my life.”


But in 2001, Katie Underwood decided to leave in favour of a role in the stage musical, Hair, a move bizarrely encouraged by the band’s then-manager who helped orchestrate the audition. Unfortunately, the production never got off the ground.

Katie told Stellar, there were aspects of the band she wasn’t so keen on. “I never wanted to be a model,” she said. “I remember being angry at certain times because we spent more time in photoshoots than we did singing. When you sign up to be a female pop star, it’s implicit you’re also signing up to be a make-up, hair and fashion model.”

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Still, the (smaller) band pushed on with its second album, Play it Like That, and once again cracked the top-five in the ARIA singles charts with ‘ASAP’.

It was sold as a ‘comeback’. After just a year in the business.

The breakup.

In April 2002, it happened.

“Bardot confirm their mutual decision to end the group’s career,” the official statement read. “Belinda Chapple, Sophie Monk, Sally Polihronas and Tiffany [as she spelled it then] Wood have cited the need for a well-earned break following what has been a phenomenal 2.5 year explosion on the Australian music scene.

“The pace at which the group’s career continued from its inception at the first Australian Popstars TV show auditions to the completion of a 3rd single from their second album Play It Like That has taken its toll.”

The group exited the industry in a beautifully noughties way: with a live farewell concert on Channel V. There were tears from both the singers and the screaming audience, and hosts Osher Gunsberg (then Andrew G, and long-haired) and James Mathison even suited up for the occasion. Seriously, there were bow ties involved.

Bardot's farewell concert. James Mathison in a bow tie. A red bow tie. Image: Getty.

It was widely assumed that the band had crumbled over Sophie Monk's solo ambitions, but the members later revealed that Sally wasn't keen to continue, either.

As Sally told FHM in 2004, "I don't know whether I should say this, but I wanted out for a long time. Sophie and I both knew that we were going to fulfil the last album and then move on, but Sophie stayed with the management, and continued on."

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But other members of the band were blindsided by the break-up.

"I was devastated! All I ever dreamed of was to be in a girl band, and to think I actually got it and two years later it was taken away from me," Tiffani told Stellar. "Out of the blue came the announcement that Sophie didn’t want to be in the band anymore and that’s when the whole she-said-she-said came about. Every girl will tell you something different about how it ended."

Belinda has said in multiple interviews that she wasn't ready for a "break" either and regrets signing the statement.

“We hadn’t even finished promoting our second album. We had a whole year booked of really amazing gigs and performances. We were just about to head off to South Africa – the show had just aired over there and gone really well. We were booked for the second Rumba Festival," she told news.com.au. "And then it all just suddenly … ceased.

She added that the experience eventually turned her off the industry altogether: "I was so heartbroken about what happened with Bardot and how it all went down … I don’t sing and dance anymore."

Bardot: Where are they now?

With the exception of Sally, the band members all launched solo careers, to varying success.

Those born after 1995 are likely to know Sophie Monk for almost anything other than her Popstar beginnings.

That's because, in the years post-Bardot, she's had a cracking career, including a brief stint as a Hollywood actress (Date Movie and Entourage), a hosting gig on KIIS radio, and on TV dating show Love Island. Oh, and of course, as The Bachelorette. Sophie appeared on the show in 2017, and ultimately chose millionaire publican Stu Laundy for her final rose. The pair split in January 2018.

LISTEN: Sophie Monk opens up to Mia Freedman about her time with Bardot, and why she always felt like an outcast.

Sophie isn't fond of reflecting on her Bardot days. Speaking to The Daily Telegraph in 2015, she said she wouldn't be surprised if the overnight fame left her with PTSD. She also spoke of constant competition between her bandmates.

"It was worse than high school because the girls were smarter. They were a bit older than me too. I’m sure they were messing around, but I was so innocent back then. I don’t speak to the girls anymore, it’s like school, we grew apart. We were in a competition with that band, you know how it is with young girls," she said.

Tiffani Wood launched a solo career, first with record label Warner Music, then via her own independent Mudhoney Records, peaking at Number 5 with a 2006 cover of 'I Touch Myself'. Since then she's become a mum to six children and is now a private vocal coach, offering lessons through Tiffani Wood Singing Studios in the Gold Coast, Queensland.

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Belinda Chapple, too, went on to a solo career. She then moved on to stage production and was the creator and creative director of stage show, Sydney After Dark. A year ago, Belinda relocated to Singapore where she heads up the design business House of Chapple Interiors.

"I live up the road from the old HMV store where we once did a signing for hundreds of fans," she told Stellar. "Now when I walk past, I think, if someone had told me that I’d live down the road in 20 years’ time and no one will know who you are..." she laughed. "When you’re in the thick of it, you forget how life can be. Fame really is so fickle."

Katie Underwood ended up having success in the dance music genre, including a 2002 Top 10 single with Aussie duo Disco Montego called 'Beautiful'. She released a debut studio album in 2009 and joined Tiffani Wood in the cast of the musical Valentino the same year. She's now a meditation teacher in Melbourne and mum of twin daughters, to whom she gave birth in 2011.

Sally Polihronas turned to the commercial side of the entertainment industry, working as a live event producer and marketing director. She's currently the director and co-founder of television chat software company.

As for Chantelle Barry, in 2001, she relocated to LA and later played a small part in the remake of 90210, starred in a TV show called Miss 2059 and had some other roles voice acting.

Talk of a possible reunion.

Whispers of a possible Bardot reunion have been swirling around for a while now.

And according to Belinda, the band were very close to organising a reunion at one point when Katie, Sally, Tiffani and she discussed it on a four-way call. However, Sophie Monk did not take part.

“We got really close to doing something as the four of us – we’d had a no from Sophie’s management – but Sally’s not interested anymore," she told news.com.au. "She’s busy with family, with her two little ones.”

That said, a reunion is not completely out of question, according to Chapple. Particularly after the recent three-member Zoom performance.

"The video was really on the fly and unrehearsed, but once we did it we thought, ‘Ooh, this is nice!’" she told news.com.au. "We are talking... and we might do something further down the track for the fans."

This post was originally published on October 11, 2019, and updated on April 22, 2020. 

Feature image: Getty.

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