Denise Welch and GMTV’s Carla Romano reveal what they got up to on their girls’ only road trip through California…

So what was the aim of the trip?

Carla: “It was to be a fabulous week-long Thelma and Louise-style road trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco on Highway One. It’s something I haven’t done since I’ve been here and I’ve always wanted to do it.”

Had you ever done a road trip before?

Denise: “This is not the kind of holiday that me and my family would ever have done. So to have the opportunity to do it with a new pal was incredible. I’ve got a nine-year-old, and a driving holiday to him is not fun, so my holidays are catered around what the little one wants to do.”

Carla: “If I want to take a trip, I do a beach holiday. But I always loved the idea of doing the Thelma and Louise thing – independent women hitting the road. I never have time for it because when I have a holiday, I go back home to see my family and friends.”

You started the trip in Los Angeles. What did you get up to?

Carla: “Jackie Collins is a good mate, so we went to her house and she gave us some Hollywood insider gossip. If there’s anyone who’s queen of Hollywood, it’s Jackie. She knows everything that’s going on.”

Denise: “My friends say I’m a gay man trapped in a woman’s body, so you can imagine my joy at Jackie Collins’s house. I was speechless with excitement. Then we went up in a helicopter over Los Angeles, flying over Tom Cruise’s house, the Beckhams’ place, and Aaron Spelling’s mansion.”

Carla: “We were searching for Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes skinny-dipping!”

Did you spot any celebrities in LA?

Denise: “We didn’t really, but I constantly questioned Carla about the A-listers she’s met. There’s a few I’d like to meet. I love George Clooney and I’m fascinated by Angelina and Brad. It was funny as one day there was a tour of the stars’ homes going on and I got recognised. They asked me for my autograph because they hadn’t seen anyone famous, so they had to make do with me! Who needs Jennifer Aniston?!”

What was your biggest challenge?

Carla: “The driving! I felt a sense of achievement that we drove up those windy roads to Big Sur. Denise didn’t really want to drive in America so she had to be map-reader. But she can’t read the map and neither can I!”

Denise: “Then I got a tummy bug, so we kept having to stop for me to throw up. Luckily, it only lasted a few hours. And we had this fabulous open-top Mustang. But instead of looking like a California girl, Carla was swathed in her gilet, scarf and hat.”

Carla: “We had that blasted roof down because we needed to do the proper California thing. So I was freezing. I’ve got 10,000 blankets on. At one point, we were both wearing dressing gowns in the car and actually went to a restaurant wearing them because we were that cold.”

Did you do the Californian thing and go surfing?

Carla: “I wanted to go surfing but Denise was like: ‘I’m terrified of water, I can’t go surfing.’ So we did paddleboarding which is like junior-type surfing. It’s in still water and you don’t wear wetsuits. So Denise goes first, and she’s gravitating backwards, on all fours. Hilarious. I was convinced I would be fabulous, because Denise was a bit rubbish, in my opinion. So I took to the water, thinking I was going to be Olympic level.”

Denise: “Carla’s paddleboard started drifting out into the sea, and at that point, I was actually starting to wet myself with laughter.”

Carla: “I couldn’t turn round to see the instructor, because I would fall off. I was going out really fast. I panicked, threw away my paddle and the next thing I knew, I was in the water. The instructor wrapped a leash thing round my wrist and literally had to drag me to shore.”

What were your personal highlights of the trip?

Carla: “I was desperate for Alcatraz. The Burt Lancaster film, Birdman of Alcatraz, really had an effect on me. I love prison movies – the idea of being locked up and trying to escape.”

Denise: “We were allowed into Alcatraz without the other tourists at 5.30 am. It was eerie being there on our own. We even got trapped in one of the cells! We did this scene where Ranger John, our guide, locks us in. So we did a sort of Oscar-winning performance of being really scared and I rattled the cage bars. It was a big mistake because it set something off in the mechanism and he couldn’t open the doors. We were literally locked in Alcatraz!”

Carla: “My most exciting thing was Alcatraz. But Denise’s thing was Neverland.”

Denise: “My children, Matthew and Louis, are 21 and nine. From when Matthew was two years old, he’s been Michael Jackson obsessed. He’s now a musician and you can hear the Michael Jackson influence. Louis loved Michael Jackson and was devastated when he died. Neverland is now just a gate. But Michael Jackson lived there – it’s historic. So I burst into tears – it really affected me. I was looking at all the stones outside that people had written on, and I got choked up.”

Carla: “What I loved was, from her crying her eyes out, I turn around and see her moonwalking! It was pretty good, given she was doing it in her cowboy boots.”

How did you get along with each other?

Denise: “We’d apparently been asking all our friends ‘What’s she like?’ ‘Is she a size six?’ I was terrified she’d bought into LA in every way and be like ‘I’ll just have a spinach leaf’ kind of thing.”

Carla: “It turns out I eat three times as much as Denise. She was overjoyed. And she’s got exactly my kind of humour. She’s hilarious. I have never laughed for so long – gut-wrenching laughs with tears.”

Denise: “Carla would boss me a lot, but I didn’t mind that. I quite like somebody taking charge, maybe because in my family, I have to be the organised one.”

Would you go away together again?
Denise: “Yes, it made us want to do a holiday together when we’re not filming. We could have had more pampering. We were thinking we should go to a boot camp because we’ve eaten so much!”

Sum up your trip in three words…
Carla: “An absolute blast!”

Denise: “I have to say ‘emotional’ because Carla said every time she looked at me I looked like I was having a nervous breakdown! Funny, emotional and random.”

*Watch Carla & Denise on GMTV, Monday to Friday, 6am-9.25am*