Former Coronation Street stars Denise Welch and Beverley Callard talk about their battles with depressions and how their friendship is helping them enjoy life like never before…

Being in Coronation Street and trying to cope with depression must have been incredibly difficult?
Beverley: “I certainly had a fear that people would think I was unreliable and flakey. That made me hide away a lot more.”
Denise: “What people don’t understand is, in our job there are so many people involved – it’s not like Susie from the temp pool can ring up and go I’m not coming in today so Jenny takes over. If you don’t go in, that affects 200 people.”
Beverley: “And all those people are thinking, ‘Well, I came in!”
Denise: “There’s a pressure on you to go in, not so much from the people at work, but we put it on ourselves.”

You both seem to deal with hard times in the same way – by throwing yourself into your work?
Denise: “I have been working with people recently in Waterloo Road, and love them as I do, I want to slap them half the time because they will go, ‘My false eyelashes are coming off I can’t go into work! We’re of the old school where we go into work regardless, but unfortunately we’ve done it too much and we’ve both worked through a nervous breakdown and that is not a good thing. I won’t do that again, that’s my promise to myself.”
Beverley: “I hope I won’t, but I don’t know, it’s still early days for me.”

As well as covering the bad times, both books are hilarious in parts, and you’ve had some fun times together, haven’t you?
Beverley: “We certainly know how to party! I had moved to Spain and Denise came to see me. We were both well and we said, ‘Right let’s go to the beach with no make-up on, put on baseball caps and no one will know it’s us. We are going to chill completely.’ Four jugs of Sangria later…”
Denise: “Stuck on a pedalo that we didn’t realise had sailed out to sea of it’s own accord! We thought we were dead near the coast and we turned around and people were waving! We were singing songs from the shows, having a ball.”
Beverley: “You know there is a little slide on the a pedalo? I was hanging upside down on the slide and we were singing – ‘There is nothing like a dame!”
Denise: “If you do suffer from depression, when you are well you are so thrilled to feel normal, that you just want to have a good time. We were literally heading towards the equator when people started shouting to turn it around. Also, wasn’t one of your children there trying to pretend he didn’t know us?”
Beverley: “Yes, my son Josh. He said to me, ‘Mum how can you expect me to be normal, when I am surrounded by Z-list celebrities who are all bloody bonkers!'”

Coronatin Street is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. You both filmed the live episode for the 40th, how was that?
Beverley: “It was hysterical.”
Denise: “I was seven months pregnant and it was my last day [Denise left the show in 2000]. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life.”
Beverley: “We were both in the Rovers, Vera Duckworth’s in a coma in the next room, and we’re waiting to do a scene in the Rovers hallway, at the bottom of the stairs. There’s a coat rack that’s still there, and suddenly we heard this creaking and they’d put too many on coats on the rack and it was starting to fall down!”
Denise: “My entrance is coming up but I can’t let go of the coat rack or it will crash to the floor.”
Beverley: “And the floor manager’s going, ‘Sssh, we can hear you, Vera’s in a coma!’ I said to Denise, ‘If your waters break now, we’re doomed!'”


Was your 50th a landmark birthday for you both?
Denise: “Turning 50 was quite something for me. After a couple of minor health scares, I’ve had to go – ‘Denise, for far too long you’ve got away with living – not a debauched lifestyle – but a party lifestyle!’ So I’m trying to just meet it halfway and calm down a little. But I don’t intend to grow old gracefully! I’ll be the woman on the park bench, wearing a tea cosy on my head and lipstick all over my face going to people, ‘I used to be in Coronation Street you know!'”
Beverley: “The numbers haven’t bothered me at all. When I’m well, I always think I don’t care how old I am. I turned 53 a few weeks ago and I completely don’t care. But I do make demands on myself that are ridiculous. Not the way I look – I’m not too bothered about that – but I can’t watch myself on television…”
Denise: “She can’t even look at the pictures from the photo shoot today.”
Beverely: “I know I‘m overdoing it and I‘ve got to stop, but if I do finish work early, I think, ‘Right I will have a siesta and be really sensible,’ but I can’t do it because I go, ‘I could have done that ironing, the hovering, washing…'”
Denise: “This is what we’ve got to stop. We’re doing it to ourselves and we’re not doing our families any favours because the more we push ourselves the more they suffer because we go downhill, either mentally or physically.”
Beverley: “Also, when you’ve been through times like this your friends are so important. You do find out who your friends are, and if they stick by you, you share a special bond.”
Denise: “My motto in life is, ‘It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice’ and I really believe that. I don’t think you have to tread on people to get where you want to be.”
Beverley: “And people can be ruthlessly ambitious in this business.”
Denise: “But the proof is in the pudding for me. Beverley is 53 and I’m 51, we’ve written our books, we’re both working actresses and we haven’t had to tread on people to get where we are. And we’ve still maintained, hopefully, the love of our friends and family.”

So has writing the books helped you both move on and embrace what the future has to offer?
Denise: “There were areas of my life that I hadn’t had to confront before in as such gruesome detail and that has been quite painful. I have only been able to do that with the support of my family and friends.
“But I’m thrilled that Beverley and I can find strength in each other and use this as a platform to talk about mental illness without, hopefully, making people want to jump off a roof! So yes, I’m really excited about what’s to come.”
Beverley: “I’m really glad I’ve written the book. I’ve actually said, ‘I was a teenage mum, I was married three times’ and now everybody knows it and I don’t care!”
Denise: “It doesn’t matter, it really doesn’t matter – we are survivors!”