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‘She didn’t murder anybody’: Linda Martin weighs in on Nadine Coyle’s infamous Passportgate 20 years on


By Sarah Finnan
18th May 2021

Nadine Coyle / Instagram

‘She didn’t murder anybody’: Linda Martin weighs in on Nadine Coyle’s infamous Passportgate 20 years on

Linda Martin has weighed in on the infamous Nadine Coyle 'passportgate' incident and it sounds like history would have been very different had she been in charge.

An iconic piece of Irish television, the moment Nadine Coyle “forgot” her date of birth has been etched into our minds where it will live rent-free (as the cool kids say) for all eternity. What can only be described as a cultural reset, it’s where our lifelong obsession with the singer stems from – her appearance in the I’m A Celeb jungle and her pronunciation of the word “flour” only adding fuel to the fire. 

Continuously referenced in conversation, the moment has been the inspiration behind many a subsequent Halloween costume, piece of merch, and even acting monologue (the spiel helped Nicola Coughlan land her gig as “the wee lesbian” on Derry Girls). 

A contestant on the Irish talent show Popstars back in 2001, Nadine was just 16-years-old at the time… two years too young for the show’s strict age requirements. Knowing that she’d have to lie in order to have any chance of securing a spot, the aspiring artist momentarily forgot herself when doing a quick on-camera interview and mixed her facts up, giving her actual date of birth instead of the fake one that would make her 18-years-of-age. 

Introducing herself in a short clip, the Derry native can be heard saying “I’m Nadine Coyle, I’m from Lark Hill in Derry. Date of birth 15th of the sixth ‘85, making me a Gemini.” Cue a panic-stricken Nadine realising her mistake and asking, “what date of birth did I say now?”. Next thing you know, she’s on the phone to her mother in search of her “lost” passport, and well, we all know the heartbreak that ensued. You can rewatch how the whole thing played out below. 

Now 20 years on from when the moment first aired on television, Linda Martin – a former judge on the programme – has had her say on the matter. Speaking on 98FM’s The Big Breakfast with Rebecca and Brendan earlier this week, Linda revealed that she would have been much more forgiving and probably would have let the incident slide had it been up to her. 

“I love Nadine, I think she’s an amazing vocalist and she’s a gorgeous girl. Looking back on it – I’d say both of you would agree with me – if you get a chance, you take it. Alright, you’re telling little white lies, I mean she didn’t murder anybody.

“If it had been up to me, I’d have just let it go because I just thought that she was such a talent that it was worth letting her go, but unfortunately, producers had to do something about it.”

Unfortunately, the decision wasn’t up to her though and alas, poor Nadine’s Popstar hopes were dashed. Safe to say she landed on her feet though, and thanks to Louis Walsh, she found herself part of Girls Aloud, one of the UK’s biggest girl bands at the time. 

“But when you look at it, look how well she did. It was actually a great bit of luck for her because she went on into Girls Aloud and look at the situation she ended up in.”

“I really didn’t want to lose her but it wasn’t my decision, to be honest with you,” the former Eurovision star told listeners – later adding, “I just thought it was a terrible loss but brilliant for her, in the end.” 

So, there you have it… proof that things ultimately work out exactly as they’re meant to in the end.