Michelle Gayle

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Michelle Gayle
Michelle Gayle in Swindon.jpg
Background information
Birth nameMichelle Patricia Gayle
Born (1971-02-02) 2 February 1971 (age 50)
OriginLondon, England, United Kingdom
GenresR&B, soul
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter, author, actress
Years active1988–present
  • RCA (1993–1997)
  • EMI (1997–1999)
  • N2 Records (2003–2005)

Michelle Patricia Gayle (born 2 February 1971) is a British singer, songwriter, actress and author. Gayle had success as a soul and R&B singer in the 1990s. She achieved seven top 40 singles in the UK Singles Chart, her two biggest hits to date being "Sweetness" (number 4, September 1994) and "Do You Know" (number 6, February 1997).[1] She released two Top 40 albums through RCA Records but they parted company in 1997, and although Gayle has recorded other albums, they have not been released.

As an actress, Gayle is best known for her work on television, in particular playing Hattie Tavernier in BBC's EastEnders from 1990 to 1993. She has also had various roles in film and theatre and played Belle in the West End musical Beauty and the Beast in 1999. She has taken part in several celebrity-based reality television shows, and, in June 2007, she became a panellist for ITV's topical chatshow Loose Women.

Gayle branched into writing and the rights to her first novel were acquired by Walker Books in 2010. The book, Pride and Premiership, was published on 5 May 2011.[2]

She was married to ex-footballer Mark Bright for ten years, but the couple separated in 2007.

It was reported in January 2021 Gayle will be joining ITV's Birds of a Feather replacing Pauline Quirke character.

Acting, presenting and personal appearances[edit]



Gayle was born in 1971 in the northwest part of London, in the Harlesden area.[3][4] She attended the Barbara Speake Stage School in Acton, west London, at a time when Naomi Campbell, Amma Asante and Kwame Kwei-Armah were also attending.[5] She first became publicly known when she appeared in the children's BBC television programme Grange Hill in 1988 and 1989 as Fiona Wilson, who was most notably part of a rap duo named Fresh 'n' Fly.[6]


Gayle later appeared as an extra in TV Drama London's Burning and in the Children's ITV television programme Press Gang in 1990 as a background member of the news team, and that same year she won the role of Hattie Tavernier in the popular BBC soap opera EastEnders. The introduction of the Tavernier family heralded the first time that an entire family had joined the programme all at once. Their introduction was also a well-intentioned attempt to portray a wider range of black characters than had previously been achieved on the show.[7] Gayle's character remained in the show for three years as Ian Beale's PA and was featured in an array of storylines including being abandoned by her fiancé Steve Elliot (Mark Monero) and suffering a miscarriage as a result. However, music was always Gayle's first passion, and in 1993 she left EastEnders to pursue a singing career.[8]

1999 onwards[edit]

In 1999, Gayle played Belle, the lead female, in Disney's Beauty and the Beast, and she returned to television acting in 2003, guest-starring in the BBC television dramas Doctors and Holby City. She went on to play the role of Lara in the Five soap opera, Family Affairs (2005), and played the lead female character, Yvonne, in the film Joy Division, which was released in November 2006. The film tells the story of a German boy who is orphaned in World War II and then groomed as a KGB sleeper. Gayle starred in Jason Barrett's British feature film The Naked Poet as character Joanne, which was screened in London's Mayfair Hotel December 2011.

On stage, she played the role of Brenda in Angie Le Mar's The Brothers at the Hackney Empire in April 2006, and she went on to play Jill in Pat Ashworth's ensemble stage production, Mum's the Word, which toured the UK from February to June 2007.[9] She has recently been filming the hit CBBC show Wolfblood as Imara.

In March 2018, she began playing the role of as Alison in the musical Son of a Preacher Man, which is based on the life of Dusty Springfield.[10]

She is currently playing the role of Hermione Granger in the West End production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

Presenting and reality television[edit]

Gayle was a contestant on ITV's reality-television show Reborn in the USA, competing against artists such as Elkie Brooks, Sonia, Gina G, Leee John and Tony Hadley. Gayle made it to the final and finished second behind Hadley. In 2004, Gayle presented the UMA Awards with ex-EastEnder Gary Beadle,[11] and in 2005, she appeared as a celebrity mentor on the Five documentary Pushy Parents.

In March 2006, she took part in the fourth series of the Channel 4 reality-television show The Games competing against various other celebrities in a series of sports events. Gayle came third in the competition and raised more than £5,000 for her chosen charity, the Willow Foundation.[12] She later became a guest panellist on ITV's topical chatshow Loose Women, in June 2007.

In June 2009, it was announced that Gayle would be one of several celebrities competing in Dancing on Wheels, BBC's spin-off show to the popular reality television competition Strictly Come Dancing. Dancing on Wheels paired able-bodied celebrities with those in wheelchairs. The winning pair represented the UK at the Wheelchair Dance Sport European Championships in Israel in October 2009.[13] Gayle and partner Harry Maule reached the semi-finals, but were beaten in the dance-off by Diana Morgan-Hill and Olympic swimmer Mark Foster.

Musical career[edit]


Before she gained commercial success, Gayle sang with a rap duo called R-MOR-FUS, performing gigs at various clubs and low-key venues.[14] In 1993, while she was still on the cast of EastEnders, Gayle signed with RCA Records and launched herself as a solo artist. Her debut single "Looking Up" reached number 11 hit. By 1994, she had her biggest-selling single to date, "Sweetness", which reached number 4,[15] spent 16 weeks in the UK Singles Chart and was certified silver, selling more than 300,000 copies. Gayle had further chart success in 1994 with the number-26 hit "I'll Find You"; in 1995 with the number-16 "Freedom"; and the number-11 "Happy Just to Be with You" which sampled Chic's "Good Times". These five singles were taken from Gayle's self-titled debut album Michelle Gayle, which was released in 1994, peaked at number 30 in the UK Albums Chart, and was certified gold.

Gayle also appeared on the Childliners charity record "The Gift of Christmas" in 1995, alongside acts such as Backstreet Boys, Boyzone, E.Y.C., Sean Maguire, Deuce, Ultimate Kaos, Let Loose, East 17, Peter Andre, MN8, Dannii Minogue and many more. It peaked at number 9.[16]

Gayle returned in 1997 with her sixth single, "Do You Know", which reached number 6.[15] This was followed by the song "Sensational", which reached number 14. Both singles were taken from Gayle's second album, Sensational, which had multiple producers, and was recorded in both London and Los Angeles.[17] Despite Sensational being praised by critics, the album had disappointing sales. It entered the album chart at number 17, but quickly fell out of the top 40 the following week. Due to poor album sales, Gayle left RCA. During the time she was signed to the label, Gayle received three BRIT Award nominations: two in 1995 for 'Best Single' and 'Best Female Artist', and one in 1998 for 'Best Female Artist'.


Following her departure from RCA, Gayle signed with EMI. She recorded an album for that label, but due to an artist rostering re-shuffle, she had left the company by 1999 before the album was released. After leaving EMI in 1999, Gayle took to the West End stage and played Belle in Disney's Beauty and the Beast. After an extended break from show business to look after her son, Isaiah, Gayle began developing her music production company M Media Productions.[18] She also appeared on other artists' albums, including those of Ivan Matias, Me One, Shabba and Lemon D.[19]

In 2003, Gayle accepted the offer to appear in the reality television series Reborn in the USA, a televised singing competition where former British pop acts were transported to the US, with the hope of revitalising their music careers. Gayle finished second in the competition, taking runner-up position to Tony Hadley in the final. Following her success on the programme, Gayle began working on new material.[20]

Gayle reinvented herself as a UK R&B artist,[15] and worked on material for her third album with New York record producer Terence Dudley — famous for working on 50 Cent's album Get Rich or Die Tryin'.[18] At the end of 2004, Gayle appeared on several TV shows promoting the release of her new single, "Gotta Be Me", but the single was pulled before its release. In an interview with The Voice newspaper in April 2006, she divulged that she did make a new album, but her record company (N2 Records) folded.[21]

Eurovision 2008[edit]

Gayle was one of the participants of the pre-selection stage of Eurovision – Your Decision, which determined who the United Kingdom would send to the Eurovision Song Contest in Serbia on 24 May 2008. Gayle co-wrote her song, "Woo (U Make Me)", with Rashelle Davies and Morten Schjolin, and described it as "pop in essence, but with a very cool 60's vibe to it".[22] Gayle came second in the public vote on 1 March 2008, behind Andy Abraham.


During an interview with the Blackpool Gazette in February 2007, Gayle mentioned that she was in the process of writing her first novel. The plot involved an unpleasant TV talent-show judge who discovers he is dying. She said: "It's sort of fiction but not fiction but it is made up and true, so when you read it you'll see it's fictional but also real, and I hope it explains a few things about the pop business."[23] It was never published.

Walker Books acquired the rights to Gayle's novel, Pride and Premiership, in 2010 and the book was published on 5 May 2011.[24] The novel, aimed at a teen market, depicts the story of two girls who aspire to be WAGs, or wives/girlfriends of football players. Gayle, who was once married to a professional footballer, has commented, "In the time of Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice a woman had to get married to support herself. We’ve got to an age where a woman can support herself but still wants to marry a footballer to support her. I'm not WAG-bashing or footballer-bashing, I just want girls to make informed decisions about their future."[25]

Personal life[edit]

Gayle was married to ex-professional footballer and football pundit Mark Bright[26] for ten years, and had one son, Isaiah, with him. The couple separated in 2007 and officially divorced on 18 April 2008. Gayle is godmother to the daughter of the actress Jacqui Gordon-Lawrence, who played her on-screen mother, Etta Tavernier, in EastEnders.[20] Gayle is a teetotaller[27] and does not eat meat.[28] On 4 August 2011 it was announced on The Wright Stuff that she was pregnant. On Twitter, she announced the birth of her son, Luke, on 2 November 2011.


Michelle Gayle discography
Studio albums2
Compilation albums1


Title Album details Peak chart positions Certifications

Michelle Gayle 30 5 80
  • Released: 28 April 1997
  • Label: RCA/1st Avenue (#74321419322)
  • Formats: CS, CD
17 7 32
Looking Up
  • Released: 21 August 2000
  • Label: RCA/1st Avenue (#74321766792)
  • Formats: CD
"—" denotes items that did not chart or were not released in that territory.


Year Title Peak chart positions Certifications Album


1993 "Looking Up" 11 Michelle Gayle
1994 "Sweetness" 4 18 1 18 53 11 38 27 6 21
"I'll Find You" 26 8 3 79 24
1995 "Freedom" 16 6 2 38 31
"Happy Just to Be with You" 11 13 2 31 66 40 44 18
1997 "Do You Know?" 6 2 44 7 Sensational
"Sensational" 14 7 85 20
2004 "Got to Be Me" Non-album singles
2008 "Woo (U Make Me)"
2018 "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me"
"—" denotes items that did not chart or were not released in that territory.

B-sides and other tracks[edit]

  • "Say What's on Your Mind" ("Sweetness" B-side/Michelle Gayle album track)
  • "Tell Me" ("I'll Find You" B-side)
  • "I Thought I Was Your Lady" ("Happy Just to Be with You" B-side)
  • "Juicy" ("Sensational" B-side)
  • "Give Me a Try" ("Sensational" B-side)
  • "Sunshine After Rain" ("Sensational" B-side)
  • "Until You Come Back to Me" (Reborn in the USA album track)
  • "Love Me Tender" (Reborn in the USA album track)
  • "Got to Be Me" (unreleased single)
  • "Don't Want It" ("Got to Be Me" unreleased B-side)


  1. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 223. ISBN 978-1-904994-10-7.
  2. ^ Peet, Mal. Pride and Premiership: Amazon.co.uk: Michelle Gayle: Books. ISBN 978-1406330885.
  3. ^ Hugh Gregory (1995). Soul Music A-Z. Da Capo Press. p. 119. ISBN 9780306806438.
  4. ^ International Who's Who in Music. 2. Melrose Press. 1996. p. 209. ISBN 9780948875076.
  5. ^ "From Grange Hill to the valleys", The Guardian. URL last accessed on 2007-06-25.
  6. ^ "I Love 1978", BBC. URL last accessed on 2007-01-05
  7. ^ Brake, Colin (1995). EastEnders: The First 10 Years: A Celebration. BBC Books. ISBN 978-0-563-37057-4.
  8. ^ "HARD AT WORK", Daily Record. URL last accessed on 2009-07-19
  9. ^ "Mum’s the Word", The Stage. URL last accessed on 2007-02-11[dead link]
  10. ^ "Alice Barlow and Michelle Gayle to Join SON OF A PREACHER MAN UK Tour in 2018". Broadway World. 4 October 2017. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  11. ^ "BULLETS’N’BLING", The Voice; accessed 2007-01-05 Archived 28 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "Michelle Gayle raises £5,000 for Willow Foundation", Willowfoundation; accessed on 2007-02-11 Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ "Strictly Come Dancing 'on Wheels': new wheelchair version of dance show favourite", The Telegraph; accessed on 2009-07-11
  14. ^ Kingsley, Hilary (1990). The EastEnders Handbook. BBC books. ISBN 978-0-685-52957-7.
  15. ^ a b c "Michelle Gayle", BBC. URL last accessed on 2007-01-05. Archived 6 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ "Childliners", officialcharts.com. URL last accessed on 2008-02-26
  17. ^ Sally Stratton; Paul Sexton (21 June 1997). "U.K.'s 1st Avenue Takes A More 'American' Tack". Billboard. p. 83. ISSN 0006-2510.
  18. ^ a b "GOTTA BE ME Archived 28 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine", anglo plugging. URL last accessed on 2007-01-05
  19. ^ "Michelle Gayle written by Andrew Davis", Underground soul. URL last accessed on 2007-02-11 Archived 30 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ a b "MICHELLE MARK II", The Voice. URL last accessed on 2007-01-05 Archived 28 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ "LE MAR'S TALE", The Voice. URL last accessed on 2007-01-05 Archived 28 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ "Eurovision Your Decision", BBC; URL last accessed on 2008-02-26 Archived 3 March 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ "Michelle's a mum on move", Blackpool Gazette; accessed 2007-02-11[dead link]
  24. ^ "Walker acquires Wag title from Michelle Gayle", Bookseller.com; accessed 2010-04-09
  25. ^ "l"Michelle Gayle: Don't aspire to be a WAG – be your own woman", Liverpool Daily Post; accessed 2010-04-09 Archived 24 November 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ "Passion for sport", BBC. Accessed 2007-01-05.
  27. ^ Rookwood, Dan (4 July 2003). "My wife [Michelle Gayle] doesn't drink at all. She's tea-total". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 May 2009.
  28. ^ Come Dine With Me, Channel 4 22 December 2010
  29. ^ a b UK chart peaks:
  30. ^ UK R&B album chart peaks:
  31. ^ Scottish studio albums chart peaks:
  32. ^ a b "UK certified Awards Search". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved on 21 November 2020. Note: User needs to enter Michelle Gayle in the "Search BPI Awards" field and press Enter
  33. ^ UK dance singles chart peaks:
  34. ^ UK R&B singles chart peaks:
  35. ^ European singles chart peaks:
  36. ^ German singles chart peaks:
  37. ^ "Irish singles chart peaks". irishcharts.ie. Retrieved 18 November 2020. Note: User needs to click on the "Search Charts" tab. Then enter Michelle Gayle into the "Search Artists" field and press "Search".
  38. ^ "Dutch chart peaks". dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 21 November 2020.
  39. ^ "New Zealand chart peaks". charts.nz. Retrieved 21 November 2020.
  40. ^ Scottish singles chart peaks:
  41. ^ "Swiss chart peaks". swisscharts.com. Retrieved 21 November 2020.

External links[edit]