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Nolan sisters say filming new series has brought them closer despite Covid and two cancer diagnoses


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Nolan sisters

Nolan sisters

Linda and Anne Nolan.

Linda and Anne Nolan.

Pomp: Linda, Anne, Bernie, Coleen and Maureen Nolan in their heyday.

Pomp: Linda, Anne, Bernie, Coleen and Maureen Nolan in their heyday.

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Nolan sisters

During a year when most families were apart the Nolan sisters actually got to spend more time together thanks to filming their own reality TV show.

Coleen Nolan (55) and her sisters, Anne, Denise, Maureen, Linda and their late sister Bernie were part of the girlband The Nolans but they've never been far from our screens entertaining us for more than 40 years.

Most recently they opened up their homes and lives for their no-holds barred At Home With The Nolans show on Quest and have released a new 45-track three CD compilation album, The Nolans: Gold, celebrating their four decades of hits.

As Anne, Denise and Maureen spoke with Sunday Life, they revealed the series was the best excuse for the sisters to be with each other.

Denise (68) said: "We're just thrilled that we got the opportunity to spend time together. And it was great bringing people to Blackpool because it's our home town and we love it. We'd forgotten how much fun we have together really because we don't see each other as we've got our own lives and our families. And as much as we all love the kids, just to spend time with each other and have a laugh was amazing."

Maureen (65) agreed and revealed it allowed them all to reconnect with Loose Women presenter Coleen and brought back memories of their early days on the road. Over the years they've toured the world with legendary artists Frank Sinatra and Englebert Humperdink, performed for Queen Elizabeth II at the Royal Variety Show and even released a duet with Motorhead.

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Linda and Anne Nolan.

Linda and Anne Nolan.

Linda and Anne Nolan.

She explained: "It definitely gave us a chance to reconnect more with Coleen because we don't see much of her as we see each other because we all live very close to each other.

"We're very, very close anyway and when we're not working, we do see each other a lot but as Denise said, without the children and the grandkids, it was really nice. It reminded me of when we were younger and touring."

The Nolans, whose hits include I'm In the Mood for Dancing, Gotta Pull Myself Together, Who's Gonna Rock You and Chemistry, were often referred to as the 'First Family of Music' and sold over 30 million records.

The sisters constantly chatted about the old times when they were back together filming the show and also when they got together for The Nolans Go Cruising television series.

"We did reminisce. We have never laughed so much especially when Shane, Coleen's son, was with us too. And he's so funny and I just laughed and it's lovely to laugh," added Maureen.

But it isn't all laughs with the family. After tragically losing their sister Bernie to breast cancer in July 2013, both sisters Linda (61) and Anne (69) are facing their own battles with cancer.

After both being diagnosed in May 2020, they underwent their treatment during lockdown. Linda has liver cancer, her third recurrence of the disease - she was diagnosed with secondary terminal breast cancer in 2017. Anne has breast cancer for a second time.

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Pomp: Linda, Anne, Bernie, Coleen and Maureen Nolan in their heyday.

Pomp: Linda, Anne, Bernie, Coleen and Maureen Nolan in their heyday.

Pomp: Linda, Anne, Bernie, Coleen and Maureen Nolan in their heyday.

Speaking about her diagnosis, Linda told me: "I'm good actually. I mean, I know that my cancer is treatable but not curable so I know it will be a continuation of treatment but I feel good. My hair is just about starting to grow back. I was traumatised when it came off but it's like bum fluff now."

The hardest thing for the siblings was not being able to give Linda or Anne a comforting hug due to the Covid-19 pandemic as they went through the treatment but the Nolans rallied to make sure they were supported as best they could be.

Maureen explained: "Well obviously it's been a horrendous time for everybody but with the cancer as well it was awful. It made it twice as bad because of Covid, because normally as the family we are all together. Linda's husband used to call us an army, whenever anybody was in trouble we'd all close ranks and support them, even in good times.

"We couldn't really do any of that and Linda and Anne separately spent time in hospital. Anne was 11 days and Linda was eight or something. And we couldn't visit so that's really very strange for us." Denise recalled how she had a tearful encounter on Anne's doorstep when they were unable to hug each other.

She recalled: "I remember popping down to Anne's and standing at the doorstep.

"And she starts crying 'I just want to hug my girls'. She couldn't even hug her daughters and she was distraught about that more than the cancer. I think they both handled the cancer amazingly. But they were missing the family. Straightaway, Maureen went, 'Ok I'll move in with Anne', who lives with our 86-year-old aunt who has skin cancer."

Maureen moved in and then Linda moved in with Denise and her partner Tom as they went through their treatment. Praising hospital staff who helped her during chemotherapy, Linda added: "We were lucky in that respect, but it was very different because of Covid. And it's scary because, Anne and I, our immune systems have been depleted, because of chemo so we do have to be wary with who we're mixing with.

"And I think some people are frightened to go to hospital for treatments and stuff but really we had all our treatment during the first lockdown, and the hospital was the safest place to be.

"They were so vigilant about everything. So I'm doing okay but Anne got great news and then she's just finishing off for treatment, which will take another year."

The sisters have not shied away from discussing their fight against cancer in interviews as well as on their show because they want to help other people going through similar that don't have the same family support.

"People say, 'You are so open about it'," Linda said. "But it's because we have got a fabulous family. I can't bear the thought of somebody at home on their own and trying to get through it, though. You know, I was traumatised when I lost my hair. Absolutely. But I had somebody at home going, 'It's ok, this is a massive thing for a woman'."

The family all united in their support of their ex-brother-in-law Shane Richie as he competed on I'm A Celebrity at the end of the last year. Shane, who was married to Coleen with whom he has two children, Jake and Shane Junior, came third on the ITV show.

Maureen admitted: "We all watched it every night. I voted for him every night because he's got a weak stomach but he did great. We were very proud of him."

Denise added: "He came across as very nice. The whole group were good and it was really enjoyable to watch."

And if the call ever came could we see a Nolan sister going Down Under or back to the castle in Wales?

Linda wishes she had done it before but both she and Maureen are rooting for Coleen (below) to follow in the footsteps of her ex-husband.

She revealed: "I wish I had done it but I don't think I could now. I'm desperate for Coleen to do it. I think she's like us though with insects and everything she hates them. But she'd have a go.

Added Maureen: "I hate to be mercenary but I probably couldn't turn the money down for one thing, But I'm literally scared of everything. I'm really claustrophobic. The older I get the worse it gets but I wouldn't be a wimpy girl hopefully. I think Coleen would do well if she did it but she would have Shane Junior voting for her to do every trial."

n The Nolans: Gold is on sale now

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