EXCLUSIVE Denise van Outen: ‘I’ve still got my outfits from the ’90s’

The TV fave on friendships and trying to be a 'cool mum'


by heat staff |
Updated on

Back in the 1990s, as the host of The Big Breakfast, Denise Van Outen was the ultimate cool girl. Fast-forward to 2024, having just turned 50, and she's never been busier.

The mum of one (she has daughter Betsy with her ex, Lee Mead) is returning to the stage for the ten-year anniversary of her one-woman play, Some Girl I Used To Know, directed by Denise's long-time pal Tamzin Outhwaite.

heat caught up with Denise to talk female friendship, parenting a teen, and why '90s fashion will never go out of style.

You're returning to the stage for Some Girl I Used To Know. How does it feel to be treading the boards again?

The reason I've held back for the past ten years is because I've been a single mum - I wanted to be present at home with my daughter, and it's hard to do that if you're doing theatre. But she's 14 now, and she comes to the theatre and hangs out with me and watches me. I couldn't do that when she was younger.

Betsy recently joined you in an Instagram post for teen beauty brand Indu. How did that come about?

That was led by her, but she's not got aspirations to be an influencer or anything. It was just a one-off thing.

British actress Denise Van Outen poses for photographers at the European premiere of Amsterdam at the Odeon cinema, in London, on September 21, 2022. (Photo by SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP) (Photo by SEBASTIEN BOZON/AFP via Getty Images)

How would you feel about bringing her into this industry a bit more?

I'm protective, and her dad is the same, but I don't mind. If it's in her, like it is me and her dad, then she'll find it, and it's find her.

Nineties fashion is making a real comeback - does Betsy use your old looks for inspiration?

Some of it never went away for me. So, I've either been really out of fashion... I kept all my chokers from the '90s and I still wear them. I kept loads of my old clothes, too, because I thought Betsy would want them - but she doesn't.

Does she think you're a cool mum?

We have this conversation all the time, because all her friends think I'm really cool, so I'm hoping I can bring Betsy around. She thinks my DJ-ing is pretty cool, because I have my decks at home.

You've teamed up with TK Maxx to celebrate their 30th birthday - what did 1994 look like in the world of DVO?

I think that year I was in a girl band called Those Two Girls. That's when I first met Louise Redknapp - who was Louise Nurding then - and the Eternal girls. We were all really young, touring around the country on the Radio 1 tour. I was having the time of my life.

It's lovely that you and Louise have been friends for 30 years. Will you be celebrating together?

We are, actually! We had a night out a couple of weeks ago, and we're planning our next girls' night out. It's nice that our friendships have all lasted. All the All Saints girls, and Emmas Bunton, I'm really good friends with them from school [they all went to the Sylvia Young Theatre School]. I don't think there was any competition between any of us.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Ken McKay/Shutterstock (278680a) Johnny Vaughan AND DENISE VAN OUTEN THE '' BIG BREAKFAST '' TV SERIES, BRITAIN - 1997

What's the secret to maintaining a long-lasting friendship in this industry?

We've all done our growing up together and we all really respect each other. We've all really grafted to keep our careers going and we're all still here. That's where the respect comes from.

It feels like you've lived so many lives, but what's been the highlight of your career?

The Big Breakfast, and the freedom of TV at the time is hard to match. Theatre, I would say Chicago in New York. I like the fact that I have a varied career. I've never been bored.

You were a finalist on Strictly Come Dancing in 2012. Have you kept the ballroom dancing going?

I'd love to do it again. I've always said whenever there's a Christmas special, "Get me on it" because I did love it. But I can't do a lot of the things I could do before. I could do the splits on Strictly, and I can't now - I've tried in the kitchen!

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