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Now that Take That have returned to pop prominence at precisely the moment their old mate Robbie Williams was taking a dive in the charts, a bit of collective chuckling up sleeves might have been expected. Not a bit of it, writes Ros Dodd

“Have a little patience,” their hit song exhorts, but in reality the reformed and re-successful Take That have more than a little patience - they have a lot of humanity too.

The group have spoken in press interviews about their concern for erstwhile band member Robbie Williams, who's in rehab for prescription drug dependency.

Mark Owen is “devastated” by Robbie's plight, while front man Gary Barlow magnanimously declared recently that the reborn Take That's success was due to Robbie's own success: had he not become such a star, said Gary, there wouldn't have been lingering interest in Take That.

It's generous of him to say so, because apart from Angels, Gary always wrote the best songs. Not only that, Take That were so phenomenally popular that it's hard to believe they couldn't have surged back into the pop charts even without the Robbie factor.

The Police, for example, have just announced they're reforming and embarking on a world tour, despite there being no obvious rancour between the musicians and although they've not had a hit for 20 years.

I've always had a soft spot for Take That because - their catchy music apart - they always seemed such a nice bunch of guys (well, apart from the mixed-up Robbie, that is).

Fast forward ten years since Robbie left to embark on international stardom and what do you have?

Not four washed-up blokes eaten up with jealousy and inferiority complexes, but instead a quartet who have grown up, literally and metaphorically, who have families and a simple enjoyment and appreciation of real life and whose love for and understanding of music hasn't left them.

Now, after years in the wilderness, they are justly reaping what they sowed years ago and have made a triumphant return to the pop charts.

They could be forgiven for swaggering on to the world stage, but instead they are anxious about their old band mate. Cynics might say their concern for Robbie is a publicity stunt, but anyone who's followed the ups and downs of their collective musical career knows that's not the case.

It is heartening in this celebrity “me me me” age to find four down-to-earth guys who can focus on something other than their own fame and fortune - and even more so when their focus is the man whose star threatened to eclipse theirs forever. But never quite did.

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