A vocalist, columnist, and television personality, Kerry Katona has been a focus of tabloid attention ever since she gained recognition as a member of the all-girl pop group Atomic Kitten. Born in Warrington, Cheshire, England, in 1980, Katona had a troubled childhood largely stemming from her mother’s manic depression and attempted suicide, as well as abuse by several of her mother’s boyfriends. Subsequently, Katona spent a number of years in foster care until age 16. She left high school around the same time and lived on her own supporting herself through a number of jobs, including time spent as a glamour model and exotic dancer. In 1999, a friend brought her to the attention of producers at Liverpool’s Motor Museum Studios, where former Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark frontman Andrew McCluskey was auditioning members for the all-girl Automatic Kitten group. Katona made the cut and even helped rename the band Atomic Kitten in the process. The band had some immediate success with the singles “Right Now'” and “See Ya”; however, subsequent singles did not draw much public interest and their label, Innocent Records, considered dropping the group, but instead opted to release the single “Whole Again” in late 1999.
Around this time, two things happened to Katona that helped spur a period of increasing press scrutiny. First, she began a relationship with Bryan McFadden, a vocalist in the boy band Westlife. Second, a nude photograph of Katona surfaced in a British tabloid, seeming to contradict her perceived bubblegum pop image. Katona drew even more press coverage when she and McFadden confirmed their relationship in an issue of Hello magazine. Soon after, Katona announced she was pregnant and leaving Atomic Kitten. Ironically, after Katona was replaced in Atomic Kitten by former Preciousvocalist Jenny Frost, “Whole Again” reached number one on the pop charts and propelled the band to international success.
By 2002, Katona — now Kerry McFadden — had given birth to her first daughter, Molly Marie McFadden, and married Bryan McFadden, when another tabloid report claimed McFadden had a one-night stand with an exotic dancer during his bachelor party. Despite this, the newlyweds remained together and Katona eventually gave birth to a second daughter, Lily-Sue McFadden, in 2003. Katona also began to seek out such varied career opportunities as hosting several television shows, writing a column for OK! magazine, and appearing on the Survivor-inspired reality show I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! However, in 2004 McFadden left Katona in a highly publicized split that allegedly threw Katona into a period of depression and drug abuse, issues she eventually discussed in her 2006 autobiography, Kerry: Too Much, Too Young. In February of 2007, Katona married taxi driver Mark Croft and six days after the wedding gave birth to their daughter, Heidi Elizabeth Croft. A few months later, the couple were held hostage by robbers in their home, an event that purportedly spurred Katona to seek treatment for bipolar disorder worsened by the attack. In 2007, she released her first fiction novel, Tough Love.