It’s rare in life that we get a chance to speak with our idols or heroes, but that’s just what happened to me this week, when recording my latest podcast interview. I decided to call this episode of my podcast series “An Englishman In…” – “Adoration”, because I could think of no word that better summed up my guest; actress, TV presenter, author and mental health advocate Denise Welch.
Denise is perhaps best known, at least to my friends and family, as the fiery femme fatale Natalie Barnes, on the UK’s long running soap opera Coronation Street. I was born the same week that Coronation Street launched in Britain, and so for that reason alone, I feel an affinity to the show and its cast. Denise tells me in the podcast how although some actors and actresses might look down at the idea of performing in a soap, most would jump at the chance to join the cast. She treasurers her time pulling pints as the landlady of The Rovers Return.
I shared another spooky coincidence with Denise. I grew up in Manchester and lived on Waterloo Road. She starred in the TV series Waterloo Road! It was another meaty role for which she rightly earned the love of viewers around the country, and around the world. Denise told me that her favourite TV role was in the series Soldier Soldier and describes it as like being paid to be on holiday, with a bit of work every now and then.
As well as being an acclaimed actress, Denise Welch is perhaps best known for her honest and outspoken truth about her 30 plus year struggle with mental health. She has documented that struggle in print, and her latest book is called “The Unwelcome Visitor – Depression and How I Survived It.” I asked her if she was deliberate in keeping the word “survive” in the present tense, and she tells me that it is an ongoing, everyday struggle and that is why.
During our half hour chat, Denise opens up about why she hopes her being famous and speaking out about her own mental health can hopefully help those who feel trapped, ashamed, or at a loss. In addition, she believes that the current Coronavirus lockdowns in countries like the UK are causing untold damage to people’s mental health.
And she says she has a tip when it comes to answering the question we all get asked these days: how are we feeling? “I think that as long as our kids are doing ok, then we are ok, so I answer people by saying: my kids are doing great and so I am doing great.”
To hear my full interview with this adored actress, click here.