SHE’S a daytime TV veteran known for her no-nonsense attitude, outspoken opinions and furious telly rows.
Loose Women star Denise Welch has no plans to fade into the background as she gets olderCredit: BackGrid
Denise with husband Lincoln Townley, 49, who she says has trouble ‘keeping up’ with her despite being 15 years her juniorCredit: Rex Features
‘Well, I say you should wear a bikini any age you like — and I’m going to wear one until I am 97 just to spite the people who say I shouldn’t’Credit: instagram
The mum-of-two has vowed to stay on our screens and keep posting sexy swimsuit selfies on social media well into her 90s.
The 64-year-old presenter says she’s sick of older women being made to feel “invisible” while older men in the industry are treated as “silver foxes”.
And she blasts the “boring, stereotypical characters” written for actresses of her age that don’t reflect the real lives of her and her friends.
Denise says: “The roles are always of the granny who hasn’t had sex for 20 years.
“Well believe you me, there’s life in the old birds yet. I am married to someone 15 years younger than me and he has a job keeping up with me.”
She’s referring to her artist husband Lincoln Townley, 49, who she met in a nightclub and married in 2013 in a fairytale wedding in the Algarve.
The former Coronation Street actress says she is determined to use her fame to turn the tables and show that older women can still be sexy and relevant well into their 60s, 70s and beyond.
‘It’s a tough time’
She says: “It’s very important for me to empower other women. Although I am quite Marmite, I have a lot of people who like me and who find things that I say and do inspiring — so I really treasure that responsibility.
“There are a lot of articles like, ‘Should you wear a bikini over the age of 50?’.
“Well, I say you should wear a bikini any age you like — and I’m going to wear one until I am 97 just to spite the people who say I shouldn’t.
“I have bumps and lumps and bulges and cellulite and all of those things.
“I don’t use any filters on my bikini shots — although I do get my husband to stand on a chair to get the best angle.
“When The Beatles wrote that song, When I’m 64, there was the lyric ‘when I get older, losing my hair’ — that was the perception we had — that older people lost their good looks.
“We don’t have that any more. It doesn’t matter what year you were born. I actually feel better in my 60s than in my 40s and 50s.
“I think it is very important to say to women: ‘Don’t be told what you can and can’t wear’.
“So when I put one of those pictures on Instagram, it is not me going: ‘Hey guys, look at me!’ . . . that’s just cringe.
“I have to say, 99 per cent of the comments will be positive — it’s wonderful — and I will continue to do it.”
But despite feeling comfortable in her own skin, Denise feels it’s easy for women to become insecure as they get older when work dries up, children become less dependent and relationships change.
“I think the word ‘invisible’ will resonate with a lot of people,” she says. “When you have been focused on your career and raising children — often doing both at the same time — and then that ends, it’s a tough time.
“I find that women and men in couples say to me that they have to re-establish who they are and also their relationship. That can make you insecure.
“It’s also very difficult for people to get back out there who are divorced or who have lost a partner. It’s not the same.
“Going out and sitting at a bar is fine when you are younger but it’s not what people of my age want to do any more.
“A lot of my single friends who are my age are not bothered about finding a partner. They just want to have a lovely friendship group.
“And sometimes people move away with their families, they move to where their kids are and suddenly they find themselves lonely.
“There’s a difference between being alone and being lonely.
‘Loneliness is hard’
“Everyone likes a bit of alone time but loneliness is really hard to bear.”
Denise was speaking while taking part in Age UK’s new Walking Football Programme for women over 50, which has been launched to combat loneliness.
She said: “I love women, I love women together — I’m a real woman’s woman. That’s why I love Loose Women so much.
“Mental health issues still have, sadly, certain stigmas around them. But when people come together, that’s when things start to happen.
“It is so important to talk about your feelings.”
Despite regularly showing off her figure on social media, Denise admits her busy working calendar means some weeks she struggles to find the time and motivation to work out.
“I work quite hard and naturally I’m quite lazy. I find that it is very easy for me to do a ten-hour binge of true crime in one sitting,” she says.
“There’s nothing wrong with having a duvet day and we shouldn’t punish ourselves, but I am aware I am seizing up if I don’t move.
“After menopause, our bodies get more brittle, our joints start to seize up and you can feel the starting of horrible things like arthritis.
“So it’s really important we keep moving physically and find ways to do that, like Walking Football.”
While the actress tends to stay fit by walking and dancing, she has no plans to follow in the footsteps of her Loose Women co-stars by going on Strictly Come Dancing.
Comedian Judi Love made it through to week six last year and Kaye Adams is taking part this year.
She said: “I cannot wait for Strictly. The Kaye I know is not a natural dancer but she may surprise us all.
“She’s a journalist, she has to anchor our show, she works for the BBC on the radio in Scotland — she has to be the more slightly grown-up one.
“But believe you me, she is a dark horse! You’ll see another side to her.”
And she applauded her pal for recently revealing she is about to turn 60.
Kaye admitted on her new podcast that she is “age phobic” and has lied about her age for years, even misleading her own daughter.
Denise says: “She’s always had this ridiculous fear of her real age. I never understand it because people you went to school with will know.
“But she is embracing being nearly 60 and I think Strictly is a great way to do it.”
Fellow Loose Women Judi Love made it through to week six in Strictly last year and Kaye Adams is taking part this yearCredit: Rex
Talking of fellow Loose Women star Faye and her upcoming stint on Strictly, Denise said ‘believe you me, she is a dark horse! You’ll see another side to her’Credit: Rex
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