Catherine Scott talks to Denise Van Outen
Denise Van Outen has gone from self-proclaimed ladette to hands-on mum – and she loves it. The model, dancer, actress and broadcaster spends as much time as possible with four-year-old daughter Betsy.
“I love being a mum. I do get a bit fed up when people say ‘You can’t get much time with her’. I actually spend more time with my daughter than a lot of working mums because my hours are different to most people’s,” says Denise. “I do the school drop off and pick up every day, she has just started in reception. If I can’t make pick up then I have a great friend who has been Betsy’s babysitter since she was born and she collects her from school if I can’t make it.”
Denise split from Betsy’s dad, actor Lee Mead in 2013, although they share the care of their little girl.
“I have been really lucky. I have great support from both sets of grandparents and Betsy spends a lot of time with her dad. It works well.” The couple met when Lee was a contestant in Any Dream Will Do, the television show to find the next Joseph for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hit musical. Denise was a judge and Lee won. Although the couple split in 2013, they are said to be good friends and Denise talks about him fondly. She is now said to be dating a city banker, but she prefers not to talk about her relationships.
Denise is currently presenting a show on Magic FM radio station which this month started broadcasting in Leeds and across Yorkshire for the first time.
She admits that she has always been a bit of a show- off. “My sister was very shy and I was the vivacious one,” says the Essex girl, who was born plain Denise Outen, the Van was added later when she entered show business.
She was modelling knitting patterns at the tender age of seven and then attended the renowned Sylvia Young stage school from the age of 12. Her contemporaries included Billie Piper and Keeley Hawes. Even then Denise didn’t want to be pigeonholed.
“I never really had a plan,” she says. “I liked doing singing, dancing and acting. I really wanted to be able to go where the opportunities were. Although early on musical theatre was where my heart was.”
Before she was even a teenager she had a small part in A Midsummer Night’s Dream with the Royal Shakespeare Company then a chorus spot in Les Miserables in the West End. Her passion and talent for musical theatre returned later when she played Roxie Hart in Chicago to much acclaim. But it was as co-presenter of Channel 4’s Big Breakfast that she first came to the attention of the nation.
“I never set out to be in television,” she says. “Someone scouted me and offered me a job on a Saturday morning kids programme and then I was offered the Big Breakfast.”
She left in 1998 sto pursue her acting ambition and successfully made the transition from breakfast telly into mainstream light entertainment and then musical theatre. It is this versatility which has ensured that Denise has remained in work continuously, where other celebrities may have struggled. She has been inundated with requests to do reality televison, but has only succumbed to Strictly Come Dancing in which she came second in 2012 with partner James Jordan and admits although it was hard work, she loved it.
“You got to dip into the best dressing-up box ever. I loved all that.” Denise Van Outen is on Magic Radio at 1pm on Saturdays. Other celebrity presenters include Christine Bleakley, John Barrowman, Claire Sweeney, Kim Wilde and Rick Astley
Magic expanded to Leeds on DAB on January 5. In order to receive the station’s digital frequency, make sure you re-scan your DAB radio to get the most up to date stations.
For more information on how to do this, head to www.getdigitalradio.com/retune