Denise Van Outen on joining celeb dating app at 50 - ‘I’m the sexiest I’ve ever felt'

Looking sensual and seductive, Essex-born actress, singer and dancer Denise Van Outen strikes a raunchy and assured pose in a stunning new photoshoot to mark her milestone 50th birthday.

In an interview with journalist Rob McGibbon for his website, Denise, who has a 14-year-old daughter, Betsy, with ex-husband Lee Mead, reveals how she is striding into her fifties feeling “blessed” that so many aspects of her life are in the best shape ever. Here, the former Big Breakfast presenter opens up about having therapy, dating, reuniting with Johnny Vaughan and fulfilling a daring lifetime ambition…

Hi Denise, how are you feeling about your big birthday?

I feel great and I’m really happy about turning 50. With age comes wisdom, and I’ve learned a lot of things about caring for myself better. If I think back to how I was at 40, I can see that I definitely make much more of an effort to look after myself now. I’ve always kept myself physically fit because you have to be healthy in a career like mine. But these days I have a better balance and variety. I train in the gym and I play sport, like golf. I really look after myself and I only drink sporadically.

I was a party girl in the 90s, but not too much because I was always working. I monitor my drinking and I’m more moderate now. If I go and party, I do it more during the day because I like a good night’s sleep. But the big difference these days is that I also look after my mental health. I never really did things like this in the past, but as you get older, you realise it’s so important to look after your mind as well as your body. I used to think therapy was a very sort of “American” thing, but I’ve since discovered that quite a lot of people do it – and I think it’s great.

What have you been talking about in therapy?

It depends what’s going on and how much stress I have in my life. It’s great just having that time to sit down and discuss how you’re feeling. I have really close friends I can speak to, but we all have really busy lives, so it’s nice to speak to someone who is totally impartial. It’s where you can talk about certain situations that are affecting you, or if things are getting too much. It’s helped me learn a lot about myself. I think the work I have done on myself has helped shape the person that I am at 50. And that is a totally positive thing.

Has it been hard living your life in the public eye?

I’ve been working in this industry since I was seven and I’ve been in the public eye since I did The Big Breakfast when I was 23, and there’s been a price to pay for all that. You sometimes feel like you live in a bit of a bubble and it makes you a bit closed off. Over the years I’ve felt like I can’t open up about how I’m feeling, but now it’s different. I can talk now and get my head around what is happening to me. Back in the 90s, anything I said or did would end up in a newspaper, so I became quite guarded and had trust issues. I decided that it was really important for me to start to address some of the situations I’d found myself in and change how I was affected by them.

Denise Van Outen sitting on stairs with pink walls behind the scenes at Maggies in Fulham as shoots the video for her new self written single Discoliscious out 13 June 2024
Denise says she's never felt sexier than she does now

You’re single now – how do you feel about your love life at the moment?

I’ve been single now for seven months and I’m really loving it! I think I never really ever allowed myself the breathing space between relationships to just enjoy the freedom of being single. My parents have been married for 55 years and they’ve always been the benchmark for me when it comes to relationships. I hoped my love life would be like that, but obviously things have turned out differently. I’m OK with that. We live in a different age.

What have you learnt over the years about relationships?

I’ve always put everything into a relationship. I make the person I’m with the main focus – but I forget about me. I’ve had some relationships where I haven’t been able to fully be myself. A lot of women will relate to that. But I feel differently about it all now. I’m older and wiser, and because I’ve had my fingers burnt a few times, I now know what I don’t want.

Denise and her daughter, Betsy, who she shares with ex-husband Lee Mead
The star has toned down the partying - and says she isn't the same woman she was in the 90s

Maybe your fifties is going to be your best dating decade yet?

Turning 50 feels like a very exciting new chapter in my life. I actually feel the sexiest I’ve ever felt. I think with age, you don’t worry so much about what people think, you’re more assured of who you are. And you know what you want. It feels liberating to be single as a 50-year-old woman – totally liberating. I’m allowing myself to just go on dates and enjoy them for what they are. There was a time when I felt like I couldn’t really do that. I don’t feel pressured to rush into anything. When the time’s right, then I’ll be ready to meet Mr Right. Until that happens, I’m just going to sit back and go with the flow. I’m not going to force anything. I feel like I can make the right choices now. This is the new me – single and ready for fun.

Are you on any dating apps?

I’ve always thought that a dating app would never be for me, but I joined Raya a few months ago. I’m on there as myself and it’s been fun. I’ve been going on dinner dates lately and I’ve met some really lovely guys. Some haven’t felt like a romantic connection, but I’ve made some friends, so I’m enjoying it.

Denise Van Outen with ex-boyfriend Jimmy Barba duringa  romantic getaway
Denise says she's happy being single for now

Do you plan to slow down work-wise any time soon?

I used to feel guilty if I took my foot off the pedal, but I’ve got to the stage now where I’ve finally learnt to step back a little bit and make the right choices with work. I’m not just doing everything that comes my way. I love my job, but it can be stressful at times and it can be overwhelming. I’m a single mum to a teenager, so I’m constantly having to juggle things. Part of being 50 and this new decade is making sure that I take time out and do all the right things that give me a fulfilled life. A lot of that means spending quality time with family. My parents are getting older, so I’m really prioritising seeing family members.

Do you have a must-do list for your fifties?

I’m very lucky that I get to do amazing things with my job, but sometimes just going for a nice walk every day and being with family is far more valuable. I also want to travel more and do fun things with my daughter. We’re basically best friends and she’s at an age now where we can do more together. We’ve gone through the hard part, so now is the time for more fun. You realise as you get older that you should just embrace your age because you’re lucky to still be able to enjoy life. I lost one of my very close friends when she was only 52 to a brain tumour. When something like that happens you realise it’s a possibility for all of us, so you should grab life. I’m seizing the day and I’m seizing new opportunities.

You’ve got a busy summer with DJing, the 10-year anniversary shows for your play Some Girl I Used to Know, and your new album release. How do you juggle it all?

I seem to have spent my life spinning plates! Now I’ve decided to have a year of doing all the things I love – like the play and the music. Work will always be a top priority because it brings me so much joy, and right now I’m back to really loving my career. We understand you’re also reuniting with Johnny Vaughan… Yes, but I can’t say at the moment what we’re doing! I’m sworn to secrecy, but we’ve got something really exciting for television that we’re announcing soon.

Is there anything you want to achieve for yourself this year?

I won’t be able to complete it in the next year, but I’m going to start planning to climb to Base Camp on Everest. That has been on my bucket list for ages. I love trekking and leaving the commercial world behind to get back to nature. No phone, no glamour, just a rucksack. I’ve trekked in the Himalayas twice. I did Mount Kilimanjaro for Comic Relief and I’ve trekked the Great Wall of China and Peru. I love the physical challenge of these things, so there will be a lot more of that stuff in my fifties.

You sound like you’ve got it all figured out, well done!

I feel really fortunate to have reached a place of real happiness at this stage of my life. I’ve got amazing friends. I’ve got a really good group of people around me and I have a lot of fun. Life is all about having the right mix of work, family and friends, so I feel totally blessed. The cherry on the cake will be when I meet a really good man. It’ll be nice when someone comes and sweeps me off my feet, but we’ll see. I’ve learned that you can’t force anything in life and everything’s about timing. I know it’s a cliche, but if something is meant to be, it’ll happen. I’m not in any rush, I’ve got a lot of fun to have before then – and that fun starts now!