Denise Van Outen planning ‘big wedding – if Eddie Boxshall pops the question

She's already training for Dancing on Ice – but Denise Van Outen reckons the biggest challenge is those skimpy costumes.

The TV favourite is getting her skates on for the January series alongside Myleene Klass, Rebekah Vardy and Jason Donovan.

And while her moves on the ice are helping her tone up, she admits it’s harder than ever to say in shape once you hit your forties.

Denise says: “There’s no doubt on the show the costumes they give you can be fitted and revealing.

“They’re very figure-hugging, so I want to make sure I have a good figure while I’m wearing them.

“I feel fit and that I’m toning up my body, which has been great. I’m 46 and have to work a little bit harder now to keep in shape.

“When you’re on the ice you’re burning calories from the cold, so that probably helps.”

Viewers last saw the Essex-born star on Celebrity Gogglebox with partner Eddie Boxshall, also 46.

And while the pair are not yet engaged, they have decided to put any potential wedding plans on hold until they can have a proper knees-up post-pandemic.

“We have talked about it obviously but if we do it, we don’t want to do a small group,” says Denise. “If you’re going to get to our age and do it, we want a big wedding. We’ll hold out.”

While she’s already mum to Betsy, Denise has ruled out having any more kids – well human ones anyway. Instead she’s taken on a new pup to add to the family’s first pooch Tilly.

She says: “We’ve got well past the decision of having children – we’re both older myself and Eddie. Eddie’s got two kids from a previous relationship.

“We got Tilly two years ago and call her our fur baby – we treat her like a baby as well.

“We got to the point where we’d go: ‘Does she need a playmate?’ My friend is a breeder, and we got a phone call and video saying: ‘There’s one left.” So French bulldog Remy joined the family this week."

Before lockdown, Denise was performing in her sizzling Cabaret: All Stars London show which is set to reopen when possible.

And while many of her theatre friends have struggled with the mental health effects of not working, she credits exercise with keeping her mind and body in top condition.

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She says: “I’m very lucky that I’ve never suffered with any mental health problems.

“For me exercise makes a huge difference to clear your head, and I enjoy it now which I never used to.

“You feel like you’re doing something positive with your time, even if it’s a 30-minute walk.

“I’m lucky I’m still able to train and work but I have seen the effects of lockdown on other people.

“I’ve got theatre friends that haven’t been working and they’ve really struggled.

“Checking in with people and making sure they’re OK, that’s something I’ve become really conscious of.”

It’s not only her mates at the forefront of Denise’s mind but also her beloved Betsy, from her marriage to actor Lee Mead.

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And the 10-year-old was delighted when Denise landed her latest project, voicing baddie Professor Polonium in Fireman Sam: Norman Price and the Mystery in the Sky, which airs on Cartoonito on December 5.

She says: “Ever since I became a mum my career decisions fit around Betsy.

“When I was asked to do Dancing On Ice, the first thing I thought was: ‘Betsy’s going to love this’.

“It was the same when I did The Masked Singer.

“I knew it would be something all her friends at school would be talking about.

“She thinks it’s so cool that mum is voicing a character in Fireman Sam.

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“I’ve been the voice of TOWIE for 10 years, but I’ve always wanted to voice an animation.

“Creating a new character in something as established as Fireman Sam is such an honour and I feel very privileged.”

The dastardly professor also gave Denise the chance to explore a different side to her personality.

“It’s good to be the villain,” she laughs. “You can be slightly over the top and really play around with your voice. I liked being a little bit evil – it was fun.”

Denise invited her pro skating partner Matt Evers to live with her, Eddie and Betsy so they form a bubble and train for the show.

Luckily they all get on well and she even threw the Minnesota-born pro a surprise Thanksgiving party to help him feel at home at her five-bedroom Chelmsford pad.

She explains: “It won’t work for all the celebrity pairings, but it works for us as I knew Matt from before.

“We’ve got the space to accommodate him and it’s been really nice – he’s so lovely and it’s made everything easier for us.

“We’ve been able to carry on our training at the Dancing on Ice rink at the studio – time has been more limited because of the rules and regulations but we feel very lucky.”

Fireman Sam: Norman Price and the Mystery in the Sky will premiere on Cartoonito, December 5 at 5pm.

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