Take That to stage comeback tour

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The Independent Culture

Take That is reforming for a nationwide tour, it was announced today.

Britain's biggest boy band is getting back together - but without Robbie Williams.

Gary Barlow, Howard Donald, Jason Orange and Mark Owen will reunite for an 11-date arena tour kicking off in April next year.

It comes a decade after the band split.

Interest in the band has revived, thanks to the recent tell-all ITV documentary which pulled in nearly six million viewers.

The group's greatest hits album was released earlier this month and went straight into the chart at number two, selling 90,000 copies in its first week.

And the band members have been offered a reported £1.5 million each to go back on the road.

They are promising to recapture the excitement of their original live shows.

All are now in their 30s, with the eldest, Howard, approaching his 38th birthday.

Fans will be treated to all the old hits including Back For Good, Pray and A Million Love Songs.

Lulu is rumoured to be joining them on stage for their hit Relight My Fire.

A spokesman for the band said: "Take That are excited to be able to get back on stage and thank the fans who have remained loyal since their split in 1996.

"Many will remember the explosive and creative live shows that Take That put on during their career, with outlandish costumes, pyrotechnics and perfectly choreographed dance routines.

"The 2006 tour promises to be no different, and will serve as a fitting tribute to their overwhelming success, and stature as Britain's ultimate boy band."

It will not be the first time Take That have performed without Robbie - they carried on without him for six months after he left the band.

The last time they stood on a British stage was at London's Earls Court on August 31, 1995, a month after he walked out.

When Take That finally called it a day in February 1996, fans were so distraught that the Samaritans set up a special helpline.

The band announced the comeback today at a press conference at the Berkeley Hotel in London.

Gary said: "Thank you very much for giving us the last 10 years off, but unfortunately the rumours are true - Take That are going back on tour."

Explaining why they are going back on the road a decade after their split, Mark said: "We're not getting any younger, that's the truth.

"I think if we don't do it now, we probably never could. It's kind of now or never for all of us.

"It will be a bit of fun, people can come along and we'll try our best to entertain and hopefully bring back some memories."

The band admitted they would love Robbie to join them.

Gary said: "I think we can all say we would definitely have loved that. But we do respect that's not going to happen.

"Rob's got his own deal going on and we obviously wish him the best with that."

Mark added: "The door's always open for Rob. If ever he's bored one day and we're on the road and he wants to come and sing a song, we're always ready to do that.

"We'll have a spare mic[rophone] ready for him on stage."

Jason revealed he had spoken to Robbie in recent weeks and Robbie had given his blessing to the reunion.

"He's absolutely given us his blessing. He's in a place where he's comfortable with himself and his own career.

"But I should imagine he might have mixed feelings - he's delighted for us but he might be a bit wistful as well.

"But he's cool, this won't offend him. He won't be upset by this."

Tickets for the 2006 tour go on sale from 9am on Friday, 2 December.

Tour dates:

* April 24 - Newcastle Metro Radio Arena

* April 27 & 28 - Birmingham NEC

* April 30 - Glasgow SECC

* May 2 - Sheffield Hallam FM Arena

* May 5 & 6 - Manchester MEN Arena

* May 8 & 9 - London Wembley Arena

* May 12 - Dublin The Point

* May 14 - Belfast Odyssey