■ The Loose Woman star, 54, on reuniting with The Nolans, that argument with Kim and acting on stage
What gave you the confidence to do your first acting role in the play The Thunder Girls?
My belief in Melanie Blake, who wrote it, and her belief in me. I’ve done pantos but if you mess up, it adds to it. Not in this play. It’s nerve-racking.
What’s stopped you from doing it until now?
It’s just not been the right time. I’ve been lucky over the years to be offered West End roles but my kids were young and I didn’t want to uproot them from school or leave them for months on end. But now my youngest is about to turn 18 and I’m divorced so I don’t have a husband to worry about.
Has single life made you feel more open to opportunities?
Absolutely. I’m also 54 so The Thunder Girls proves life doesn’t end just because you get to a certain age, you’re not a size eight, you’ve gone through the menopause or your kids don’t need you any more. All of the women in the play are in their fifties and above, and everyone on production is a woman. It’s a lot better for women than it used to be but there’s still a long way to go. The Thunder Girls is a great boost to that.
You play a pop star on a comeback. How much can you relate to her?
Massively. She’s from a successful 1980s girl band that split up and did a reunion tour 30 years later. I can’t relate to the fact they hate each other but I can relate to how hard it is to be back in a group situation after being independent for so long.
Was reforming The Nolans everything you hoped?
It was bigger and better than we had ever done in our heyday, and to do it for the nostalgia without the pressure of having hit records was so much fun. We instantly went back to our roles. I was the baby sister and quite quiet, Linda was bossy, Maureen was the pacifier and Bernie was feisty.
How did you stay sane, having fame from such a young age?
Coming from a big family, if any of us got too big for our boots there was always someone who’d go, ‘Who do you think you are?’ Also, I was 15 when we did I’m In The Mood For Dancing but I’d been singing from the age of two. People would say, ‘I’d love to be on Top Of The Pops’ but we were doing it every other week and I just wanted to go out with my friends! I wanted to be a vet and I think my dad hoped I’d have a normal life. Then I realised you need to be intelligent to do veterinary science and I didn’t know what else to do. Thank goodness, otherwise I’d have been castrating animals for the past 50 years!
Are you blasé when you meet famous people?
No, I still get starstruck. I remember the first time I met Ant and Dec, I got so excited and was trying to be so cool. Growing up, we were obsessed with The Osmonds because they were six brothers and the same ages as us — we were dubbed the female version. Whenever they were in concert Linda was the one screaming and fainting when Donny came on but then there we were having pictures with them!
Do you regret being so candid on Loose Women?
Sometimes I come home and think, ‘Oh, no!’ and, ‘What have I said now?’ I wish I was a bit more media-savvy but I just don’t think it’s going to happen.
You’ve been attacked by internet trolls. How do you guard against vitriol?
So much happened last year. I was planning The Thunder Girls, halfway through getting divorced, my house was up for sale and when the Kim Woodburn thing happened [their feud saw Woodburn storming off the Loose Women set] everything exploded. The positive of that is it made me take time out. I got my perspective back and learnt to accept not everyone likes you.
How do you switch off?
As soon as I walk through my front door I’m switched off. I have four dogs, two cats, four horses and two pygmy goats. It’s chaos, like a small zoo, and on top of that my children are all home at the moment and I love it. It reminds me of being a kid as I grew up in chaos and noise.
You’re very successful on reality shows. Are there any you would like to do?
Strictly Come Dancing but they don’t want me for some reason. I’m devastated as it’s the only one I’ve ever wanted to do but the only one I’ve never been asked to do! Hopefully one day, while my hips still work. My favourite thing in the last couple of years was The Real Full Monty. I could do that for ever — not getting my boobs out but the actual premise of the show. I didn’t know I would be acting for the first time at 54 so who knows what lies ahead? It’s all very exciting.
Coleen Nolan is starring in The Thunder Girls which opens at The Lowry in Salford on September 24, thelowry.com