Loose Women’s Coleen Nolan: 'Facing fear has made me feel alive'

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The singer and daytime TV regular tells Lisa Salmon why she's 'terrified' about her new solo tour - but life is too short to put things off.

Blackpool born Coleen Nolan isn't used to doing things on her own. She rose to fame as a child singing with her sisters in The Nolans, and has remained in the public eye as a regular panellist on daytime TV's Loose Women, surrounded by a gaggle of chatty ladies.

But at 58, the youngest Nolan has decided it's time the spotlight shone on her alone, so she's embarking on a solo tour. And what's more, it's called 'Naked' - although that doesn't mean the chirpy singer and presenter will actually be stripping off.

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Her tour will kick off tomorrow (Friday) at the Blackpool Grand Theatre and will stretch to Swansea on Thursday, March 28.

She said: "I call the tour Naked because I do feel naked. I feel very exposed, very vulnerable," explains Nolan, who will be singing and answering questions from the audience during the shows. "I've never, ever performed on my own, I've always been surrounded by my sisters or the Loose Women, so it feels very, very scary."

"I'm absolutely terrified," she admits. "I'm losing sleep over it - I'm dying of nerves. It is exciting, but it's also terrifying."

So, why did she decide to do it?

As well as being connected to the fact she's spent virtually her whole life sharing the limelight (she started singing with The Nolans when she was just two), it's also linked to the sisters' experiences with cancer. Bernie died from breast cancer in 2013 at age 52, while Linda and Anne both have the same disease, with Linda's cancer now in her brain too.

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And last year, Coleen herself found she had skin cancer - basal cell carcinoma on her shoulder, which has been successfully treated, and pre-melanoma on her face, which she says dates back to her childhood and will be treated after her tour finishes.

Ruth Langsford will be supporting Coleen Nolan on the opening night of her new tour Naked tomorrow (Friday) in Blackpool.Ruth Langsford will be supporting Coleen Nolan on the opening night of her new tour Naked tomorrow (Friday) in Blackpool.
Ruth Langsford will be supporting Coleen Nolan on the opening night of her new tour Naked tomorrow (Friday) in Blackpool. | UGC

The last time she toured was with her sisters on their reunion tour in 2009. "Then very sadly, Bernie got ill, and then we lost her. And I thought that's it, I probably won't perform on stage again," Nolan adds. "And then when my sister Linda got re-diagnosed, the cancer had spread to her brain."

The sisters were tested for the BRCA1 gene, which makes breast and ovarian cancer more likely, but were found not to have it - although Nolan says Linda's having further testing.

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"We're just waiting to hear what genes there are and if there's any connection - there must be, three sisters can't be that unlucky! It's a really difficult one," she adds, "because if I do carry the gene, am I going to have elective surgery and get a double mastectomy? Or do I just keep on top of it?"

She sees a breast specialist every year, has regular mammograms, and checks herself frequently as well. "So I'm quite aware of it, because of my family history. If they do link it [with genes], I've got a big decision to make. And I don't know if I'm brave enough right now.

"It just makes you re-evaluate life, and I was thinking - what am I going to regret later on in life that I didn't try? Or if something happens to me, what will I wish I'd done? And performing was the thing - I thought I'd like to do it again, just once, and casually mentioned it, and the next thing a tour was involved," she explains.

"I've been putting it off and putting it off, and my sister Linda was very much: 'Do not put it off', because who knows if I'll be here next year. So I thought no, I'll do it now. It is terrifying, but in some ways it's been great, because the fear has made me feel alive."

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The nationwide tour starts this month in Blackpool, Nolan's home town, and she'll be supported by her eldest son, Shane - a singer whose dad is comedian and actor Shane Richie, Nolan's first husband.

Touring with her own show isn't the only dream she's about to realise. After the tour's over, she's moving to a smaller property in Stoke, which is about half-an-hour from her current home in Cheshire - with land she can keep her beloved horse, Paddy, and her goats on. Her four dogs and boyfriend, Michael Jones, will be coming too, of course.

"Oh my God, my favourite time is being down at yard with the horse and I'm moving house soon," Nolan says happily. "We just got more land, so I'll be able to have him at home - I'm downsizing the house to get the land, because the animals are most important.

"It's been my dream since childhood - ever since I was a child, I just wanted the house full of horses - and now finally..."

Fortunately, Jones likes animals.

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"He's looking forward to learning how to muck out and all of those things," says Nolan, with tongue firmly in cheek. "I couldn't have been with someone that didn't like animals. He knows I like animals more than I like anyone."

That said, she does rather like her daughter Ciara, 22, who's currently travelling with her boyfriend in south-east Asia and is much missed - Nolan says it's "horrendous" being without her.

"Thank god the tour is happening, because literally 24/7 at the moment is all about the tour, rehearsals, costumes, learning songs and everything. So this month while she's been gone, it's been fine because I've been so busy. But when this is all finished ,I'll be lost without her - I really miss her," says Nolan. "She's like my wingman, and she sorts me out, whether it's food or anything else in the house. She's brilliant."

Since the day she left, Ciara has chatted with her mum over FaceTime every day, and sends pictures of where they are. "I'm so delighted they're doing that," says Nolan, "because it makes it so much easier when I see what an amazing time they're having, and that they're really living their best life."

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A few years ago, Ciara helped her adopt a plant-based diet - so not only is Nolan missing her daughter, but the tasty vegan meals she used to dish-up.

"I went plant-based during lockdown, and I started to eat much healthier - my daughter was doing all these amazing plant-based meals and making sure everything was in there that should be. There was no processed stuff, it was all fresh," Nolan recalls.

"And now the little cow's gone travelling," she adds with a chuckle, "and I'm somehow having to make all the recipes that she wrote down. But I'm much better - I used to be terrible, but I'm much more aware now."

She recently discovered she's got pre-diabetes (type 2), and exclaims ruefully: "Yeah, it's great being in your 50s! Obviously, I've got to watch sugar intake and stuff like that, but it's not a bad thing really, it's given me something to focus on.

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"I think I've got to an age now where my body's going: 'Ok, you've had a great time and now you need to take care of me a bit more'. That's what I'm trying to do, and I actually feel a lot better than I have in ages."

To find out tour dates click HERE.

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