Mel C’s brother’s thrilling career and how the Spice Girls star saved his life
Leaving a vocal role in arguably the biggest girl band in the world – Mel C is back on our screens with her latest appearance on Celebrity Gogglebox.
The Spice Girls superstar is currently starring on the hit Channel 4 show alongside her brother Paul O’Neill, whose life she saved in a life-changing challenge.
Also known as Sporty Spice, or Melanie Chisholm, she certainly has a glamorous life and flashy career in front of the camera.
Mel, 48, has become incredibly popular yet maintains a close relationship with her family – and especially her brother Paul.
Paul recently returned with his sister in the latest season of Gogglebox – where the duo sat on the famous sofa to review some of Britain’s most beloved TV shows.
It’s safe to say that Paul feels comfortable in the spotlight with his incredible racing driver career.
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He started racing in the MGF Cup from 1999-200, shortly after he arrived at the Jim Russell racecourse.
In 2001, he entered the production class of the British Touring Car Championship – before entering a 15-year career with the MGF Cups, BTCCs and British GTs.
He famously won BTCC at his home circuit in Oulton Park, in 2002..
The racing star, who also worked alongside Steve Rider and Tim Harvey on ITV, has appeared on Top Gear, ITV’s GT Academy and Channel 5 classic car rescue series.
Paul’s love for racing even meant he stole an expensive item from his sister Mel – her own car.
“I was 17 years old, worked in a factory in Warrington, and I borrowed my sister’s car,” he said.
“I’ve only been driving for a few weeks and I had a serious accident, hit a wet roundabout in a Mercedes SLK, and I fell off a light pole.
“It was on the front pages of the tabloids. I was inexperienced – I didn’t know anything about driving.”
Mel has revealed her close relationship with her siblings in the past, she has revealed a glimpse of their relationship with The Times.
In 2016, she described falling in love with her brother from a very young age – despite some rather questionable antics.
“I was up in my bedroom with my partner and he just burst in and did a big fart,” she said. “Looking back, I feel terrible ‘because I actually used to hit him.”
“I wanted to punch him with all my might, but he just laughed in my face. And farted more.”
Paul also discussed how his sister’s popularity affected his life as he detailed how growing up he hated the original Spice Girls songs.
He revealed that he was often mocked for being Sporty Spice’s brother, which caused him to drop out of school.
He said: “I hate Wannabe more and more. I was at university and everyone I knew started to look down on me.
“I’m not Paul, I’m Sporty Spice’s brother who wears sportswear and does flying kicks.
“I pretended to laugh it off, but it broke my heart,” he added. “I couldn’t take it anymore, so I left.”
If their relationship wasn’t close enough – their bond became strong when Mel saved her brother’s life almost 20 years ago.
She discovered that her brother had symptoms of type 1 diabetes during a vacation in Mauritius to celebrate her 30th birthday.
Just a short time after Paul was at his peak – just turning 25 at the time – ended his best season ever as a driver.
Mel describes the 2004 holiday to the Mirror as her brother’s condition began to worsen.
“He slept a lot and lost weight despite taking down giant bottles of Coke from the fridge,” she said.
“But it wasn’t until we got home and he started telling me about other symptoms that it all figured out.”
Paul’s symptoms – thirst, cravings and blurred vision – resemble those of a Spice Girls office worker who was recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
“He’s, like my brother, in his 20s, healthy,” Mel said. “And I had a horrible feeling that that was what Paul had.
“I said to him, ‘You know what? I think you need to see a doctor because it’s like diabetes’.
“You don’t even want to say the word ‘diabetes’ because you know it means a huge lifestyle change.
“You hope it’s not that – but you know you have to find out.”
Mel was right to worry. When Paul saw his doctor, his blood sugar was dangerously high – even life-threatening – and he was rushed straight to the hospital.
Paul said: “I’m so grateful to Mel for insisting on taking me to the doctor. I was almost in a coma.”
“I now know that delaying treatment for type 1 diabetes can cause diabetic ketoacidosis, or DKA, a potentially life-threatening complication.”
Further tests confirmed Paul had type 1 diabetes. “It was the worst day of my life,” Paul recalls after emergency treatment and tests confirmed the condition.
He describes his anguish over the impact the condition has had on his career.
The strict rules mean his racing license must be turned over to the Motor Sports Association and returned only when his blood sugar has remained stable for six months.
“I was told I was going to be the next big thing – winning top races and championships. Now, the game is over,” he said.
At that point, Mel put Paul on the path to racing success – paying for his license, buying his first race car (a £22,000 Rover MGF) and arranging sponsorships. .
Elevating her brother’s spirits, the singer revealed how “devastating” she was for him – as doctors explained that his body had stopped producing insulin.
As a result, glucose cannot get into the cells of the body to be used for fuel – which explains the fatigue – and accumulates in the blood.
With no cure, Paul had to learn to measure his blood sugar regularly and inject himself with insulin.
“The first time I tried to inject myself into my stomach, my hand couldn’t push the needle in,” he recalls.
“But after you’ve done it once, you’ll never look back.”
After six months of settling down, Paul and his family held a ceremony to hand over his motorbike license to him.
He had three more years in the game before becoming a coach and TV presenter – and years after his diagnosis, he’s still meticulous about managing his diabetes.
“I still enjoy cycling and also run three or four times a week,” he says. “Exercise is an important part of my diabetes management.
“I eat little and often and avoid things that I know will spike my blood sugar, but I can still get regular treatment.”
Mel is extremely proud that Paul has become an ambassador for the charity Diabetes UK.
“He’s a really inspirational figure, especially for young people – and he talks to families often,” she said.
“He wanted to get the message across that it doesn’t have to hold you back or prevent you from doing anything.
“And I’m so proud that he turned something negative into a positive.”
“There are so many worse things you can have. It can’t be beaten but it can be controlled,” added Paul. “You can still live your dream.”
Gogglebox returns to TV on Friday, June 17 at 9pm.
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https://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/mel-cs-brothers-thrilling-career-27243277 Mel C's brother's thrilling career and how the Spice Girls star saved his life