Denise Welch on her writing career and life in Wilmslow

Denise Welch at the Ice Fantasy Ball

Denise Welch at the Ice Fantasy Ball - Credit: Archant

Wilmslow actor Denise Welch cleaned up her act and is busier than ever. Is there no stopping her?

Author Denise Welch (c) Claire Grogan Photography

Author Denise Welch (c) Claire Grogan Photography - Credit: Archant

If anyone could boast a new chapter in their life, it’s Wilmslow actor Denise Welch.

After kicking the booze with her artist husband Lincoln Townley and escaping from the dubious pleasures of life in the capital, the former Coronation Street star and Loose Women regular is now busier than ever.

Not only is she in the midst of a mammoth tour in the Gary Barlow musical Calendar Girls, her latest book A Mother’s Bond hit the shelves recently, winning her praise from readers and fellow authors alike.

Denise, who recently celebrated her 60th birthday, has already penned two autobiographies and a novel but reveals that it was never her intention to become an author.

‘I had no desire in me to write. I was never one of those people who say “Ooh I’ve got a book in me I can’t wait to see my book on a shelf”. I was very much a hired hand actress,’ she says.

‘Then, when I was doing Loose Women a lot and my life was in freefall for quite some time - self-medicating, depression and everything - my then manager came to me and said “They want you to write your autobiography and there’s a handsome advance on the table”. I said “I have no idea how to do that. I don’t want to do it” but he convinced me that as everything I did was very public anyway wasn’t it time I put the narrative of my life into my own words? I was put in touch with a woman called Rebecca Cripps, a ghostwriter, and I worked with her on my first autobiography.’

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Denise freely admits that her memory of events was terrible and if it wasn’t for Rebecca she could never have pieced everything together.

‘It was almost like a therapy session. She followed me around the country for a year doing in-depth interviews with me,’ she reveals.

‘To be honest, I’ve no idea how I could have written it. It was doing the interviews that helped me with my memory. It was a best-selling book and although I credit myself for being brave enough to put my sex, drugs and rock and roll lifestyle there, I don’t take credit for actually writing it.’

The second book was a follow up, called Starting Over but as she was still beset by personal problems, Denise says the title didn’t ring true for her.

‘I didn’t feel like I was starting over,’ she admits. ‘So I kind of dismissed that book. And nobody came knocking on my door saying “Hey we want a novel. We are interested in your made-up characters”. Nothing like that at all. I was at a friend’s house in London and I had a flash of inspiration about this book where people would think one thing was going to happen but it was a different thing altogether. So I wrote this chapter and showed it to Rebecca, who made a few little tweaks. I went with her literary agent and we pushed it out. We had 12 rejections and two acceptances. I was over the moon. We decided we’d go to Little Brown (the publisher) until I realised I’d only written one chapter. I’d got to write the rest of the book!’ And this I did with the guidance of Rebecca.’

She likens the process to childbirth and it all starts in bed!

‘I write in longhand. I write in bed as if I’m Barbara Cartland, accepting cups of tea from whoever is around the house. When it’s finished and changes have been made and it’s about to go it’s a bit like childbirth. It wasn’t so bad after all. Maybe I could do another one!’

There will be another book. The next book is going to be a non- fiction.

‘I didn’t feel like I had started over, but now I do. Now I have started over and the questions people ask me every day are “How did you stop drinking? How did you stop smoking? How do you keep your weight down? How did you turn your life around?” And I guess that’s the story I want to tell. It’s not about saying how you do it. It’s about how I did it and if you can take any strength from that then so be it.’

One of the reasons she has been able to ditch the rock and roll lifestyle has been making her home in Wilmslow which she now shares with her 45-year-old husband Lincoln, who she married in 2013.

She moved to Cheshire around 20 years ago with her then husband Tim Healy and elder son Matthew Healy, the singer with the world famous The 1975 band.

Denise and Tim had moved back to Newcastle, which is where they were both brought up, when Denise was pregnant with Matthew.

‘When Matt was about nine I got Coronation Street which was initially just a few episodes. Then it went to three months then six months and then it was for a year. But I was really homesick and I said to Tim either I don’t do it, or we move down here temporarily for a year. But then a year became two, then became three became four and I was pregnant with Louis, which was unexpected, and Matthew was in school here and so it became our home.

‘To this day I live in one part of Wilmslow and Tim moved back with his now wife - she’s a Wilmslow girl and they live here as well so we are all Cheshire based Geordies!’

In fact they’ll all share Christmas together at home in Wilmslow.

‘I love Wilmslow, ‘ says Denise.

‘I have got a lot of great people up here and I feel very safe here. Where I live, I’m a mile from Wilmslow and a mile from Alderley Edge, so Lincoln and I have all those lovely places to go to for dinner, for coffees and lunches and things.

‘In summer in Alderley Edge you almost feel like you’re on holiday and everywhere is completely accessible here.

‘This is very much a place that I have embraced and the people here have embraced me. I do consider Wilmslow very much as my home.’