The ‘Greatest Day’ group have enlisted a caterer to look after them while they are on their ‘Progress Live’ tour, but rather than cooking up tasty treats to order, he has been employed to help the quintet count their calories.

Singer Jason Orange said: “We've got our own chef for the first time. They will be catering just for us on tour."

His bandmate Robbie Williams jokingly added: "Yeah, it's Howard. He can do a good turn in the kitchen."

Gary Barlow - who is also joined in the band by Howard Donald and Mark Owen – has admitted to previously battling weight problems and depression after the band split in 1996.

He said: “For a couple of years in the late 90s I suffered with depression and I ballooned to 233lbs by the year 2000. I was practically immobile and found it hard to move around. I remember waking up one morning and trying to sit up in bed and it was so hard. Getting out of bed was such an effort.”

The group reunited in 2005 without Robbie, who subsequently rejoined in July 2010.

They have promised their upcoming tour will have more advanced pyrotechnics and special effects than they have ever performed with before, even topping the band’s acclaimed 2009 ‘Circus Live’ shows where they brought an ‘elephant’ on stage.

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