THE inevitable has happened.

The day we have all been dreading is finally here and misery will forever more be rained down upon us.

No, not the apocalypse. Nor the extinction of red wine or chocolate.

It’s far worse (if you’re a 13-year-old girl).

One Direction are splitting up and the collective heart of every teenage girl in the land is broken (but the ears of the rest of the population remain in tact).

But we shouldn’t get too smug because each one of them is promising (read threatening) a solo career. That’s potentially five times the amount of mind-numbing pop drivel we’re currently subjected to.

Of course, if they decide to do us all a solid and give up music in favour of modelling in their undercrackers or ‘starring’ in a celebrity reality tv show, no one could blame them.

After all, with an estimated £25million each in their Junior ISA accounts they could whittle their days away putting their pennies in their piggy banks and go back to playing tig with their pals.

Astonishingly, barring Taylor Swift, the boys from 1D sold more records last year than anyone else on earth, and due to being flogged like horses on stages across the globe on their perpetual tour, they are the world’s highest-earning touring artists.

But who am I to judge? Just because I personally don’t like their particular brand of pop, doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the magnitude of their success.

In just five years they’ve sold more than 50 million albums. That’s a lot. Not as many as, say, The Beatles who - if we are to pigeon hole them as a boyband (well they were boys in a band after all) - sold more than 600 million albums.

I’ll let that sink in.

But outside of the original Fab Four, when it comes to the most successful bands of the last four decades, One Direction don’t even make the top 10 and barely get into the top 20.

According to Wikipedia the biggest selling boyband of the last 40 years is Backstreet Boys. A personal favourite of mine from my teenage years, who have sold a staggering 150 million albums worldwide.

But comparisons aside, and credit where it’s due there’s no denying One Direction captured the hearts and imaginations of millions of people across the globe (‘Directioners’, if you will).

Not a bad feat when you consider they started out as complete strangers at the beginning of 2010 and only placed third in the final of the X Factor, losing out to eventual winner Matt Cardle (yeah, who?).

Unbelievably the band are about to release their fifth - FIFTH - album since 2010 when they were cobbled together by Simon Cowell and his X-Factor cronies.

I couldn’t name five of their songs, let alone five albums. But then, I’m not down with the kids.

None of the five boys made it past the final stages of the TV talent show, yet collectively they remain its most successful export ever.

Despite protestations from their army of Directioners, their ‘extended hiatus’ is to happen in March.

As their fellow musician Professor Green put it: “So there wasn’t only one direction after all.”