Soap star Denise Welch admits marriage of 23 years is over on live TV
DENISE Welch fought back tears as she revealed on live TV that she has separated from husband Tim Healy.
The actress, who recently won Celebrity Big Brother, confessed they split "some time ago".
She used an appearance on chat show Loose Women, which she co-hosts, to reveal the end of their marriage.
The couple, who have two children, have been married for more than 23 years.
Welch, 53, shocked many TV viewers with her antics on Channel Five's Celebrity Big Brother when she appeared topless after boozing, and tried to pull another contestant's pyjama bottoms down.
Welch spoke out after she was pictured with another man at the weekend.
Struggling to control her tears at times, she told viewers of the ITV1 show: "My family made a decision that we would talk about this today.
"Tim and I separated some time ago and so I'm not having an affair; we've been living our own lives for some time now.
"But the press furore after I came out of Celebrity Big Brother naively took us by storm.
"There's been nothing in the papers that my family didn't know about. And I just wanted to say today to thank everybody for their support."
Welch continued: "Tim and I feel a sense of relief that we don't have to hide this anymore.
"We've actually become better friends since we made the decision but we wanted to have Christmas with the family without telling anybody.
"I left the house last night to come to London with great hugs from Tim, great hugs from the boys," she said.
"Tim and I are still going to be good parents, we love each other very much and we just don't want to lie anymore.
"The kids love us very much and they wanted me to do this today because if you do it via a newspaper or magazine they can use the wrong headlines and put it into the words that they want. They're sick of me being annihilated for something.
"I'm not having an affair. I'm officially separated, but we did love each other very much."
Her Loose Women co-star Sherrie Hewson praised her for baring her soul.
"Everybody loves you. We all love you. You are very brave, and very honest," she said.
Former Coronation Street star Welch added: "I'm going to nick a Dawn French quote when she said she had far more years in a happy marriage than an unhappy marriage and that's how I want to take the 24 years that we've been together and move on. We can still love each other in a different way."
Welch, whose other TV roles include appearances in dramas such as Waterloo Road, Soldier, Soldier and Benidorm, has often found herself in the public eye due to her partying.
In her autobiography, published in 2010, she talked about how she had battled with cocaine use. She had even confessed to using the drug between scenes while filming Corrie but said she had sought help to deal with her drug use.
Last week, following her triumph in CBB, she admitted in subsequent interviews that it was no secret that she was still fond of a drink.
She was pictured with Healy shortly after the series ended when they went for a drink to celebrate his birthday, and she flashed her bra for a photographer.
Welch was previously married to former Brookside star David Easter, and appeared alongside Healy when they both featured in the cast of TV comedy-drama Auf Wiedersehen, Pet.