I was in agony with a fracture and Ashley Banjo's harsh critique really upset me, says Denise van Outen

IT’S been two months since Denise van Outen performed on ITV’s Dancing On Ice in excruciating pain with a broken shoulder after a horror fall – and she STILL hasn’t been able to watch the fateful skate back.

Now the 46-year-old, posing in a cheeky Playboy Bunny outfit for Easter Sunday, reveals she felt “upset” by the judges’ harsh critique of her post-fall outing, especially the comments from Diversity’s Ashley Banjo.

But never one to sit around and feel sorry for herself, Denise has used her time recovering to relaunch her one-woman play.

In an exclusive interview she opens up about her upcoming marriage to partner Eddie Boxshall, also 46, feeling sexier than ever in her forties, and the hurt she felt at Ashley telling her to improve her skating.

Speaking ten weeks after The Sun on Sunday revealed novice skater Denise’s accident on the ice, while training with skating partner Matt Evers, 45, she says: “I did feel deflated and really upset after Ashley said I needed to up my game.

“I thought, ‘How can I up my game with a fractured shoulder?’. I still haven’t been able to watch the routine as it makes me wince.

"I skated off shaking and vomited because I felt in so much pain. I have no idea how I skated after my injury, it was so painful.

“If I watch it, it will take me back to the pain, it was excruciating. I’d had two dislocations, my shoulder had come out twice, I had three fractures.

“I was never going to be a world champion figure skater, and in their defence they didn’t know how injured I was, because I’d skated.

“But actually I was really bad. I think it’s just because I’m a tough cookie. I was worried I would need an operation on it, but I’ve managed to escape that. It would have been a nightmare.

“But I am still limited with the movement and I’ll have physio for another six weeks. My left jazz hand will be working again.

“I wanted to perform as I didn’t know how bad the injury was. I’m not scarred for life mentally, it was one of those freak accidents.

“Ice happens to be very dangerous. The injury I got is the sort you could sustain if you fell down a flight of stairs.”

Yet Denise was grateful for having regular work last year amid the pandemic.

And she was pleased that her 11-year-old daughter Betsy was able to watch her perform, even though she went out in week two of a series cut to eight episodes due to injuries and Covid.

Denise, from Essex, who was married to Betsy’s dad, actor Lee Mead, 39, says: “I 100 per cent signed up for it because it was paid work and everything else was shut down. My daughter loves the show, she wanted me to do it.

“Even though my time was short-lived, I loved the training and spending time with Matt. After I went off the series, I felt lost. I went out so soon and will never know how far I could have gone.”

Fans will have been shocked by Denise’s early exit after she made it to the Strictly Come Dancing final in 2012 with pro James Jordan.

But she explains: “All you have to think about on Strictly is the routine. But in Dancing On Ice you’re thinking about not falling over. It’s very hard. I found it difficult and I was so nervous.”

One person who wasn’t surprised by Denise’s topple was her fella, commodities trader Eddie.

She says: “I’m quite accident prone and Eddie knew I would have a spill from the moment I signed up.

“He said, ‘I’m really not surprised, babe, you drop your cup of tea when you’re sat still on the sofa’. I think he was glad to have me home in one piece.

"We both thought had I stayed in any longer I would have caused another accident and more damage.”

Denise turns 47 next month but admits she feels more confident in her body now than she did 20 years ago.

She says: “I try to embrace my femininity, it’s fun. In another ten years I won’t be doing photoshoots like this, so I’m making the most of it now.

“I feel sexier in my forties than in my twenties and thirties.

“I train three times a week. Lockdown meant I upped my exercise regime by cycling and I was eating better. Looking good has become more of a focus because as I am older, I do like to get dressed up and glam.

“I host a burlesque cabaret show in London. When you are surrounded by all these young, beautiful women, it inspires you to keep yourself looking good.

“I don’t do it because I feel pressure, I do it because it makes me feel better. I’ve been with Eddie seven years and I still want to look nice for him. It’s very easy in lockdown to live in Ugg boots and tracksuits every day.

“I try to keep some level of glam to keep myself feeling and looking good.”

Wedding plans…but no lavish do

DENISE and Eddie have planned a register office wedding soon, after Covid put the mockers on her plans.

She said: “I was going to propose last leap year, but we went into lockdown so it was impossible to do it properly. It didn’t feel right.

“So it’s a joint decision. There is no proposal. We’re doing it the modern way. We’re in our forties, I’ve been married before.

“For a lot of women the dream is the big rock on the finger. I’m the opposite of that. I just want the commitment between two people.

“I don’t need to wear a diamond ring to feel that someone loves me. I said to him we’ll get bands when we marry. It won’t be a massive, lavish wedding.”

Denise has ruled out more kids too, adding: “Two or three years ago we did talk about trying to have children.

“But it never happened and I don’t have any regrets.”

Denise’s beauty tips are simple   — plenty of sleep and exercise.

She says: “Sleeping is always great for wellbeing. And exercise and fresh air, just getting out for a 20 to 30-minute walk every day makes such a difference to your mental health and your skin.

“Friends of mine who’ve known me for years say, ‘Oh you look really good at the moment’, and it’s because I feel happy. Everyone looks better when they’re happy.”

For now, Denise is hoping to make people smile with her one-woman play, Some Girl I Used To Know.

The comedy, which she wrote in 2013 and performed on the West End in 2014, has been re-shot for TV and is available to stream over the Easter weekend for £10, with a percentage of profits going to the Make A Difference Trust, which fights HIV and Aids.

The play, which Denise says has a touch of “Essex humour”, is set entirely in a hotel room as her character reflects on her life and future after an old flame resurfaces.

Former EastEnders actress Tamsin Outhwaite, 50, directs and Denise performs a musical set with the help of Kylie Minogue’s production team.
Denise says: “Tamsin was amazing, she’s a really talented director.

"She brought out of me a performance very different to how I did it on stage. She was brilliant, we had a lot of laughs.

“I’ve got performer mates who are now doing delivery driving and haven’t performed for a year. It’s emotional being in the arts. It has been a difficult year.”

  • Denise Van Outen’s one-woman show Some Girl I Used To Know streams until tomorrow. Tickets cost £10 from somegirl.co.uk with profits benefiting the Make A Difference Trust.

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