People like the lunchtime UTV programme, Loose Women, because the personalities or celebrities who star in it come across as real people who have real opinions and often say gloriously revealing and sometimes non PC things. Coleen Nolan is one such presenter. Now she has written her story, Upfront & Personal, and as the blurb says, it is – entertaining funny and shockingly honest.
She was born into showbusiness, joining her famous sisters, The Nolans, onstage at the tender age of two and at fifteen she was touring with the family and having hit-records and amazing success. The Nolan Sisters had a glossy goody goody image with high record sales and at one point sold more records than The Beatles in Japan. People still bop to their huge hit, I’m In The Mood For Dancing.
This career led her onto a showbusiness marriage to Shane Richie, a career in television presenting and this year she rocked the ratings with Dancing On Ice. The fact that the public kept voting her back, despite her obvious lack of poise, showed how loved she is in that people see those shows as entertainment, not reality.
Coleen needs the rush and exhilaration of celebrity and gushes on in that faux innocence that endears her to thousands if not millions of viewers. Here is a girl who remembers the rapturous applause for her Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, when she was onstage at two years of age. Her parents were talented singers, her mum was a trained soprano and her father performed in Clery’s Ballroom in Dublin.
Her early life in Blackpool when ten of them lived in a terraced house and the stories of touring as a family act, are scary and sad to read. Despite all the good stuff her father comes across as a nasty piece of work; Mr. Charming on stage, Mr Controlling at home.
The early romances are fun and the elopement to get married to Shane Richie, is girly stuff but the reader is not all that well prepared for the collapse of that showbiz marriage. Or the scandal of her sister Anne writing a book, exposing her father as a molester.
The photographs in the book span an era of changing fashions and hairstyles. Maternity wear looks weird now but no weirder than Shane’s rockers wedding suit.
Her compassion for people is tender and her gushy, Jesus Mary And Joseph style of writing, endears you to her. She lost her This Morning job because she spoke about promising her fifteen year old son, Shane Jnr, she’d pay for him and a friend to go to Amsterdam for a weekend if he passed his GCSEs. This turned into a controversy about prostitutes, good celebrity fodder. In a typical male aside, Shane Richie was irate and ranted that no son of his was paying for sex.
Coleen’s second wedding was a happy and a sad affair and her cancer scare during the Dancing On Ice, is a salutary story but in its showbizzy – nothing is sacred or deeply personal – way, reminds you o a little girl looking for and needing big doses of attention and reassurance. This book is that reassurance – a big life-affirming hug before the world of celebrity.