Interview with Denise van Outen

Category: Press Pack Article

You’re joining the Circle!

I’m so excited! I can't wait. It's going to be so much fun. I'm looking forward to it. I like the show anyway. I caught Richard Madeley on it the last time I was watching, and I thought it was really fun, so yeah, just can't wait to get started.


What is it about the theme of the show that attracted to you to it?

Well, I like the idea of trying to figure out if people were being genuine by throwing questions at people and trying to suss them out. Also, I feel like you can have a bit of fun with it as well. I was debating whether I should be myself or whether I should be a man or try and play another character, but I've decided I am going to be myself. I think, actually, there will be people in there who probably will think I'm catfishing them. So it's like a double bluff. If I'm really honest, I'm just looking forward to having a nice week on my own, chilling out. Obviously having a bit of fun online, but it'll be quite nice after spending months stuck in my house to get to go somewhere different. It's going to be like a holiday for me!


Is there anything about the show that worries you at all?

I suppose because I am being myself, it'd be awful to think that I might upset someone. That's what I would hate the most, I wouldn't want to upset people.


Are you going in with a game plan at all?

Not to begin with, really. I'm just going to be myself, have a bit of fun, just try to suss them out, the others, see if I can work out if I know any of them because that's the thing, if I see names of people that I've maybe worked with, spent time with, I will have questions that I can ask them just to try and suss out if they're genuine. That's part of the fun, but no major game plan. I think as it goes on. Because I always say I'm not competitive, but when I did Strictly years ago, I wasn't at the beginning. I was like, "This is fun," and then you get towards the end and you're like, "No, now I want to stay here!”


Do you think the game will be harder for those playing a character?

Well, it's definitely more pressure for them doing that, but that's their choice to do it. I had the choice and I thought about it and thought, "No, I'm going to play myself." Well, be myself. The plan is to just be Miss Marple and work out who everyone else is!


If you were going to catfish as somebody else, did you have somebody in mind?

Yeah, I was thinking I could keep it quite Essex-y still, so I was thinking maybe Gemma Collins or Joey Essex would be quite funny. I was thinking with Joey because you can do the whole reem thing, and then I thought of maybe being Danny Dyer because that could be quite fun. But then I thought if I'm Danny I'd have to do a lot of swearing, and I don't really want to be swearing all the time.


It’s a popularity contest, so will you suck up to the others to be the most liked or maybe flirt with the guys?

I might have a bit of flirty banter, but obviously, being an Essex girl, I've got the lyrics. I might just have a bit of fun that way, but all innocent. I might say to viewers before I go, if I'm flirty just ignore it. It's all part of the game!


Are you up for a bit of manipulation and game-playing?

It is a game at the end of the day, so yeah, definitely. Until you're in the situation, I just don't know what I'm dealing with, but once I get in there then let the games begin!


How are you feeling about being in the flat on your own for so long?

Well, it's kind of like lockdown, isn't it? I'm looking forward to it, obviously I'm going to miss my daughter, but I'm very lucky because her dad looks after her when I'm working. He's having her, so she's fine. It's going to be hard not speaking to her because obviously my phone gets taken off me, but I have recorded loads of different messages, and I'll give him days that he can play them to her so she gets a little message of positivity every day from mum. I'm sure Eddie's looking forward to the break more than me, having the house to himself. But I can't wait. I'm going to take a few books and just spend a little bit of time sorting out some paperwork that I've ignored at home that needs doing, paint my nails, all the things I don't get to do at home because I'm either tidying up or stripping beds or cooking dinners or doing home schooling. It's going to be quite a nice week of just me time!


You're being filmed 24/7, does it worry you that you might forget the cameras are there?

You do, and I think that's the whole point of it is to not act like you're being filmed, but I think because we do Gogglebox in our own home, even though I know it's like watching TV, it's a bit different. You're not moving around the house, but it's the same thing, really. You have to forget that they're there. And also it's quite fun having them there as well, because you don't feel like you're on your own, if you know what I mean. I'm not worried about that.


Do you think that this will show a different side to you that we haven't seen on other shows?

The thing is on this show, I would like to say you're just being yourself, but obviously when you're not online, you are. It's always interesting seeing what people are like when they're indoors, in their own environment, in their little sanctuary. I think it's fascinating. I don't know. I'm not doing it to prove anything, I just think it's really fun, and I love the fact that it's for Stand Up To Cancer, which is a good cause. I think this year more than any other year with everything that's been going on, we really need to get behind charities for other illnesses as well because a lot of them have really suffered from lack of fundraising that they would normally get. So to be honest, that's the main reason why I jumped at the chance of doing it. One of Eddie's best friends had his treatment stopped throughout the lockdown. I lost one of my really good friends three years ago. So it's fun, but also we're doing a good thing as well.



What do you think of social media?

I think it can bring good into your life, but I also feel like it can be damaging. I do also think it's a way of getting to know people. I think people are more open, you would learn more about people when you're typing on a keyboard, funny enough, because you chat a lot more about things I guess, and you can ask questions that you would feel you couldn't ask face to face.


When it comes to trolls, do you put in boundaries in the sense if you see anything bad you block people straight away?

Oh yeah, I'll block straight away. Even if it's something that I think is slightly rude or disrespectful, then I just delete and block. I don't answer back, they're gone. What's the point? I don't even want that negativity on my page, so I'm just like, "Go."


Do you have an opinion on how we can make social media a nicer place?

I actually got involved with Bobby Norris when he started his Trend To Troll campaign, and I think exactly what he's saying, because unfortunately with Twitter you can set up fake accounts. I think it needs to be monitored and managed better, so I'm still 100% behind what he's trying to do. I don't know if you've seen the death threats and all sorts of things he's had, and homophobic awful messages and trolling, he's trying to go to parliament to make sure that people have checks and everything. In the same way really on Instagram as well, because people on Twitter can just have a fake email address, fake address, and then just troll people. It's not right really, it shouldn't be happening.


Do you have any pet peeves of things that people do on social media that you're just like, "Oh, that's annoying"?

I cannot bear it when people put up stuff about when they're in hospital. It's different if someone's got real reason because they're trying to fundraise or something, but when celebrities always post pictures if they've broken a fingernail or dislocated something, and it's just like they want the poor me sympathy. And I hate quotes, like inspirational quotes. Eddie went through a phase of doing it and I was like, "Just quit, please." He doesn't do it anymore!


Are you going to be doing more Gogglebox this year?

I hope so. They said the series was a real success for the channel and we loved doing it. Eddie got nominated for a BAFTA, which is great, so hopefully we'll be asked back! We don't know. It'd be nice though, we love doing it. I just love sitting with Eddie and doing what we always do anyway.



Duncan James

Are you excited to be joining The Circle?

Yeah, it's nice to actually get out the house and do some work, just something to escape from the lockdown. I've been with my mum the whole time. I've loved it but you do start to go a little bit crazy at times, don't you? And it's just nice to have a little bit of an opportunity to do something different.


What is it about the premise of the show that excites you?

Well, I think it's really nice to do something for Stand Up to Cancer. Last year, I took part in First Dates Hotel in Italy for Stand Up to Cancer. So it was just nice to be able to come back again this year and do another show for the charity. Apart from that, it's a fun show to do. I think it's great that you get to be on your own for that amount of time and just play a game with other contestants that you don't know who's who and you can just pretend to be anybody or a heightened version of yourself. It's like a fun game, isn't it?


You’re playing the game as yourself, but who would you play if you were going to catfish as someone?

Well, I thought I'd go in as Lee Ryan because I know him so well. That would've been funny. I thought if I was going to go in as anybody, I'd go in as Lee because literally I know him so well. I've known him for 20 years, and he's like the cheeky, straighter version of me.


Have you got a game plan?

I want to go in with a bit of a blank canvas. I want people to think that potentially I might not be who I am because then I think you can play that to your advantage. But I also want to go and be me. I'm a nice person. I'm not a bitch or an arsehole. I want to listen to people, ask lots of questions, find out a little bit about people because I'm really intrigued by people. I am a people's person. So I'm interested to get to know these virtual players and try to figure out who's real and who's not and try to make people like me. So it's a fun game. I'm really excited about that.


It's quite psychological, isn't it?

It's what I love. I love a good old psychological game. So, yeah, it's fun. Because it is all about the mind, it is playing with other people's minds and mind games, which it's quite fun, you know?


What will you do if you’re in there with someone you know?

I think it's when you get have your private chats together and you get a moment to be together, you can really suss out who’s who. I think you will instantly know by asking certain questions if people are who they say they are, especially if they are people I know because only we know conversations that we've had. So you’ll know if they ruin it, if they don't respond to something, either they're playing you or they don't want you to know it's really them, but if it's somebody that you really know, I don't think they would play you. I think they'd want you to know because you'd want to build an alliance with each other so you rate each other high. So there are lots of games. Also, if somebody is catfishing me and I know they're catfishing me, then I can use that to my advantage as well and have that as a secret trump card in my back pocket.


If you know for sure someone is a catfish will you try and use that to manipulate the others and be a bit of a puppet master, maybe cause a bit of mischief?

Yeah, I definitely will. I would play the gullible sheep and be like, "Oh my God, I can't believe you're in here." Even if I figured out it wasn't really them, I would just probably go along with it and try to build up a fake alliance thinking that it's really my friend when I know it's not really them. The possibilities are endless with this. It's just so much fun.


Part of the game is being the most popular, is popularity something that is important to you in real life?

I think no one wants to be unpopular, do you? You don't want to be the person that everybody boos and is like, "Oh God, it's him, boo, we hate him." You know? I think it's always nice to be popular. I was always popular at school and during Blue, I wasn't an unpopular character in the band, so that was nice. I would hate it if you're a hated celebrity where people just didn't like you. Like Katie Hopkins. She's a very unpopular person, isn't she? She probably gets so much shit in her everyday life, but that must be quite horrible and it must be quite hard to have to deal with that. So I'm glad that I'm on the other side of the scale where people are nice to me when they come up to the streets and talk to me. They're not calling me a dickhead!


How are you feeling about living on your own during the game?

I'm quite looking forward to having my own space because I've been in lockdown with my mum, and it's just nice to get out of the house and have a little bit of me time.


You’re being filmed 24/7. Do you think you'll forget that the cameras are there and that viewers might see some of your bad habits that you wouldn't normally show the public?

I'm really messy and untidy. I'm not great at cleaning up after myself. I'm not good at tidying my bed or picking my clothes up from the floor. Or if I've cooked, the stuff is going to be everywhere, and then I'm just like, “Oh, I can't be arsed to clean it up now. I'm tired." You know when you eat, the last thing you want to do is finish your meal and then start washing up, isn't it? You just want to sit there and chill. So, yeah, everyone's going to see how disgusting I am with my untidiness because I'm always getting told off by my mum!


The theme of this show is social media, what do you make of it?

I'm not great at social media. I'm not from that generation. My daughter, who's 15, she knows a lot more about social media than me. But having said that, I want to learn more about it. And hopefully there's some players in there that can help me a little bit and figure things out with the whole social media thing to give me some tips, that would be quite cool.


Are you on any platforms?

Yeah. I used to use Twitter back in the day quite a lot, but I don't really go on Twitter anymore. I find it quite toxic and quite a negative place. So I don't really go on there unless I'm posting something that I have to post or there's something that I need to put out there that I'm told to do. I go on Instagram a lot because I think it's just pictures and it's quite nice, and little stories of you doing stuff is quite nice, it's quite unoffensive. I'm not on TikTok. I don't use Snapchat. I don't even really use Facebook anymore. So I'm only really on Instagram to communicate and to do stuff, but I'm not one of these people that's like, "Right, it's 6pm I've got to post this today, and I'm going to set this post" ... I'm not like that, and I don't know all the hashtags that you’ve got to use and all of that stuff. I'm really not tech-savvy at all!


Do you feel liberated as there are a lot of people addicted to social media?

Yeah. I was in Bali doing a job. I had a day off and I was sat by the pool and it was a beautiful day, and I just saw this couple. They must've spent about two hours trying to take the perfect selfie, they were just trying to pose by the water. Literally, they were looking at the picture going, "No, no, no," and it went on for about two hours. I was thinking, "You've just missed this whole beautiful day because all you've been trying to do is create a picture for you to post that's actually really fake, it's really set up, you're probably going to completely airbrush it and make everyone go, 'Oh, you look amazing.'" And they go, "Oh, thank you," and that's all they want in their life. They want that fake gratification of, "Oh my God, you look so good." And it's taken them a whole day to take that picture. I just looked at them and I thought, "God, it's so sad what the world's coming to," that people are so obsessed with taking that perfect picture for social media, which isn't real.


This show is a wake up call to viewers that people can be a catfish on social media…

Yeah. I mean, there are lots of catfishes out there, you can never really trust anybody. We watch television programmes of awful situations where people have been completely taken advantage of to the point where they've been giving money to somebody to help them or they've been dating somebody that's not really who they say they are. You hear of all these stories of people who have lost everything, it's awful. I've been stung before. I got an email from a fake HMRC telling me about a tax rebate that I had to give my details. I didn’t think and just handed it over. And then my accountant was like, "HMRC will never ask for your account details. They have them. You don't need to do that." And I was like, "Shit, what have I done?" and then I looked in my account and they had cleared me out. They took about five grand. Thankfully, the bank knew. I had to send in the emails that I had, and I got my money back.


Have you ever been catfished in dating?

No, I haven't actually been catfished in dating that I'm aware of. I've never met somebody that isn't who I thought they were.


Has anyone pretended to be you on dating apps or anything else?

Yeah, somebody sent me a picture in Turkey, they had been using my image to promote their barber shop. It was a picture of me from back in the day with my haircut, and it's like, "So-and-so barber's this way." And I was like, "Oh my God, that's my image, and I'm advertising a barber shop in Turkey that I didn't even know." I know that's slightly different to being catfished, but people do use your images and can use your pictures for whatever they want, really, whether it's a dating site or a Turkish barber shop. So it does happen!


This show is for Stand Up To Cancer, is it something close to you?

Thankfully, touch wood, I've never had cancer or a scare. Neither has my immediate family. But I know lots of people around me who have had it. One of my really good friends, she lost her sister to breast cancer that unfortunately got into her lymph nodes and then went into her brain, and from diagnosis to death, it was something like three months, it just savaged her. I remember walking in and finding out when she just got diagnosed, and three months later she was gone. It’s everywhere, for example, the Nolan sisters. I was in Chicago with Bernie. I was on tour with her. I was playing Billy Flynn, she was Mama Morton. And the next minute she's not there. It's just so scary and, unfortunately, with lockdown, people haven't been able to go in and have their treatments or their check-ups. I've heard so many stories.


So you’re proactive about checking yourself?

Yeah, I think you have to be. I went for a check-up recently, they have a good look and then they tell you if your prostate is enlarged or if you've got any signs of early cancers. I was so glad I had it. It was a horrible thing to have to go through, but the peace of mind for them to say, "No, everything looks fine. Check up again in another five years." And you just think, "Okay, well, at least I didn't have to worry right now for stuff like that." I think it's really important for men and women to always check yourself, and if you've got any kind of concerns, just go to a doctor and just ask for a test, it could save your life.


2020 was crazy, what's coming up for you work-wise?

Yeah. It's been a really horrible year for the artist industry because of course we can't do a lot of live gigs indoors. I do a lot of musical theatre so I was touring last year with a musical called The Rocky Horror show, which obviously got cancelled. Every year at Christmas, I do panto, which I've been doing for the last six years and I've loved it. None of that happened. So, at the moment, work-wise, there's not a lot of stuff going on. It's quite quiet out there. So when I got asked to do this as well, it was just like, "Oh my God, I'm grateful that I'm actually going to be doing something." Even though I'm giving my fee to charity, I didn't care about that. I'm happy I'm giving my fee away. But it's just nice to be able to work. It's nice to be able to do something again.