Inside Denise Welchs life – alcohol battle, famous family and Piers Morgan feud

With her famous soap roles and reality TV success, Denise Welch is no stranger to the world of showbiz.

The 63-year-old star, who lives in Cheshire, is widely known for putting the world to rights as a panelist on ITV's Loose Women.

The presenter has been a regular host on the all-female chat show for over a decade, embarking on a long stint from 2005 until 2013 before she took a break before re-joining her co-stars in 2018.

In 2012, she won the ninth series of Celebrity Big Brother – which featured a host of famous faces including X Factor star Frankie Cocozza and EastEnders actress Natalie Cassidy.

Denise is not just a reality star though, because she's enjoyed success in a number of hit shows – including Waterloo Road, Coronation Street and Hollyoaks.

She joined the iconic ITV soap Coronation Street as Natalie Barnes from 1997 to 2000 before taking on the role of Steph Haydock in BBC's Waterloo Road between 2006 and 2010.

Most recently, she joined the cast of Channel 4's Hollyoaks in the role of Trish Minniver.

Despite her time working on nail-biting soaps like Hollyoaks, her real life has come with plenty of drama too, so the Daily Star have taken a look inside the soap star's action-packed life away from the cameras.

Alcoholism battle

The former Corrie actress has now been sober for eight years, but it came after a bitter addiction battle with booze that took a huge toll on her mental health.

In fact, her alcoholism became so bad at one point that it almost led to her losing her husband.

At the beginning of her relationship with her now-husband Lincon Towneley, who was her PR manager, Denise was forced to give him an ultimatum about his drinking.

However, she then found herself facing her own battle with the bottle.

In June last year, Denise revealed she turned to drinking as a way to "take away the pain" as she struggled with depression.

In an excerpt from her book, called The Unwelcome Visitor: Depression and How I Survive It, she confessed she had tried to fight her loneliness with alcohol but said it left her in "a dead zone".

The star claimed that her depression got so bad at one stage that she would hide from people on the set of Coronation Street so that she wouldn't have to interact with others.

In an excerpt of her book, she explained: "Because of my mental illness, there were times I didn’t know if I was going to make it through.

"Alcohol made things worse. I drank a lot, reaching for anything to take away the pain and keep me going… to lift the isolation and loneliness. It put me into kind of a dead zone."

Marking Alcohol Awareness Week last year, the actress took to social media to speak candidly about the effects that alcohol had on her wellbeing.

She said: "Worse than what it was doing to me physically was what it was doing to me mentally. Anxiety, paranoia, anger, fear, depression, shame, you name it".

Clinical depression

Denise was diagnosed with clinical depression in 1989, and she has explained that she wasn't sure whether her alcoholism led to her depression or vice versa, claiming one problem feeds off of the other.

She had realised that she needed help during a holiday in Turkey, and she ended up signing up to Alcoholics Anonymous with the help of her fellow Corrie star Kevin Kennedy.

Recently though, she has achieved a remarkable feat in becoming over eight years sober.

Taking to Twitter to celebrate with her fans, she wrote: "April 18th, I am celebrating being eight years sober, and I just want to thank everybody who has supported me on this journey.

"If it wasn't for my husband Lincoln who got sober with me, I don't know where I would be.

"If any of you are in the early stages or wherever you are in your sobriety journey, I just want to say it will be the best thing you have ever done.

"And for me, it hasn't just changed my life, but it has changed the lives of all the people who love me, and, indeed, my friends".

Weight loss journey

The soap star quit booze back in 2012, but she went on to replace her addiction with food which caused her to gain weight.

Denise soon realised that she would have to take drastic action to avoid plunging her body into crisis – and managed to find success in CBT and meal replacements.

She shared her inspiring weight loss story with her followers on Instagram, alongside a photo of her amazing trimmed-down figure.

In the snap, Denise looked as confident as ever as she showed off her body in in a red bikini.

Captioning the post, she wrote: "7 yrs ago I joined @lighterlife as I’d put on over 2 stone after giving up alcohol.

"I realised I was on a slippery slope of replacing alcohol addiction with food addiction. I wanted a diet plan that would change my relationship with food not just help me lose the weight."

She continued: "@lighterlife was the only one using cognitive behavioural therapy alongside meal replacements (proven to be the best in the UK re vitamins, minerals required for daily intake).

"I lost 2st in 8 weeks and have kept it off ever since. I use the flexifasting plan to feel healthier and to avoid gaining too much again."

Discussing how she was feeling as a result of her weight loss, she added: "The osteoarthritis in my knees and back improved by 90% immediately and have never returned to where they were.

"I regularly spend time with the doctors and dietary specialists who advise the company.

"I have seen hundreds of lives changed for the better and type 2 diabetes reversed after people have reached their goal weight quickly and safely."

She concluded: "I am proud to be the ambassador and we need to acknowledge how important it is to look at why so many people emotionally eat and how food is to many what alcohol was to me."

Famous Family

Mum-of-two Denise is a celebrity in her own right, but some of her fans might not know that she also has a very famous rockstar son.

Her son Matthew Healy was born on 8 April 1989 in London, and Matt has gone on to become the front man of the globally successful pop rock band, The 1975.

Formed in Cheshire, the band have enjoyed four number one albums in the UK and won three BRIT Awards – including Best British Group twice, and British Album of the Year.

Sadly though, Denise struggled with a severe bout of post-natal depression after she welcomed Matt into the world in 1989.

The actress admitted that her depression got so bad at one point that she wished a plane crash would kill her and her son Matt during one nightmare depressive episode.

The Loose Women star had boarded a flight to Australia when Matt was a baby, and she "wished that the plane would go down" so that she would be "out of this pain".

Her son Matt wrote about the incident in an emotional song by The 1975 called She Lays Down that addresses his mother's depression.

The song's lyrics read: "Well we got a plane, going to see my dad again/She prayed that we fell from the sky/ Simply to immediate the pain."

Denise has previously admitted to feeling responsible for Matt's own drug battle, because her own mental health issues led to him having a different upbringing to his Emmerdale star brother Louis, who was 17 at the time she spoke out on her son.

She explained: "I've had issues with drugs in the past.

"My 17 year old has grown up in a sober household, but I do have shame about some of the things Matt has had to see."

Her son Matt entered rehab at the end of a tour in November 2017 following an addiction to heroin.

He opened up to GQ for his interview in the Men Of The Year issue about how life after rehab hasn't been easy for him.

He told GQ: "Honestly, it’s difficult for me because my whole fear was becoming a beacon of sobriety and I’m not that anyway. And, you know, I’ve had my issues over the last two years.

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"I’ve not had a habit at any point and I’ve not really gone back to it, but I’ve had a slip or two. But I’m getting better with it every day really."

Denise's ex-husband Tim Healey is also no stranger to the spotlight.

He starred as Dennis Patterson in comedy drama Auf Wiedersehen Pet and more recently played Les/Lesley Conroy in ITV series Benidorm.

The pair were married from 1988 until their split in 2012.

Piers Morgan feud

Last year, Denise got embroiled in an explosive row with former Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan over the Covid-19 pandemic.

Welch had appeared on This Morning and told Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford that the media and the authorities were "fear-mongering" over Coronavirus.

Denise and Piers ended up getting into a spat on Twitter – disagreeing about Covid-19 infection rates.

Piers labelled her a "dumb, deluded and dangerous Covid-denier".

In a scathing tweet about the Hollyoaks star, he declared: "Dumb, deluded & dangerous Covid-deniers like Denise Welch need to stop being given airtime."

"Her idiotic, ill-informed ramblings – from a woman who never stops telling us that she suffers from mental illness – will cost lives by persuading people to think the virus isn’t a threat."

Denise subsequently took a break from social media in September 2020 following the row.

She claimed the feud had taken a toll on her mental health in a tearful video explaining why she was stepping away from her various online accounts.

The bold broadcaster revived the feud on Twitter the following month when one of his followers asked where Denise had gone.

He replied: "Very quiet on coronavirus, thank god.

"The last thing we need right now is ill-informed, deluded celebrities constantly downplaying the covid threat & making people complacent."

However, the pair clashed once again in May this year when Denise called him out for "berating" mental health sufferers like Naomi Osaka and Meghan Markle.

Piers had lashed out at tennis player Naomi Osaka in his MailOniline column after she had withdrawn from the French Open, citing mental health issues.

Taking to Instagram, Denise shared a print screen of Piers' article – with the headline which read: "Narcissistic Naomi's cynical exploitation of mental health to silence the media is right from the Meghan and Harry playbook of wanting their press cake and eating it."

Captioning the post, Denise told her 230,000 followers she was "disgusted" by Morgan's words.

The Waterloo Road star penned: "Piers Morgan publicly berating a brilliant young woman for prioritising her mental health again!

"Naomi Osaka has bravely withdrawn from the French Open after admitting to crippling depression since 2018 and that fear of talking to press until the end of the competition can bring on her anxiety.

"Anyone who has suffered depression and anxiety knows that life becomes unbearable and you will do anything to stop the pain.

"Piers also proves why so many people suffer in silence because of fear of being called ‘an arrogant narcissistic spoiled brat’. This man is a f***ing disgrace."

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