They entered last year’s X Factor as five solo artists and finished it as potentially the biggest boy band in Britain. Meet One Direction, the nation’s newest teen idols
The studio is brimming with hairspray, hormones and five topless One
Directioners as they get ready for our shoot. Grown women swoon while trying
to remember they’re probably (er, definitely, in some cases) old enough to
be the boys’ mothers.
Liam (the wise one), Louis (class clown), Zayn (mean and mysterious), Niall
(cute and cheeky) and Harry (that hair) lark around like typical teens,
perfecting dance moves, swigging Diet Coke and charming the knickers off
They’re properly lovely. And they’re on course to become Britain’s biggest boy
band with their debut single What Makes You Beautiful, which has “No1?
Easy!” written all over it. They’ve also just signed a lucrative advertising
deal with Nintendo which will line the pockets of their skinny jeans.
They might have only come third on last year’s X Factor, but the odds are on
One Direction (or, guffaw, Wand Erection, as they’re known on Twitter)
turning out to be the biggest success story from the series. Five teenage
lads are set to steamroller their way into a million girls’ hearts…
Zayn Malik is fast learning that life isn’t likely to be “normal” again for
some time. Even popping out to the shops is becoming a mission impossible,
especially with the advent of Twitter which means eagle-eyed fans can
mobilise the troops within minutes.
“If I’m out in London I’ve probably got about 20 minutes before the crowds are
there,” he says. “In my hometown of Bradford, it’s more like five.”
Of all the boys, 18-year-old Zayn is probably the most unassuming. So it can’t
have been easy dealing with his recent romance and break-up in the glare of
the public eye.
Many an eyebrow was raised when he started dating fellow X Factor finalist
Rebecca Ferguson. At 24, the mum-of-two is six years his senior, but both
insist the age gap had nothing to do with the end of their five-month
There’s definitely a chance me and Rebecca will get back together
“We’ve split on mutual terms because neither of us has time for a
relationship. But we’re still great friends,” he says.
“The age difference was never a problem. She would always tell me that I was
mature for my age.”
He maintains there was no pressure either from the record label, who were said
to fear that the relationship wasn’t good for the band’s image.
“No, nothing like that. It was just between me and her. It’s cool.”
Poor Zayn. He doesn’t look like a lad who’s relishing being footloose and
fancy free, and only describes himself as “pretty single”. We’d put money on
the lovebirds reuniting in the not-too-distant.
“Yeah, that’s definitely something we’ve discussed,” he admits. “Maybe when
we’re less busy we’ll hook back up.”
If there was a girl to catch his eye, Zayn admits to having a soft spot for
brunettes. But he’s never been tempted by some of the more brazen offers
from female admirers?
“Er, no! It’s quite off-putting when a girl is so forward. I find it a
turn-off,” he says. “But I’m normally out with friends so I’ve got my
wingmen to protect me.”
Zayn reckons the band have never been closer. And he can’t wait for their
homecoming performance on The X Factor during the live shows.
“It’s going to be really emotional. Whatever happens in the future, that’s
where it all started.”
His mop of curly hair alone has spawned a glut of internet appreciation pages
and helped install Harry Styles as the fans’ fave. And yes, the famous locks
are just as lush in the flesh.
But curls aside, it was 17-year-old Harry’s quiet word in X Factor winner Matt
Cardle’s ear on final night – the famous “P***ygate” incident – that
elevated him to legend status.
We ask him to explain – while looking us in the eye and keeping a straight
“I’ve got this well-rehearsed, word for word. Basically, me and Matt were
talking about Christmas presents for our mums and he said he wanted to get
her as many cats as he could. When he won, I told him he could get her as
many cats as he wanted now.”
A likely story.
I’m single and I don’t really have a type
“I didn’t have a clue it had been picked up by the cameras. It wasn’t until I
watched it back that I thought: ‘Ah no, now I’m going to have some
explaining to do,’” he confesses.
“I went to see my sister a few days later and a load of her uni friends were
having a party. All the guys were like: ‘Respect!’”
Having quit school and given up on A levels to pursue his pop career,
Cheshire-born Harry is having the time of his life.
“What 17-year-old boy wouldn’t like this? It still feels really weird, but
it’s a lot of fun. I’ve met so many nice people.”
Some more friendly than others, it would seem.
“I was in the park the other day and a woman ran up to me and asked for my
autograph. She handed me a pen and I asked her if she had a piece of paper.
She just looked at me and got out her boobs.”
Did he oblige?
“No! What do you take me for?”
Luckily, Harry doesn’t have a girlfriend to get jealous of the amorous
attentions of lust-filled fans. Form an orderly queue, girlies, because he’s
currently 100 per cent unattached.
“I’m single – I’m not looking, but if someone special came along then I’m not
“I like cute girls who are funny. I don’t really have a type but I do like
girls with short hair…”
Cue a generation of teens chopping off their tresses.
“…But I also like girls with long hair.”
Hold the scissors already! We think he’s keeping his options open.
Louis Tomlinson has been through a lot in the last 12 months. Not only is he a
part of Simon Cowell’s master plan to take over the charts, but he’s also
just ended his first long-term relationship and is nursing a broken heart.
Two months ago, 19-year-old Louis made the difficult decision to break up with
his girlfriend of 18 months, Hannah Walker. But he insists the split was
amicable and praises Hannah for being “so graceful about it all. Some girls
would have been bitter, but she’s been lovely.”
Louis insists he won’t go on the rebound and take home any groupies for some
I haven’t kissed a girl for two months
“I can’t tell you what the fans say they want to do to me,” he says, with mock
horror. “Call me old fashioned, but I like to get to know a girl before I
start a relationship. Besides, I’m still a bit heartbroken. I haven’t even
had a kiss since Hannah – it’s too early.”
Instead, Louis decided to get over the split by heading to Ibiza for the
weekend with a mate.
“I didn’t even pull in Ibiza!” he jokes. “But it’s the most rock and roll
thing I’ve done. We flew out in the evening, partied until the early hours, then
chilled out for the day before flying home. It was so good, but I was the
worse for wear the next day!”
Originally from Doncaster, Louis misses home, especially his sisters. “They
love that I’m in One Direction,” he says. “The two youngest ones,
seven-year-old twins, have posters of Harry and Simon Cowell by their beds.
I think they fancy Harry. Or maybe Simon?”
Despite all the pressure, Louis says the boys have so far remained grounded.
“I’m the untidy one,” he confesses. “I leave clothes everywhere including my
pants. But Niall farts all the time. They’re very loud and very smelly.”
Teenage boys. Delightful.
Cute, blond and armed with a dreamy Irish accent, Niall Horan can’t go far
wrong when it comes to wooing the opposite sex.
“My accent always works with girls,” he reveals. “They like it, I have no idea
And some of the ladies are known to get a bit saucy too.
“Girls can be graphic on Twitter,” he says. “But you don’t take it seriously.
I’ve had fans ask me to marry them. And I’ve said: ‘Yeah’. It makes their
day, and then you hope you won’t see them for a week.”
But despite the opportunity to take home as many girls as he’d like,
17-year-old Niall, from Mullingar, insists he’s not the type to “use girls
like that”. Instead he prefers the quiet life.
Do you know Brooke Vincent from Corrie?
“I actually look up to the likes of Michael Bublé, there’s never anything bad
about him in the papers.” There isn’t anything good either, Niall!
Despite trying to keep his love life on the down-low, he’s already been linked
to Skylar McKeith, daughter of You Are What You Eat’s Gillian, and Sophia
Wardman from X Factor band Belle Amie.
“I couldn’t believe it when I heard I was dating Skylar,” he says. “We only
met once backstage at The X Factor. It wasn’t true about Sophia either.”
Niall is single and doesn’t plan to settle down with a girl until he’s 30,
which must seem positively ancient to a young buck like him.
“I don’t have time for girlfriends. Although, do you know Brooke Vincent from
Coronation Street? I met her once, she’s lovely.”
But he reckons it’s Harry who gets the most attention from female fans.
“He has all the power in his curls,” he says. “The women love him. And he
loves getting naked. He’s always in his boxers.”
And right on cue, Harry walks in wearing nothing but his pants.
Sorry, girls, but Liam Payne is officially loved up. Although when it comes to
revealing her identity (oh come on, Liam, we all know it’s gorgeous X Factor
dancer Danielle Peazer, 22), he goes all Dictaphone shy.
“We want to keep it between ourselves for now,” he says. “Having a
relationship isn’t easy in this situation. But we’ve been together for eight
months now and I love her to bits.”
How does she handle knowing that girls up and down the country are throwing
themselves at him?
“There’s no time to go to clubs so I don’t have that temptation!” says Liam.
The Wolverhampton heart-throb turns 18 on Monday but he isn’t planning a
It’s not easy being together but I love my girl to bits
“I don’t drink and I’m not a big party sort, so we’ll probably go karting,” he
With his wise head on young shoulders, Liam attracts the attention of the more
mature One Directionettes. But when he reads the comments on Twitter, he’s
often a little taken aback.
“Some are a bit… Woah!,” he says. “And a woman from Mum’s work told her
she’d had dreams about me kissing her, which is a bit weird. What a random
Liam first entered X Factor as a starry-eyed 14 year old in 2008, only to fall
at the judges’ houses hurdle in favour of Eoghan Quigg (and where is he now?
“I carried on working at my singing right up until I entered again last year,
so it’s not just been a short jump to fame.”
He can barely contain his excitement about the debut single.
“The song is perfect. It wasn’t what we expected, it’s got a rocky edge. We’re
trying to be a bit of a different boy band – we don’t want to be clones.
“I’d love us to be as big as New Kids On The Block were back in the day.”
- What Makes You Beautiful is released on September 11.
- The band are ambassadors for Nintendo’s Pokémon Black and White and Pokédex