It’s every pop fan’s dream - an invitation to tea round at a Spice Girl’s house.
But it came true for Michael Rice as the 20-year-old from Hartlepool reunited with the co-presenter of All Together Now at her London home.
The singer, best known as Ginger Spice and by her maiden name of Halliwell, asked Michael to call in for a catch up after he won the inaugural BBC One series back in March.
He was able to tell her about his work on his first EP, preparations for a host of live dates and how he is working on a series of secret projects with a team of music business professionals as he reaps the benefits of winning the Saturday night show and its £50,000 prize money.
Michael, a former Dyke House School pupil, gave up his job at McDonald’s in Burn Road a year ago to concentrate on his singing career.
He said: “After the show had finished, Geri asked if I would like to meet up, because you didn’t really get to see her or the other presenter Rob Beckett when they were doing the show, it’s just at the end, they wished you well and then they are rushed off.
“The show rang me and asked if I would like to go down, because the people from the show keep in contact to see what you’re up to.
“We had scones and teas and just sat on her sofa, it was so nice.
“She was so kind and told me about some of her experiences and asked me what I was doing now. “She really has been hands on and talked to me about the next stage.
“It was absolutely unreal, I never thought I would ever be sat in a Spice Girls’ house, there on the sofa, it was so surreal.
“I told her I remember her band from the 1990s and I told her my granddad, Alan Rice, had a crush on her.
“She’s been a really good friend and so supportive.”
Michael, who also attended St Aidan’s Primary, released Bruised in April as part of the Power of Musik and as part of an anti-bullying campaign.
Newcastle Pride, Liverpool Pride and performances in Gran Canaria in November are among his forthcoming appearances.
“I mainly do ballads, but I’m working on stuff more around the vibe of The Weeknd, Frank Ocean, Sam Smith and Adele, and I’m working with some really good people” he added.
Michael keeps followers up to date through his page via www.facebook.com/MichaelRiceOfficial/.