The last time Coleen Nolan was on a Dundee stage, she was a tender 19 years old and flanked by her army of older sisters.
The Nolans, who stormed the pop music scene in the ’80s with tracks like I’m In The Mood For Dancing and Don’t Make Waves, were at Dundee’s Whitehall Theatre in 1984.
Back then, Coleen was the baby of the girl group, which originally consisted of herself, Maureen, Anne, Denise, Linda and their late sister Bernadette (Bernie).
Now, 40 years on, the TV presenter and Loose Women mainstay is returning to the Bellfield Street theatre and taking to the stage solo for the first time in her aptly named one-woman show, Naked.
“I’ve called it Naked, because I feel naked,” laughs Coleen, 58, when I call her at her Cheshire home ahead of the show, where she’s surrounded by dogs, cats and – outside – goats.
“I feel very vulnerable and exposed because I’ve always been surrounded by either my sisters on stage, or my Loose Women sisters on telly!”
Loss of Bernie spurred Coleen to make most of life
Not to be drawn on whether she will actually be naked during the show – “buy a ticket and find out!” – Coleen explains that it was watching her older sisters age and losing Bernie which spurred her to take the plunge and go on tour solo.
“The thing is, we lost Bernie. And Linda is really ill with brain cancer. So I don’t know if we’ll have the chance to perform together again,” she says solemnly.
“Singing and performing live is my first and greatest love, and I just sat there one day and thought: I don’t want to get to an age where I can’t do it, and end up wishing I’d just tried it. The thought of never singing again really saddens me.
“Also I just think it’s a good message, to say to people that no matter what age you are, you’re never too old to give it a try. What have you got to lose?
“Well, actually,” she hesitates, “I suppose I’ve got my whole reputation to lose. I might be mortified!”
Stage fright battle has been lifelong for Coleen
A lifelong sufferer of “terrible” stage fright, Coleen admits that even as she enters her 50th year in showbiz, she’s constantly battling the instinct to run for the exit whenever she’s waiting in the wings.
“I must drive my management mad,” she laughs. “Even Loose Women, I’ve been in that 24 years and the girls are all still amazed that before every show, I get so nervous!”
But beyond the nerves, Coleen is definitely in the mood for dancing at these musical journeys through her life and career – and she hopes her audiences will get up and join her.
“I want to take the audience through my life story, but mainly through songs, and what songs meant what to me throughout each era,” she continues, citing Bruno Mars, Adele, Miley Cyrus and Angus lad Cammy Barnes as some of her go-to listens.
“I want them to see the real me, and not the one they always see on the telly. You’re quite restricted when you’re on the telly, especially daytime,” she explains, then quickly bats away the inevitable rumours of ‘toxicity’ on the Loose Women set by stating: “If it was toxic, I wouldn’t have been there for over 20 years.”
‘I’m not a showbiz person’
Still, despite a lifetime spent in the spotlight, Coleen insists that she feels like a “fake celebrity” and would much rather spend her time chin-wagging in Tesco than schmoozing at a red carpet.
“I’m not a showbiz person. I’m very much like, when I finish work, I want to come home,” she says.
“And I love meeting real people. I have no time for celebrities that go ‘I wish they’d leave me alone’ or ‘I’m not having selfies or doing autographs’.
“I hate that, because I think they’ve forgotten how important those people are.”
No stranger to heartache after two divorces, Coleen hopes her show will remind Dundee audiences of the swooning ballads and sassy anthems that have got them through life’s ups and downs over the past few decades.
“I’m a real lyric person, so if I can relate to the lyrics, I’ll love the song,” she adds. “I love a sad Phil Collins-type ballad, I love sobbing round my house when I’m hurt.
“But I also love the empowering songs that get you back on your feet, like Miley Cyrus’ Flowers or I Will Survive.”
Loved-up Coleen getting wise in matters of the heart
And though she’s embarking on a solo tour, Coleen’s heart remains solidly part of a double act, as she continues her happy relationship with boyfriend Michael Jones.
“Everything’s going great on that front,” she smiles. “But because I’ve had two marriages (to Shane Ritchie and Ray Fensome), it scares me to death.
“When I got married the first time, for me it was forever. When I got married the second time, it was forever. But life teaches you as you go along.
“And I always said if somebody hurt me, it wouldn’t make me hate everyone.
“I believe in second chances. Everyone’s human, we all make mistakes,” she says, then gives a knowing look before firmly adding: “Once.”
As a long-time agony aunt, Coleen regularly doles out dating advice to hundreds of readers across the UK. But aside from music, where does her wisdom come from?
“I guess just watching my siblings,” she muses. “I was the youngest of a very big family, so I used to watch them all the time, whether it was my sisters or my brothers in relationships, and thinking: ‘I’m not going to do that’.
“And I learned from my parents, too. I remember my dad, when I was really young, saying: ‘It’s more important to be in like with someone than it is to be in love with them’.
“And at first I couldn’t make that out, but as I’ve got older, I’ve realised it’s so true.”
Coleen Nolan: Naked will be at Dundee’s Whitehall Theatre on February 19 2024.