Russell Watson was working as a bolt-cutter on £90 a week when he met first wife Helen Watson Roberts in a pub in Irlam, Salford.

Helen, then just 18, had no idea I'm A Celebrity star Russell, then 21, could sing until he picked up a guitar one day in the bedroom.

Despite having had no vocal training, it was clear that Russell had a talent, and Helen said she encouraged him to start singing in working men's clubs and pubs.

According to Helen, it was her idea for Russell to focus on more theatrical songs such a tracks from Phantom Of The Opera and Nessun Dorma - which would eventually make him a star.

Russell Watson's first marriage collapsed in 2001
Russell Watson's first marriage collapsed in 2001

In 1990, his career began to take off when he won Manchester Piccadilly Radio's Search for a Star contest, and he and Helen tied the knot in 1993.

But his big break came in 1999 when he was chosen to sing the national anthem at the Rugby League Challenge Cup Final at Wembley and at the last match of the Premiership between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford.

It was the latter performance that got him noticed, and in 2001 he released his first album, titled The Voice.

Helen with their daughters Rebecca and Hannah
Helen with their daughters Rebecca and Hannah

Their second daughter Hannah also arrived, but four months later, Russell's marriage to part-time dinner lady Helen was over.

According to Helen, Russell ended their marriage during a phone call while on tour in North America in March 2001 - claims Russell has always denied.

"He ended our marriage with the words 'It’s over, I’m not coming back'. Then he sent someone round with a van for his stuff," she told the Daily Mail in 2014.

She believed the cracks had been starting to show for some time and alleged that she had been dismissed by some of those around him on account of her down-to-earth clothing.

Helen Watson Roberts met Russell when she was just 18
Helen Watson Roberts met Russell when she was just 18

Helen said: "He had a lot of people around him that weren’t good for him. I’d be told by his people things like 'Oh you can’t come with us, [you’re] wearing an Asda dress.' I felt like the dumbo at home while Russell gallivanted off in his limos and designer clothes.

"I think it all changed when Russell signed his first record deal. He was suddenly surrounded by managers (since departed) who told him he was a big star. Russell fell for it, hook, line and sinker... everything changed for the worse in our marriage."

Russell, however, paints a very different picture. For one, he branded her phone call claims “so far from the truth it’s laughable," and insisted fame had nothing to do with their split.

In his autobiography, Finding My Voice, he wrote: "This belief that fame stepped in, swelled my head and made me leave Helen in the lurch isn’t true.

Russell Watson pictured with daughter Hannah, left, wife Louise Harris, centre, and daughter Rebecca, right
Russell Watson pictured with daughter Hannah, left, wife Louise Harris, centre, and daughter Rebecca, right

"We were a warring couple, arguing about the same things that every other couple does: the kids, money, family, my job. We fought before the split, we fought during the divorce and, just for good measure, we fought afterwards too."

Helen went on to marry engineer Tony Roberts in 2009 after meeting in a local pub while Russell tied the knot with Louise Harris in 2015.

And despite the initial acrimony with Helen, in his 2008 book he confirmed they've since moved past it.

"The relationship is on an even keel these days," he wrote. "We get on well these days."

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*I’m A Celebrity continues tonight at 9pm on ITV