They sang 'friendship never ends'. But, sadly, that would not seem to be the case when it comes to the Spice Girls.
Yesterday, to great fanfare, and with megawatt smiles, the most successful girl group of all time announced that they are reforming for a valedictory tour, 24 years after Ginger, Posh, Sporty, Baby and Scary first lined up to enthral a generation of teenage girls according to DailyMail.
Well, four of them are, anyway. Posh, aka Victoria Beckham, wife of former football star David and now a serious fashion designer and mother of four, was conspicuous by her absence yesterday.
And, as the Mail can reveal, the negotiations that led to this announcement have been fraught, to say the least.
According to a well-placed source, there has been a vicious falling-out between Mel B, Mel C, Emma Bunton and Geri Horner with Victoria and their former manager, Simon Fuller.
So much so that it led to a four-letter text being sent to Victoria by Mel B earlier this year.
The bad feeling seems to centre on a sense of betrayal the remaining four feel about Victoria, 44, and Fuller, 58, pulling out of the tour, having apparently said at a meeting in February that they were fully on board.
Stirring up tensions further, according to our source, was Victoria posing in Spice-inspired outfits for her Vogue shoot earlier this summer, which drove Mel B into a foul-mouthed rage.
Last week, with a typically outrageous flourish, Mel B dressed up as Victoria Beckham for a Halloween party, holding a sign to indicate that she wouldn't tour even if the fans begged. She added that they have a 'love hate relationship'.
Missing Spice wasn't mentioned in the official video yesterday, although she did send out a friendly tweet about her former bandmates.
However, despite relations reaching an all-time low, the four remaining Spice Girls are hoping desperately that she might join them on stage for at least one night out of the six.
One source closely connected to their camp tells me that the current thinking is that she might do it to 'remind David of the woman he fell in love with', while friends of Victoria scoff at the idea, saying hell will freeze over before she puts on those platform trainers again.
So what is the truth about the comeback — which may net them £8 million or more each? And will they really be able to sell out Wembley Stadium without Posh on board?
SAY YOU'LL BE THERE . . . AT WEMBLEY
Mel B's enthusiasm for this tour is certainly related to the fact that she is absolutely broke after exiting her marriage to film producer Stephen Belafonte.
She was recently ordered to pay Belafonte £270,000 in legal fees and more than £3,000 a month in child support payments by a judge.
Some funds will come in from a memoir, Brutally Honest, which comes out later this month, and she was given a pay rise by Simon Cowell for acting as a judge on America's Got Talent.
But Mel's lawyers did reveal in court last year that she had spent all of her £38 million fortune, and that she and Belafonte didn't even have the cash to pay their tax bills at the end of each year.
You can see how the prospect of earning up to £10 million apiece for a mini tour would appeal.
However, plans to get the 'girls' together again actually pre-date the end of Mel B's unhappy marriage. The first mutterings came in 2015 when the possibility of a reunion in 2016 to mark the 20th anniversary of their first hit, Wannabe, was mooted.
Victoria said no, but the rest were on board. Then, in April 2016, Mel C said that she didn't want to be part of it, either.
In July, the remaining three announced a one-off gig in Hyde Park later that summer. Both Mel C and Victoria reportedly threatened legal action over it.
By September of 2016, another idea had come into view — a TV talent show with the prize being a chance to join the remaining Spice Girls on Stage. In January last year, Geri said that she couldn't do the reunion — because she had just had son Monty with husband Christian Horner.
But by April 2017 the idea of a tour started to gain momentum again as Mel B's second marriage fell apart.
There was a meeting last February at Geri's home in London, where they all — even Posh — agreed to do something, which was the genesis of the current plans.
WHO REALLY, REALLY WANTS THE CASH?
Mel B, 43, obviously, is in dire need of funds. She will be paid £2.15 million for the 2019 series of America's Got Talent and has three daughters by three different men: Phoenix, 19, by first husband Jimmy Gulzar; Angel, 11, by Eddie Murphy; and Madison, seven, by second husband Belafonte.
Emma Bunton, 42, has a day job as a DJ at Heart FM and is said to be worth £21 million. She and fiance Jade Jones, formerly of the boy band Damage, have two sons, Tate, 11, and Beau, seven, and live in North London.
Mel C, 44, is said to be worth £27 million and had a successful career as a solo artist after leaving the band. She has a daughter, Scarlet, nine, by property developer Thomas Starr and is now dating her manager, Joe Marshall.
Geri, 46, meanwhile, is said to be worth £30 million after a post-Spice career which includes singing, writing children's books and presenting a BBC singing competition. She has daughter Bluebell, 12, from a relationship with screenwriter Sacha Gervasi and son Monty, 22 months, from her marriage to motor racing executive Christian Horner.
FEUDING WITH THE SPICE SVENGALI
Enter Simon Fuller, a softly spoken Svengali figure with a perma-tan and beautifully veneered teeth, who managed the Spice Girls back in the day.
He owns the Pop Idol TV franchise and the publishing rights to Elvis's back catalogue, and is also a major investor in various parts of Brand Beckham.
He introduced Posh and Becks in the Players Lounge at Manchester United. And although he was sacked by the Spice Girls in 1998 — rumour has it that it was over his relationship with Emma Bunton, which they both denied — Fuller was re-hired by Victoria in 2002 and remains her manager. From 2007 until this summer he also managed her husband.
Fuller came to the meeting at Geri's house in February. A source said: 'They all said they wanted to tour, and Simon Fuller said he would sort it.
'Then he said let's just sort out some Spice Girls rights issues because apparently it was in a bit of a mess. So they all signed various legal documents, and the next thing you know Victoria releases a range of Spice Girls T-shirts for Comic Relief and he announces a Spice Girls animated film, which was fine with everyone.
'Then they were waiting to hear from Simon about a tour, and the girls started to have trouble getting hold of him.'
They were furious — and then Victoria announced she wouldn't be touring again, after all.
'They felt they had fallen for Simon Fuller's "divide and conquer" again, which apparently he used when he was their manager the first time around.
'So Melanie C suggested they all sign with her company, Modest Management.
'The plan was to announce the tour on Thursday, but Jonathan Ross then posted on Instagram that he would be having the Spice Girls on his show this weekend, and all hell broke loose and it had to be brought forward.'
A spokesman for Fuller says it is 'mistaken' to talk of a falling out and adds that Fuller is involved in the tour in partnership with Modest Management.
Mrs Beckham's spokeswoman says she never promised to tour, and that the T-shirts are 'nothing to do' with it.
VIVA FOREVER WITH ADDED SWEETNESS
The four remaining women say that they couldn't be more thrilled to announce their stadium tour next summer. In a statement they said: 'Bringing girl power and our message of friendship and love back to the stage feels more relevant than ever. We hope everyone can join us for one big Spice Girls party!'
Mel B posted: 'I've said it sooo many times I'm beside myself it's actually happening yipppeeee. I'm now properly screaming it from every rooftop — me and my girls will see you all on stage!!'
A source said: 'They are bonded by wanting to do it and although there is a massive history of fall-outs, they have been burying the hatchet with each other left, right and centre.
'That said, they are all worried about what Mel B is going to do or say next.' (They found her dressing up as Posh Spice for Halloween hugely embarrassing).
'There is a feeling of now or never about this reunion. They are coming up to 50 and feel that this will be it — it's a last chance to do it.'
Victoria Beckham gushed in a tweet: 'I won't be joining my girls on stage again, but being in the Spice Girls was a hugely important part of my life, and I wish them so much love and fun as they go back on tour next year.
'I know they will put on an amazing show and the fantastic fans past and present are going to have a wonderful time!'
THE MISSING MRS MONEYBAGS
Victoria and Mel B haven't got on for many years — indeed, their differing personalities were among the bigger problems for the band in their heyday. 'The main battle line in the band has been Mel B and Victoria for years,' says a source.
I'm told Victoria has always found Mel B loud and coarse, and that Mel B (like the others) doesn't feel Mrs Beckham has much musical talent. Victoria was humiliated in the early days to discover her microphone would be turned down or even off during gigs.
The two women fell out badly during the Spice Girls' last comeback tour in 2007, and didn't speak for at least two years afterwards.
Mel B was then apparently stung when Victoria refused to lend her any clothes from her fashion label when she was trying to get her own reality TV show off the ground.
Then Victoria started saying no to all invitations to perform.
She explained: 'I enjoy what I'm doing now so much more. Being in the Spice Girls was fantastic, but I was never going to be the best singer and it wasn't my passion.'
With a personal fortune of £240 million, she doesn't need the cash — although her fashion empire, which was launched in 2008, continues to make huge losses.
Mel B said yesterday: 'It's just the four of us, but she might join us at some point. I hope so. I think it would be a shame if she didn't.
'She's got a full-on life with her commitments and the fashion line and her kids, so she's not committing just yet.'
A source said: 'Victoria was as nice as pie to Mel C at the Global Gift Gala on Sunday, but that does not mean she is going to go on stage with them.'
HORRORS ON THE LAST TOUR
Lessons must surely have been learned from the disasters that dogged the band's last tour of America and the UK — which was cut short in February 2008.
Mooted dates in Sydney, Beijing, Cape Town and Buenos Aires never took place.
During rehearsals in 2007, Emma Bunton was in tears, intimidated by everyone's egos and (as a new mother to baby Beau) plain exhausted. Geri drove them all to distraction by stopping a video shoot so that she could meditate.
Victoria infuriated them by constantly chatting on her phone, mostly to David, although at one point she said: 'I had to get that — it was Donatella (Versace).'
She apparently behaved very much the superstar, with a retinue of bodyguards and assistants.
Mel C had been bullied into coming on board. She said later: 'They basically said if I didn't want to do it then they were going to do it anyway . . .
'I didn't want to be the person who stopped it being the complete five. I was scared that I would be the villain.'
On tour, each Spice travelled with her own entourage.
Geri hated the atmosphere and the internal politics, and was the first to say that she was thinking of quitting.
Sources said she had issues with Victoria, in particular, down to simple jealousy over how famous Mrs Beckham has become.
And then Mel B said that she, too, wanted out. She said yesterday: 'I wasn't in a very good space with my marriage and I didn't feel I could go on any more, living in this fake world.
'It was my fault, so I was determined to get us back together and I'm still determined it will be five at one point.'
Disappointingly, their comeback single, Headlines, in 2007 was a flop, limping into the charts at number 20, having sold a feeble 5,000 copies.