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What actually happened to Bardot, the band that inspired the new series Paper Dolls?

“He said you’re not going to make a cent, basically,"

While Paper Dolls is technically a scripted drama, it was created by Belinda Chapple who was famously part of the all-girl band Bardot.

As most millennials already know, Bardot was formed on one of Australia’s first reality TV shows, Popstars. Of course, Paper Dolls follows a similar sort of premise.

Paper Dolls sees a girl band put together on a reality show, and the official synopsis for the new series reads: “At the cusp of the new millennium, five aspiring singers are thrust into the spotlight in pursuit of pop-stardom and fame.”

Paper Dolls. Paramount+.

So, it’s not hard for viewers to draw parallels between Chapple’s real-life experience of being a part of Bardot, and the storyline of Paper Dolls.

However, it’s been over two decades since Bardot was formed, so even if you’re familiar with their story, it’s easy to draw blanks. So, in light of the new series, we take a trip down memory lane to find out what exactly happened with Bardot.

What happened at the time?

Channel Seven released its first season of Popstars in 1999. The series saw hundreds of young women audition to be part of an all-girl group. It was Chantelle Barry, Katie Underwood, Belinda Chapple, Sally Polihronas and Sophie Monk who were picked and formed Bardot.

Two weeks later, Chantelle was accused of stealing and kicked out of the band, and Tiffani Wood replaced her.

Bardot. Instagram.

Bardot had phenomenal success, and their first single Poison sold 60,000 copies in its first week and went on to achieve double platinum status. Their self-titled album hit the charts at number one too, making them the first Australian act to debut both the single and album at the top.

The band’s success continued until April 2002, when they suddenly issued a statement saying they were taking a “well-earned break”. Bardot never returned.

What actually happened?

Details around Bardot’s split were shrouded in mystery until earlier this year, when Belinda Chapple released a book about her experience with the band, titled The Girl in the Band: Bardot – a Cautionary Tale. 

“I’m almost 50, so I don’t really have any fear around being blacklisted from the entertainment industry and the people who run it. It’s a very honest account. It’s what happened,” Belinda said of deciding to release the book.

Belinda Chapple. Instagram.

In The Girl in the Band: Bardot – a Cautionary Tale, Belinda said that the hundreds of contestants on Popstars were whittled down to just ten finalists and they were given a contract to sign.

Belinda took her contract to her lawyer. “He said you’re not going to make a cent, basically,” she reflected.

The contract allegedly stated that the women would receive between $25 and $35 a day to live off, and have their basic living expenses taken care of.

Against her lawyer’s advice, Belinda signed the contract and Bardot was formed.

As we already know, Bardot went on to be very successful, which meant the women had gruelling schedules but received very little money.

Then, when the band took a ‘break’ (ended) in 2002, Belinda said she was basically blindsided. According to the book, she believed that management decided to end Bardot so that they could focus on Sophie Monk’s solo career.

Paper Dolls airs on Paramount+ Australia from Sunday, 3 December.

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