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Kent Life interviews Denise Van Outen

PUBLISHED: 08:26 15 November 2010 | UPDATED: 17:25 24 May 2017

Kent Life interviews Denise Van Outen

Kent Life interviews Denise Van Outen

Back on stage in Legally Blonde The Musical, Denise Van Outen talks about motherhood, her new clothing range, life in rural Kent and climbing mountains

 

Kent Life interviews Denise Van Outen

 

Back on stage in Legally Blonde The Musical, Denise Van Outen talks about motherhood, her new clothing range, life in rural Kent and climbing mountains

 

There is no denying that Denise Van Outen is one of the most glamorous mums to ever push a buggy!  In the last few years there have been lots of changes in her life and today she looks better, and happier, than ever before.  She is incredibly busy; it’s no wonder she relishes her time at home in Kent.

Denise first shot to fame when she presented Channel 4's Big Breakfast with Johnny Vaughn in the 1990’s. The duo was a sensation and since then she has had a hugely successful and varied career on television, radio and in the theatre.

She met her husband, actor and singer Lee Mead, in 2007, when she was a judge on the BBC series Any Dream Will Do and Lee was one of the contestants. He went on to win the show, beating off more than 10,000 others and took the title role of Joseph in the musical revival of Joseph, And His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber. The couple married some time after in a private ceremony in the Seychelles.

Since then, they have bought a home in rural Kent.  Having a place away from the hustle and bustle of London has been ideal, especially since the arrival of their baby girl, Betsy, six months ago.

Is motherhood as she expected? “It’s a lot harder!” she says with a huge smile.  “I now have a lot of respect for all mums because I know what it's like. It takes so long to get out of the house in the morning. But we love her so much we don’t seem to mind what she does! When I was expecting, I craved Cheddar cheese and grapes. Strange things happen when you are pregnant!

“I was so looking forward to being a mum, and so was Lee excited about being a dad. We have hectic lives, but it's worked out really well. I had been broody for years so I was just thrilled when she arrived.”

Lee and Denise have protected Betsy from the press as much as they can.  They had one official family photo taken and donated all the royalties to The Louis Dundas Centre for Children's Palliative Care at Great Ormond Street Hospital. They wanted Betsy to know that the funds went to help children who needed special care.  

Since Betsy's arrival in May, Denise has been keeping busy with her own work commitments and charity work. “I don't want to give up working because I love that too.  When you’ve been working for as long as I have, you can’t just stop.”

Denise and Lee enjoy splitting life between their farmhouse in Kent and their London flat. They enjoy the garden and the countryside location of their home. Exploring new villages and finding pretty country pubs is a nice way to spend a Sunday. 

“We even have a vegetable patch,” she laugh. “I am not sure how good were are going to be at growing things, but we'll give it a try and its great for Betsy to one day learn about growing things and to see where our food comes from. It’s important to teach children about the environment and how to respect it.”

Denise has been able to manage her work commitments round being a mum and has indeed taken the chance to use her experience by writing a book on pregnancy and designing a range of maternity clothing.

Bumpalicious is a handbook for mums-to-be. Each chapter includes a checklist of monthly things to expect, a diary-style entry from Denise, advice from two leading experts: fitness expert Nicki Waterman and nutritional expert Amanda Ursell. It will be out early 2011.

She also has a range of maternity clothes that she has designed in conjunction with very.co.uk.  Called simply DVO, the brand features beautiful, flattering clothing for women expecting a baby and the range is proving very popular.

“I am going to be a good mum, the best I can be and I will be going to work too. Like so many other mothers we have a mortgage to pay as well!”

Having spent the last few years mentoring new performers with shows such as I’d Do Anything and Any Dream Will Do, Denise is heading back into the theatre spotlight in the fantastic show Legally Blonde The Musical in which she stars alongside Sheridan Smith. 

She is to play Paulette, an outspoken, brassy hairdresser and the role has some great comic moments and some huge musical numbers. She can't wait!

“The idea of being back on stage is fabulous,” she says, “It’s going to be hard work, all the rehearsals and the late nights, but I am really looking forward to it! Let me at ‘em!”

She is also looking forward to working in London, just down the road from Lee who is currently starring in the musical Wicked at the Victoria Apollo theatre.

“It will be great to get back into the swing of it,” she says.  “I will be able to see Lee and Betsy during the day and while she sleeps, I will go out to work.”

Denise’s career has been varied and demanding. While she was still at school, she played the child role of Eponine in the musical Les Misérables. Since then she has led the cast of many West End shows to critical acclaim: Tell Me On A Sunday, Rent, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She also starred as Roxie Hart in the sensational Chicago both in London and on Broadway.

“Performing on Broadway was just amazing.” she recalls. She was a hit with the critics:  The New York Post called her “a knockout”.

“I was on top of the world.”  She recalls.  “It was like being in an old MGM movie! New York is so glamorous.”

She says she loved going out after the show to places like the famous Sardi's or The Waldorf for a cocktail.  “Sitting on a high stool, in a gorgeous bar, with a Cosmopolitan in your hand is as good as it gets!  I loved it!”

Denise was born in Basildon, Essex. At the age of seven, she began modeling for knitting patterns and then studied at the Sylvia Young Stage School in London from age 12. She admits she has always been ambitious. “I think I was probably ambitious from a really early age,” she says. “But I believe in working hard too!”

On television her acting credits include Hotel Babylon, Where The Heart Is and Murder In Mind. “I am looking froward to doing theatre again. There is something very special about 1,000 people sitting in their chairs and laughing at something you did.  I can’t wait to work in front of a live audience. It is very different to TV work”

 

I had been broody for years, so I was just thrilled when Betsy arrived

 

Denise is recently back from a trek through the Andes in Peru in aid of Breast Cancer Care. “Eight hours a day trekking the Andes mountain range in South America, low levels of oxygen and camping 4,000 metres above sea level. It was an awesome experience.  We ended at the legendary Machu Picchu.”

The team raised an incredible £125,000 and Denise advises: “If anyone is considering a trek, then don't think a moment longer. Just do it!  It was an incredible experience.  I will never forget the emotion of reaching Machu Picchu surrounded by my new-found trekking buddies, many of whom had been diagnosed with breast cancer.” 

Being healthy, and keeping fit throughout her pregnancy, helped Denise cope with the rigours of the trek. “Being pregnant is not an illness. It's good to keep fit and active and get out and about. I just did power walking and some stretching. It was good for me and the baby. There is nothing harmful in gentle exercise and I enjoyed it.”

She also climbed Kilimanjaro in March 2009 for Comic Relief and has kept up a rigorous walking regime since. “I really enjoy going for long walks in the countryside – I always have.  It's good for getting fresh air and toning the leg muscles. Now, of course, I do it with a pram!”

WHERE TO SEE DENISE

Legally Blonde The Musical is at the Savoy Theatre, London.  Telephone: 0844 847 2345

www.legallyblondethemusical.com

To donate to Breast Cancer Care visit: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=celebtrek

Breast Cancer Care website: http://www.breastcancercare.org.uk/. 

DVO maternity clothing is available at http://www.very.co.uk/

Bumpalicious by Denise Van Outen will be published by Headline in March 2011.

 

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