Denise Welch

Jacqueline Denise Welch (born 22 May 1958) is an English actress and television personality. She is known for her roles as Natalie Barnes in Coronation Street (1997–2000) and Steph Haydock in Waterloo Road (2006–2010). She is also known for her appearances as a regular panellist on the ITV chat show Loose Women from 2005 to 2013, and 2018 onwards.

Denise Welch
Denise Welch.png
Publicity photo of Welch
Jacqueline Denise Welch

(1958-05-22) 22 May 1958 (age 62)
  • Actress
  • television personality
Years active1983–present
(m. 1983; div. 1988)

(m. 1988; div. 2012)

(m. 2013)
Children2; including Matthew Healy
WebsiteOfficial website

Welch's other acting roles include the television dramas Spender (1991–1993), Soldier, Soldier (1993–1995) and Down to Earth (2004–2005). In 2011, she was a contestant on the sixth series of Dancing on Ice, where she was partnered with professional skater Matt Evers, and in 2012, she won the ninth series of Celebrity Big Brother.

Early lifeEdit

Jacqueline Denise Welch was born in Tynemouth, Northumberland.[1] She has a younger sister Debbie.[2][3] She attended Bygate School in Whitley Bay and La Sagesse School in Newcastle upon Tyne,[4] before moving to Ebchester, County Durham at the age of 13 where she attended Blackfyne Grammar School in Consett and passed five GCE exams.[1][5][6][7] She developed a penchant for acting at the age of 14 after being cast in a school production of Finian's Rainbow. At the age of 17, she contemplated going to a teacher training college in Crewe;[1] however, her father and drama teacher suggested she apply for the Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in London. She was successful in her application and remained at the school from 1976 to 1979, gaining her Equity Card while teaching dance at the Watford Palace Theatre.[3][5]



Welch became an actress straight after leaving school.[3] She performed on stage in London in Yakkety-Yak with the McGann brothers at the Astoria Theatre in 1983, and later joined the Live Theatre Company, Newcastle, where she featured in many productions, including There's a Girl in My Soup, and an Alan Ayckbourn quartet of plays including Bedroom Farce. She also played the role of Sandy in the popular musical Grease at the Haymarket Theatre, Leicester, in 1984.[5]

Her first TV appearance was in the Tyne Tees Television production Barriers in 1981.[5] A few years later she appeared in ITV's hit drama, Auf Wiedersehen, Pet (1986), and she followed this with roles in the children's television show Byker Grove (1990–1991); A Kind of Living (1988); the Catherine Cookson adaptation The Glass Virgin (1995); and she appeared opposite Jimmy Nail in BBC's Spender (1991–1993).[3]

In 1993, Welch became a household name when she was cast as Marsha Stubbs in ITV's drama series Soldier Soldier. Owing to her success in the series, she released a single in 1995, a double-A side "You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me/Cry Me a River" which reached #23 and spent three weeks in the UK singles chart.[5]

Welch gained even wider notability in 1997, when she was cast as Natalie Horrocks in the long-running ITV soap opera Coronation Street.[3] Natalie was introduced as a divorcee, who soon became the mistress of Kevin Webster, played by Michael Le Vell. Originally portrayed as a femme fatale, Natalie rose to respectability by becoming landlady of the soap's public house The Rovers Return. In 2000, the Coronation Street producers wanted her to perform a storyline involving Natalie having a miscarriage, but she refused, saying the character had already lost her husband and son. However, Welch, who was expecting a baby the same year, decided to leave the serial. At the time, Welch commented, "I am looking forward to being a mum again and spending some time with my baby and am relishing the prospect of new challenges in my career." A spokesperson for Granada TV commented "The character [Natalie] will be gone as she moves to somewhere new, we wish Denise well both for the birth of her baby and for her future career."[8]

In 2002, Welch guest-starred in ITV's Where the Heart Is, and BBC's hospital drama Holby City, playing risk manager Pam McGrath, who conducted an on-screen relationship with the character Mubbs Hussein (played by Ian Aspinall). She has guest-starred twice in ITV's long-running police drama The Bill (in 1997 and 2006), and has also appeared in the BBC's Doctors (2004), Down to Earth (2004–2005), Born and Bred (2002–2003). Welch starred (with second billing) in the British feature film The Jealous God (2005) and Hollyoaks: In the City (2006), amongst other appearances. From 2006 to 2010, she appeared as French teacher Steph Haydock in the successful BBC One school-based drama series Waterloo Road, and played Janet "Goldie" Gold in an episode called "Rogue" of the long-running medical drama series, Casualty, which aired on 2 July 2011.

Welch originally won the role as Frances Myers in Bad Girls, but ended up declining it owing to illness at the time; her future Waterloo Road co-star Eva Pope received the part instead. Welch left Waterloo Road and intended not to return for Series 6, but eventually decided to return for the final two episodes.

Via the BenidormTweets Twitter feed, it was revealed that Welch would have a part in Series 4 of Benidorm.[9] She played the part of 'Scary Mary' alongside her then-husband Tim Healy.

In 2012, Welch played Truvy in the touring production of Steel Magnolias.[10]

In 2013, Welch played the part of Catherine Robinson in Richard Bean's Smack Family Robinson at the Rose Theatre in Kingston.[11]

On 25 March 2016, it was announced that Welch would guest star in EastEnders as Alison Slater, the estranged mother of Kyle Slater (Riley Carter Millington) and secret stepmother of Stacey Slater (Lacey Turner). Of her casting, Welch stated: “I’m so thrilled to be part of such an iconic show; it’s so exciting! I have several friends on the show and it’s a great crowd so I can’t wait to get started. It’s a short stint but such a powerful role and I’m thrilled to be taking this on.”[12] Welch made her initial appearance as Alison on 3 May 2016, with fans praising her performance and insisting she was given a permanent role in the soap.

In 2017, Welch appeared as Valerie in the romantic comedy film Finding Fatimah.[13] In January 2018, it was announced that Welch would play Celia in the UK touring production of Calendar Girls: The Musical.[14]

In May 2020, Welch appeared as Doll Belvedere in the online series Dun Breedin, written by and starring Julie Graham alongside Angela Griffin, Alison Newman, Tracy-Ann Oberman and Tamzin Outhwaite in leading roles. Due to the lockdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Welch's scenes were filmed in her own home, and the series also stars her husband, Lincoln Townley, as Doll's husband Zoot.

Presenting and personal appearancesEdit

Welch has presented numerous television shows and also appeared in a series of SCS adverts promoting soft furnishings. She hosted her own DIY series The Real DIY Show in 2000 and Soap Fever for ITV2. In 2001, she appeared on Lily Savage's Blankety Blank.[15] Since 2005, she has been a regular panellist on ITV's topical lunchtime chat show Loose Women. In 1999 she appeared as Petula Clark in ITV's celebrity singing contest Stars in Their Eyes.

In 2008, Welch appeared on a celebrity version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire along with Falklands War hero Simon Weston. In 2009, Welch took over as narrator of the revamped series of 10 Years Younger, for Channel 4. She also participated in Playing the Part, a documentary on BBC One on 21 May 2009, in which she went back to her old secondary school, Consett Community Sports College, and taught there for a week.[16]

Welch shows her support for the children's charity, Children North East which is based in Newcastle, by making appearances at events and supporting community-based projects. In April 2010, Welch appeared with her husband Tim on ITV's All Star Mr & Mrs and donated their runner-up prize of £5,000 to Children North East. She also appears in the biannual benefit concert Sunday for Sammy, recently parodying the show Loose Women as "Slack Lasses".

Welch guest presented ITV Breakfast programme, Lorraine, in November 2010.

Beginning on 9 January 2011, Welch participated in the sixth series of Dancing on Ice on ITV with her skating partner, American professional ice skater Matt Evers, who partnered Zöe Salmon and Heather Mills in previous series. On the eighth week of the show, which was broadcast on 6 March 2011, she and Evers were the seventh couple to be voted out of the competition after losing the skate-off to army soldier, Johnson Beharry.

In January 2012, Welch was a housemate in Celebrity Big Brother on Channel 5 in the UK. She went on to win the series, beating Frankie Cocozza in the final.[17]

In 2013, she participated in the ITV dancing show Stepping Out with husband Lincoln Townley.

It is believed Welch "walked out" of Loose Women in October 2013 due to differences with the new director of ITV, Helen Warner.[18] She returned to the show in June 2018.

She appeared on the 2014 Christmas special of Through the Keyhole, hosted by Keith Lemon.

In early September 2020, Welch appeared on This Morning claiming in her interview with Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford that the media and the authorities are "fear-mongering" over the COVID-19 pandemic.[19] She had a disagreement on Twitter with Piers Morgan over COVID-19 infection rates. Morgan called her "deluded" and "dangerous" after her appearance on This Morning.[20] On 20 September 2020, Welch announced that she would be taking a break from Twitter.

Personal lifeEdit

Welch lives in Cheshire.[21] Her first marriage was to actor David Easter, from 1983 until their divorce in 1988; Welch has since gone public with her belief that he committed adultery.[22] Welch met Tim Healy while they were working together for Newcastle's Live Theatre Company. They married in Haringey, London, in 1988 and have two children: Matthew Timothy (born 8 April 1989, Hendon, London), who is a member of the alternative rock band the 1975, and Louis Vincent (born 2 March 2001, Salford).[3] Welch announced, live on Loose Women on 6 February 2012, that she and Healy were separated and that they had been for a long time. Shortly after that, Welch announced that she was dating her PR manager, Lincoln Townley. In August 2012, it was revealed that she and Townley were engaged.[23] On 13 July 2013, they married in Portugal.

Welch confessed that her marriage was nearly ruined because of her mental illness, as well as an affair she had during her depression. With the help of her former Coronation Street co-star Kevin Kennedy, she attended Alcoholics Anonymous and suggests this helped her end her dependency on alcohol. In April 2010, her 320-page autobiography Pulling Myself Together was published, in which she describes how she overcame her problems with alcohol, drugs and depression. It became a best-seller in the UK.[1]

In a February 2015 interview, she said that she felt "freer from my mental health issues in my 50s than I did in my 30s and 40s".[24]

In April 2017, Welch announced her backing of Women's Equality Party candidate Tabitha Morton in the Liverpool City Region mayoral election.[25][26]


Year Title Role Notes
2005 The Jealous God Maureen
2009 A Bit of Tom Jones? Delilah
2011 Bloody Norah Mum Television film
2012 Loserville Susan Lewis Television film
2017 Finding Fatimah Valerie
2019 Burning Men Julie
Year Title Role Notes
1986 Auf Wiedersehen, Pet Jean 1 episode
1988 A Kind of Living Jane 1 episode
1990–1991 Byker Grove Polly Bell 7 episodes
1995 The Glass Virgin Jessie 2 episodes
1991–1993 Spender Frances Spender 14 episodes
1993 Soldier Soldier Marsha Stubbs Recurring role; 26 episodes
1997–2000 Coronation Street Natalie Barnes Regular role; 490 episodes
1997, 2006 The Bill Elaine Wallace, Sheila Hayman 2 episodes
2000 Holby City Pam McGrath 1 episode
2002 Where the Heart Is Linda Sargent 1 episode
2002–2003 Born and Bred Edie McClure 2 episodes
2004, 2016 Doctors Jane Howard, Judith Whitney 4 episodes
2004–2005 Down to Earth Jackie Murphy Recurring role; 18 episodes
2006–2010 Waterloo Road Steph Haydock Regular role; 80 episodes
2010 Benidorm Scary Mary 1 episode
2011 Casualty Janet "Goldie" Gold 1 episode
2015–2016 Boy Meets Girl Pam McDonald 12 episodes
2016 EastEnders Alison Slater Episode 5276
2018 Different for Girls Maeve 1 episode
2020 Class Dismissed Pam Travers
2020 Dun Breedin Doll Belvedere Main role
2021 Hollyoaks Trish Minniver Regular role
As herself
Year Title Role
1999 Celebrity Stars in Their Eyes
2000 The Real DIY show Presenter
2000 Soap Fever Presenter
2002, 2005–2013, 2018–present Loose Women Panellist
2008 Who Wants to be a Millionaire Contestant
2009 10 Years Younger
2009 Playing the Part
2010 All Star Mr & Mrs Contestant
2010 Lorraine Guest Presenter
2011 Dancing on Ice Contestant
2012 Celebrity Big Brother Housemate
2012 Piers Morgan's Life Stories Herself, guest
2012 The Chase: Celebrity Special Herself, contestant
2013 Tipping Point: Lucky Stars Herself, contestant, won £20000 for Mind
2013 Stepping Out Herself, contestant
2013 Through the Christmas Keyhole Herself, celebrity homeowner
2013 The Cube: Celebrity Special Herself, contestant, won £333 for Mind
2019–present British Adventures Co-presenter



  • Pulling Myself Together (Pan, 2010) ISBN 9780330513012
  • Starting Over (Pan, 2012) ISBN 9781447222484
  • The Unwelcome Visitor (Hodder and Stoughton, 2020) ISBN 9780330513012



  1. ^ a b c d Welch, Denise (2010). Pulling myself together. London: Sidgwick & Jackson. ISBN 9780283071089.
  2. ^ England & Wales, Birth Index: 1837–1983; June 1958, p.377
  3. ^ a b c d e f Staff writer (31 December 2006). "Ask: Denise Welch". Evening Chronicle. Newcastle. Retrieved 13 February 2008.
  4. ^ "La Sagesse to close this summer". The Chronicle. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d e Staff writer (15 October 2006). "100 North East Heroes". Evening Chronicle. Newcastle. Retrieved 13 February 2008.
  6. ^ O'Donovan, Gerard (20 May 2009). "The One to Watch: Thursday 21 May". The Telegraph. Retrieved 3 September 2018.
  7. ^ Walsh, John (24 May 2009). "Playing the Part, BBC1". The Independent. Retrieved 3 September 2018.
  8. ^ Staff writer (20 September 2000). "Natalie to leave the Street". BBC News. Archived from the original on 2 February 2008. Retrieved 13 February 2008.
  9. ^ "TV Choice Awards Update: Best Actress - Denise Welsh!". Twitter. 6 September 2010. Retrieved 6 September 2010.
  10. ^ "Steel Magnolias - UK tour". David Ian Productions. November 2011.
  11. ^ "Richard Bean's Smack Family Robinson". Rose Theatre, Kingston. 2013.
  12. ^ EastEnders news team (25 March 2016). "Denise Welch to guest star in EastEnders". EastEnders News & Spoilers. BBC. Retrieved 11 April 2016.
  13. ^ "Finding Fatimah official website". Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  14. ^ Bourne, Dianne (19 January 2018). "Denise Welch strips off to star in Gary Barlow's Calendar Girls musical". men. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  15. ^ "Series 1, Episode 5". Lily Savage's Blankety Blank. 4 February 2016. ITV. Repeated 24 August 2016 on Challenge TV.
  16. ^ "Review: Playing the Part". 21 May 2009. Archived from the original on 22 May 2009. Retrieved 21 May 2009.
  17. ^ Staff writer (28 January 2012). "Denise Welch wins Celebrity Big Brother 2012". Evening Chronicle. Newcastle. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
  18. ^ Wonfor, Sam (7 October 2013). "Denise Welch quits Loose Women TV show". Evening Chronicle. Newcastle.
  19. ^ "Denise Welch accuses the media of 'fear-mongering' during coronavirus crisis". ITV. 4 September 2020. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  20. ^ "Piers Morgan calls Denise Welch 'dangerous' after controversial coronavirus interview on This Morning". The Independent. 4 September 2020. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  21. ^ Loose Women, 23 April 2013
  22. ^ Staff writer (3 December 2001). "Denise's TV 'date' with her ex". Northern Echo. Retrieved 15 May 2007.
  23. ^ WENN (18 August 2012). "Denise Welch gets engaged to toyboy lover Lincoln Townley". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 29 June 2013.
  24. ^ Fagan, Gabrielle (5 February 2015). "Denise Welch: "I feel freer from my mental health issues in my 50s"". Time To Talk day.
  25. ^ "Why Denise Welch is backing us". Women's Equality Party. 21 April 2017. Retrieved 22 April 2017.
  26. ^ Bourdillon, Roxy (21 April 2017). "DIVA Ally of the Year Denise Welch backs WEP's Tabitha Morton". DIVA. Retrieved 22 April 2017.

External linksEdit

Preceded by
Paddy Doherty
Celebrity Big Brother UK Winner
Series 9 (2012)
Succeeded by
Julian Clary