Saying goodbye to heartache; Lesley Dunlop reveals why the past few years of struggle and grief have left her full of optimism.
Lesser women would have crumbled under the weight of such a succession of emotional blows, but Where The Heart Is star Lesley Dunlop Lesley Dunlop (born 10 March 1956 in Newcastle) is a British actress.
Daughter of the television writer Pat Dunlop she began as a child actress in the seventies featuring in a BBC version of the classic A Little Princess is made of sterner stuff. She even believes that overcoming her private turmoil has made her a stronger person.
Lesley is currently single again, has no house to call her own, and is coming to terms with daughters Daisy, 21, and Rosie, 16, leaving home. She has suffered a series of stress-related illnesses and is still recovering from the loss of her beloved mum. Yet, bizarrely, the 43-year-old believes this is one of the best times in her life.
"It's true, for the first time in God knows how many years, I feel more confident and happier than I can remember," she says with a broad smile. "I've nowhere to live that I can call my own and I have no partner or man in my life, but I feel that the world really is my oyster."
Lesley, who plays newcomer Anna Kirkwall in the hit district nurse drama, was determined to meet her troubles head on and find something positive from all the negative events that she had been through.
"It just seemed that all the stories I ever read about myself were so downbeat down·beat
a. The downward stroke made by a conductor to indicate the first beat of a measure.
b. The first beat of a measure.
2. Informal A period of stagnation or inactivity. ," she says. "There never seemed to be any good news about my life. So I decided to change my outlook.
"Last year I sold our house in Chiswick, West London West London is the area of Greater London to the west of Central London. Although it is only ambiguously defined, it is one of the most economically active areas of London outside of the centre, containing significant amounts of office space along with Heathrow Airport and many of , and took the girls on holiday to Cuba and Cornwall. I don't think they knew what had hit them. They kept asking me why, but I'd decided that we were simply going to be good friends having a holiday, all girls together. It turned out to be fabulous and I began to believe in myself. Then along came this role in Where The Heart Is which proved a great cushion for me. I had something to look forward to.
"So although I had no house of my own - I was renting a place in the North near to filming - and I was on my own, I actually felt happy and contented with myself. I began to discover my own strength and realise that I could do anything I wanted, when I wanted. Both the girls had left home. I felt so free. It's like a new book has been opened for me. For the first time in ages, I can stand on my own two feet and look to the future with confidence.
"It's a strange feeling knowing that I can please myself about what I do... Although it often simply means that I sit in with a few glasses of wine and watch the telly and read a book," she adds with a grin. "But at least the freedom is there for me.
"Of course, I want to buy a new home in London - one big enough for the girls to stay - but I'm not looking for Looking for
In the context of general equities, this describing a buy interest in which a dealer is asked to offer stock, often involving a capital commitment. Antithesis of in touch with. another relationship. Although if it comes, then so much the better. I'm not off men, I'm just contented with myself for the first time in ages. I think a lot of my mum's strength and courage has rubbed off on me."
Lesley's mother Marion, a former legal secretary, died two years ago aged 68, following a brave two-year fight against leukaemia.
"Mum was so courageous in her struggle that I've learned so many things from her," says Lesley. "She showed so much dignity even though she was dying. Mum wanted the last months of her life to be as normal as possible. She decided not to have any chemotherapy - she'd seen what it had done to other people who had also died. But even though she was in great pain, she showed such spirit.
"She battled against the leukaemia since being diagnosed in 1996, and throughout that time she dealt with it so much better than I did. I was a wreck. I was with her when she died... It was the first time I'd seen anyone die, but she handled that so bravely too. It made it seem easier somehow.
"At the time I was distraught, but after her death I realised just how much strength she'd had. I feel able to cope with life a lot more because of what she taught me. Of course, I still miss her so much. "
At the same time as grieving grieving Mourning, see there for her mum, Lesley has had to cope with a turbulent love life. Last year she split from TV cameraman Jeremy Hiles, a 39-year-old married father of two, who she turned to after the break-up of her four-year relationship to comedy actor Paul Bown.
Lesley's health has suffered too, and she has had kidney infections kidney infection Pyelonephritis, see there , shingles shingles: see herpes zoster.
or herpes zoster
Acute viral skin and nerve infection. Groups of small blisters appear along certain nerve segments, most often on the back, sometimes after a dull ache at the site; pain becomes , anaemia anaemia
see anemia. and bronchitis bronchitis (brŏnkī`tĭs), inflammation of the mucous membrane of the bronchial tubes. It can be caused by viral or bacterial infections or by allergic reactions to irritants such as tobacco smoke. , all brought on by stress. Throughout everything, she has worked hard to maintain her career while also raising her daughters by her previous long-term love, actor Christopher Guard Christopher Guard (born 5 December 1953 in London, England) is an actor.
His best remembered roles are on television - as Marcellus in the BBC adaptation of I, Claudius, as Ferdinand in the BBC Shakespeare production of The Tempest .
Ironically, her lead role in Where The Heart Is, following the departure of Sarah Lancashire Sarah Lancashire (born October 4, 1964) is an English actress. Early life
She was born in the town of Oldham, in Lancashire, England and graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 1986. , is as a single mum, struggling to build a new life for herself and her young son following the tragic death of her husband. It's a prime part for the actress who shot to fame in the 1970s medical series Angels and has starred in TV dramas, the sitcom May To December May to December was a BBC sitcom broadcast 1989-1994 on BBC1 and produced by Cinema Verity. It was set in Pinner and revolved around a solicitor Alec Callender, and his younger girlfriend Zoe Angel. , and TV ads for Kleenex tissues. And it's a great opportunity for Lesley, who felt she had become typecast in rather dowdy dow·dy
adj. dow·di·er, dow·di·est
1. Lacking stylishness or neatness; shabby: a dowdy gray outfit.
2. Old-fashioned; antiquated.
n. pl. , downtrodden down·trod·den
oppressed and lacking the will to resist
Adj. 1. roles.
"A few years ago I lost two stones by dieting and working out, just so that I could hopefully get some different TV work instead of always playing homely-type housewives," she says. "I lost the weight but it was incredibly hard work and I realised that it wasn't worth the pain of what I was putting myself through.
"I do seem to have cornered the market in playing mumsy-type roles. Maybe it's the way I look, but at the end of the day I am a real mum, so I might be playing to role. Now I plan to lose weight, but this time I will do it in my own time rather than for other people or work."
This determination is all part of Lesley's renewed optimism for the future which has been given a tremendous boost by Where The Heart Is.
"All these years after playing a nurse in Angels, it's like coming full circle to play one in this series," she smiles. "I feel that I've been given a new beginning and I'm going to enjoy every moment."
Where The Heart Is, Sunday, ITV (1) See interactive TV.
(2) (iTV) The code name for Apple's video media hub (see Apple TV). , 8pm.