Denise Welch has admitted that her ‘biggest regret’ is that her mum never got to see her embracing life after quitting drinking.
In a candid Loose Women interview the actress, 61, revealed that she gave up alcohol three weeks before her mum’s death in 2012.
Denise also reflected on her colourful TV career during the TV appearance, including her stint on Coronation Street, and the story behind meeting her first husband Tim Healy.
Candid: Denise Welch has admitted that her ‘biggest regret’ is that her mum never got to see her embracing life after quitting drinking
Speaking about her mum, Denise told the panel it’s always been a regret that she left it so late to give up drinking, as her mum never got to see the true extent of her sobriety.
She said: ‘My mum was my rock, she died seven years ago.
‘She was a great loss, she used to come down to the show, the first thing I would do after the show would go and see what she thought.
‘She always knew when I was unwell with my depression, I miss her very much.
‘One of my big regrets in life is that she knew I’d stopped drinking three weeks before she died but I’d love for her to see the life I have now.’
Open: The actress told the Loose Women panel she gave up drinking just three weeks before her mother’s death in 2012
Denise famously quit drinking in 2012 after she and now-husband Lincoln Townley – who she married in 2013 – issued each other a furious ultimatum.
Reflecting on her life as a whole, the star added: ‘I am great I’m better than I have been, I’m still great friend with my kids’ dad, my kids are doing well, I married to a wonderful.
‘Our sober life enables us to do so much. I’m still working at 61 which is great i can pick and choose a bit more. I still have my illness, I still have severe episodes of depression but I know how to work through and live with them more.’
During the candid interview, Denise spoke to Andrea McLean, Kaye Adams and Nadia Sawalha about her career, which started out as the heir to the Welch’s mini-empire.
Open: Denise spoke about her relationship with her mum as part of the show’s Life Before Loose series
Chatting about her childhood growing up in the North East, she explained: ‘It was always a party house, mum and dad were very young and all the parties happened at our flat which was tiny. I have got photos of me sitting in curlers, a bit of Norma Desmond in me.
‘It wasn’t until I was about 14/15 at school when I was a very unremarkable child. My mum and Dad thought they were doing a good thing sending me to a convent school because they got a half price deal.
‘Because I had been baptised Catholic, my mum pointed my sister and I in the direction of the church. But we went into the wrong church and became Christian Scientists for two years!’
Sweet: The star also told the sweet tale behind how she met her second husband Tim Healy. The pair split in 2012 but they remain good friends
Denise also spoke about the time she met her second husband Tim, who she remains close friends with even after their 2012 split.
The Waterloo Road star said they both met at an audition to work for a live theatre company, and had to get very close very quickly during an improvisation session.
She explained: ‘We had to do this improvisation which was set in a launderette, and then he turned it around at the end that he was gay.
‘I thought oh my god he’s such an idiot, I was wearing at these leatherette trousers and he kept looking at my bum all the time.
The trajectory in my life could have been so different. Me and Tim kind of just trundled along, I always thought he was really grumpy and guarded, but I’ve always thought he was an amazing actor.
‘I remember thinking oh my god I’ve got him completely wrong, he drove me home and he got the guitar out and sang for everybody and he wooed me and that was it.’
For many Denise is best known for her role as Natalie Barnes on Coronation Street, the Rovers landlady who broke up the Websters’ marriage thanks to a steamy affair with Kevin.
Reflecting on her time in the soap, the acclaimed actress said: ‘No matter what you do it’s ex-Coronation Street star, but I hold it in great affection, I think people think I did it for longer than I did. I was pregnant with Louis when I left.
‘When Natalie married Des Barnes (played by Philip Middlemiss), our wedding was watched by 20 million people. It was phenomenal, I remember at the time Time was doing a series called The Grand.
‘It was a very daunting time going into it -I was in my late 30s and I’d done things like Solider Soldier and spender. Nothing can prime you for what happens when you go into a soap opera.’
Speaking out: The star also spoke about her time on Coronation Street, and admitted that she was ‘lonely’ during her first few weeks playing Natalie Barnes after moving down to London
Denise has been famously open about her struggles with depression and mental health, and the star admitted she struggled with loneliness during her first weeks on Corrie after moving away from her home in the North East.
She explained: ‘I like being alone, I’m very happy in my own company, everyone I thought I was having this brilliant time, but I was very lonely.
‘I’d moved down to London, Matty was about 9. All my stuff, Natalie’s house was on location. Everybody in the show lived in Manchester and I just kept thinking is anyone gonna invite me for dinner or anything.
‘I felt really lonely for a time, so I made a thing when new people came in, I could make sure they’re OK. I’ve made lifelong friends, Sally Dyvenor, Kevin Kennedy who played Curly. We both had alcohol issues during our time in the street. Charlie Lawson (Jim McDonald) as well.
‘One of my friends was Annie Kirkbride (played Deirdre Barlow), she was so funny, she dragged me off to get my bellybutton pierced once. I just remember Annie dragging me off to Affleck’s Palace in Manchester. When I was pregnant it popped off and I never saw it again!’
Touching: Denise said: ‘No one would ever consider if someone who broke up the Websters marriage would go onto be a long running character’
And after Loose Women replayed Denise’s most famous scene – when her character received an almighty slap from scorned Sally – the actress added: ‘They made us really do that, poor Sally because she is the loveliest person in the world she kept going ”I can’t I just can’t!”
‘That was front page news it was absolutely massive. It was really really sore but that was a great storyline it was so brilliant, no one would ever consider if someone who broke up the Websters marriage would go onto be a long running character. I still think that Natalie owns half that garage!’
Loose Women airs weekdays at 12:30pm on ITV.