How Mel Sykes led a generation of glamorous ’90s pin-ups who are still making millions from lingerie range to incredible bikini body

IF the nineties feel like yesterday to you, don’t freak out.

The decade is back in fashion: baggy jeans, retro t-shirts and even Buzz Lightyear are back.

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Mel Sykes, beer commercial beauty turned TV starCredit: Alan Strutt/Celebrity Pictures
In her 20s, she quickly became the darling of men's magazines, showing off her fantastic figure in magazines like FHM and Maxim.

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In her 20s, she quickly became the darling of men’s magazines, showing off her fantastic figure in magazines like FHM and Maxim.Credit: Photos of celebrities

But the glamorous female pin-ups of that era never went out of style.

Model and radio personality Kelly Brook recently revealed that she’s still making news when she announced her engagement to Jeremy Parisi.

And she’s not the only beauty of the decade thriving today. In the new series, we talk about the strong women of the nineties, revealing the secret of long-term success.

Today we will see how the beer commercial beauty turned into a TV star Melanie Sykes.

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“Would you like some cereal in this, my love?”

It was the line that launched Mel Sykes’ career, including her plunging pink dress, model look and practical Nordic accent.

In a 1996 ad, she showed her driving an ice cream van and serving a frothy pint of Boddingtons to a sweaty jogger who waded through the desert to get to her.

In 2017, the Lancashire beauty, now 51, appeared in another commercial for the brewery looking slightly older.

She captioned the photos on Instagram: “Grinning like a Lancashire cat at my reunion with Boddingtons Bitter 21 years later. I’m buzzing and so happy to be part of the team. Brings back great memories.”

A lot happened between them.

In her 20s, she quickly became the darling of men’s magazines, showing off her fantastic figure in magazines like FHM and Maxim.

In 1999, she was ranked #10 in FHM’s 100 Sexiest Women. Then number one was Sarah Michelle Gellar, the star of the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, followed by Louise Nurding – now Redknapp – and Kelly Brook.

But she always refused to pose nude – until 2011, when, deciding that she was in the best shape of her life, she undressed for Esquire magazine.

Mel’s career began by working alongside Johnny Vaughan and Denise Van Outen on Channel 4’s Big Breakfast in 1997.

Then, in 2002, she joined forces with the late television legend Des O’Connor for their daytime show Today with Des and Mel.

Following Des’s death at the age of 88 in 2020, Mel posted a rapturous tribute saying, “When he chose me as his co-host, it was one of the greatest days of my professional life.

“We worked long hours but always laughed a lot, not least because when it was show time he always told me I looked like a mugger dog!”

In a 1996 ad, she showed her driving an ice cream van and serving a frothy pint of Boddingtons to a sweaty jogger who crossed the desert to get to her.

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In a 1996 ad, she showed her driving an ice cream van and serving a frothy pint of Boddingtons to a sweaty jogger who crossed the desert to get to her.1 credit
Mel's career began by working alongside Johnny Vaughan and Denise Van Outen on Channel 4's Big Breakfast since 1997.

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Mel’s career began by working alongside Johnny Vaughan and Denise Van Outen on Channel 4’s Big Breakfast since 1997.1 credit

The show ran for four years and was canceled in 2006.

By then, Mel had become the mother of two boys, Roman and Valentino, with her first husband, actor Daniel Caltagirone, whom she married in 2001.

They separated in 2008 and divorced the following year.

Mel was a few months short of her 43rd birthday when she married toy boy Jack Cockings, then 27, in May 2013 after dating on Twitter.

But in November of that year, Mel was booked for a mundane assault after the police were called into an argument with a roofer.

The warning was later withdrawn and removed from official records.

Mel has since said, “I’m not a violent person, I’m not capable of that.”

She and Jack separated after seven months, but didn’t divorce until 2016, when Mel said she’s been “okay for a few years” and that the divorce was the “easy” part.

The hardest part was, “Marrying the wrong person.”

However, in terms of work, Mel became stronger and stronger.

She first appeared on ITV’s Loose Women in October 2005 and has been a regular guest presenter and panelist ever since.

Her impressive TV resume also includes hosting The Great Pottery Throw Down, appearing on Celebrity MasterChef and winning The Great Celebrity Bake Off in 2018 with a cake that looked like Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.

Then she said: “It took 47 years to win something. Hopefully now I’ll be on the ball.”

Like Des O’Connor, she paired with comedian Alan Carr, with whom she hosted the BBC Radio 2 show from 2010 to 2012, and has a longtime partnership with chef Gino d’Campo.

In 1999, Mel was ranked #10 in FHM magazine's 100 Sexiest Women.

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In 1999, Mel was ranked #10 in FHM magazine’s 100 Sexiest Women.
In 2002, she joined forces with the late television legend Des O'Connor for their daytime show Today with Des and Mel.

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In 2002, she joined forces with the late television legend Des O’Connor for their daytime show Today with Des and Mel.1 credit

She and the Italian TV presenter made four Let’s Dine with Gino and Mel series on ITV, as well as three additional Christmas versions.

In 2014, she went to the jungle to participate in the 14th episode of the TV series I’m a Celebrity. . . Get me out of here! Mel finished in third place behind X Factor singer Jake Quickenden and winner superbike racer Carl Fogarty.

And last year, she and Love Actually star Joanna Page were announced as the new hosts of the BBC One consumer series Buy Good for Less.

But Mel is not just a talented TV and radio host and cake baker.

She has been a brand ambassador for Head & Shoulders, Matalan and Morrisons.

Incredible bikini body

Mel also used her business skills to launch her own range of lingerie and lingerie alongside former high street giant Debenhams.

Of course, it helps that she has kept her incredible body in a bikini.

She underwent breast augmentation surgery in 2011 and says her youthful appearance owes a lot to her genes. Speaking in 2014, she said, “Both my mom and my grandma still look amazing, so I hope to age gracefully.”

In terms of diet, Mel drinks celery juice every day to aid digestion, avoids dairy, and watches his sugar intake.

In 2020, she celebrated three years of sobriety.

For exercise, Mel alternates yoga with weights, emphasizing that core strength and flexibility are the key to “a happier, more active life.”

She took up fitness while still married to Daniel because it gave her time for herself away from her hectic work and family life.

Last year, she wrote: “I just celebrated my 51st birthday and I feel better and better.” She also uses daily affirmations and meditates to get rid of her anxiety. As for her personal life, there were ups and downs.

In 2020, Mel spent a holiday in Venice, Italy with handsome gondolier Riccardo Simionato, then 23 years old.

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In 2020, Mel spent a holiday in Venice, Italy with handsome gondolier Riccardo Simionato, then 23 years old.1 credit
In 2014, she went to the jungle to participate in the 14th episode of the TV series I'm a Celebrity.  .  .  Get me out of here!

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In 2014, she went to the jungle to participate in the 14th episode of the TV series I’m a Celebrity. . . Get me out of here!Credit: Rex Features

In 2017, Kristen Bell Tattoos reported that she had been dating pop star Olly Murs, who is 14 years her junior, for a year now.

A source told us: “They were both identified so that no one would know. It was a little at times, and there was a real physical attraction between them.”

Two years later, we reported that she secretly dated comedian Alan Partridge Steve Coogan after the pair hit it off at the launch party for his movie Stan & Ollie, about comedy legends Laurel and Hardy.

It was rumored that Mel canceled it, presumably because Steve was “a little bit on his own” and didn’t agree.

A source told us at the time, “They were together for at least six months.

“They were close but never got too serious.”

In 2020, she said she would like to find a “good man”, but added, “Unfortunately, in all walks of life, most, not all, but most men are quite primitive and disappointing.”

However, that same year, she spent a holiday in Venice, Italy with the handsome gondolier Riccardo Simionato, who was then 23 years old.

They reunited in London last September and looked much loved as they walked down the street holding hands and hugging.

Her buddy Alan Carr recently joked that her romance would encourage British women looking for love to fly to Italy.

He said, “I called her and said, ‘I hope you’re being paid by the Venice Tourist Board.’

“Many Injuries”

This year she started painting and just last week posted one of her watercolors on Instagram – it was like a scene in Venice with a row of gondolas.

More recently, Mel boldly opened up about being diagnosed with autism.

She said last November, “I know what makes me autistic and that’s the core of who I am and who I’ve always been, and I think I’m great.”

She added that she didn’t talk about the condition of the “column inches” but because she wanted to help “anyone who’s been diagnosed who’s a little confused about it.”

In an Instagram post earlier this month, Mel revealed she suffers from agoraphobia – the fear of open or crowded places – after “many injuries and a nervous breakdown in January.”

She went on to say that she used meditation beads, CBD – the non-psychoactive ingredient in cannabis – and breathing techniques to get through it.

In the serene shot, she looked out of the pool at the stunning mountains around Val Gardena in northern Italy.

She added: “My late diagnosis of autism has changed my life for the better.

“I just needed to work and I will continue to do so. This time I came first.

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“For everyone who is feeling stuck right now, know that you are not alone and know that you will reach better horizons.

“If I can, you can.”

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