Tales of love, life and sisters

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Way before the Spice Girls and Bananarama there was another girl band who flew the flag for sisters doing it for themselves.Now three decades after they embarked on the road to stardom, The Nolans are baring all for their first memoirs. We spoke to Maureen Nolan, about their survivor story and her forthcoming appearance at the Sunderland Empire.

WE are just normal girls who happen to be in showbiz,” says Maureen Nolan about her and her sisters’ fame.

Normal girls they may be, but their pop career was anything but.

The Nolans sold more than 25million records worldwide and became a global phenomenon with their hugely successful single I’m in the Mood For Dancing, which topped the charts around the world.

In Japan they even out-sold The Beatles with nine million record sales.

But behind their showbiz smiles and good girl image, there was more than meets the eye.

Now for the first time Maureen, Linda, Bernie and Coleen, have revealed all for their memoirs – Survivors – Our Story.

Thirty years after their career began – and on the back of a reunion tour – it tells of heartbreak, illness and intense family feuds that blew their world apart.

Maureen explained: “Coleen’s done her own book and so has Anne. After the reunion tour in 2009, our manager was approached by Macmillan who asked if we would like to do an autobiography. Up until that point we hadn’t really considered doing one.

“We didn’t read each other’s chapters when we were writing it which I think is really interesting as each girl has a different perspective on events that happened in our lives.

“We didn’t just want to write about our showbiz lives though, everyone knows about that. We are a dysfunctional family like lots of families and it’s nice for people to read about that.”

In the book Linda opens up about her devastation when her beloved husband died as she was coping with breast cancer; Bernie tells how she suffered through the heartbreak of losing her unborn child and her own recent battle with cancer; Coleen talks about her marriages and divulges new secrets and Maureen describes her sadness at the shocking family feud that saw her much-loved older sisters fall out with her, Linda, Bernie and Coleen.

Maureen says that over the years the siblings have developed an unbreakable bond that has seen them through these tough times.

“I think when you work together 24/7 there is more chance of you getting on each other’s nerves but now we have our separate showbiz lives,” explains Maureen. I don’t get to see Coleen and Bernie very often as Coleen is busy with TV projects and Bernie is touring with Calendar Girls. We have been doing promotion in London together so we all met up for the first time in a while yesterday.

“I think as we’ve got older we have got closer. Three of the girls have had breast cancer now which puts everything in perspective and makes you realise that life’s too precious.”

After the success of The Nolans the sisters went on to forge separate successful careers. Coleen is a television presenter, most notably on Loose Women; Bernie has pursued an acting career with roles in Brookside and The Bill while Maureen and Linda both have a career in musicals.

Next week Maureen will appear on stage at the Sunderland Empire in Naked Truth. Set in a pole dancing class, the comedy follows five women as they struggle to conquer the pole for a charity event.

Starring alongside Maureen is Emmerdale’s Claire King: Julie Buckfield, from Hollyoaks; Michelle Heaton, of Liberty X fame and Leanne Jones, who starred in West End hit Hairspray.

Maureen said: “I’m really enjoying it. The travelling is mental, but the show is really good fun.

“I do a lot of plays like this one and I can’t get enough of them,” explains Maureen, who began her musical theatre career in 2004. “This show is written by a man and I asked him how he knows women so well. He says it was from eavesdropping in on his wife’s conversations.”

l The Naked Truth is at Sunderland Empire from April 11 to 13. Tickets costing £17.50 and £19 are available from 0844 871 3022 or online at SunderlandEmpire.org.uk.

The Nolans Survivors – Our Story is on sale from April 15. Published by Macmillan (RRP £16.99 hardback).