She had a toxic split from long- term boyfriend Eddie Boxshall last November, after it emerged he’d been messaging other women online. But Denise van Outen proved she’d moved on earlier this month after going public with new man Jimmy Barba, with the pair arm-in-arm and grinning together on the red carpet of the Grand Prix Ball.
Denise, 48, is thought to have been dating Jimmy, 55, for two months, after being introduced by All Saints singer Shaznay Lewis, and the couple are said to be smitten.
While he owns a property development business, Jimmy has dabbled in the showbiz world in the past. He starred on Italy’s version of Big Brother – Grande Fratello – where he came fourth, and has also done stand-up comedy and singing.
And insiders say that, while Denise’s pals are over the moon at seeing her happy again, they’re also quietly urging her not to rush things with Jimmy.
A source says, “Jimmy has made Denise the happiest she’s been in a long time. After everything that happened
with Eddie, he’s been a ray of light and she’s loving the time they spend together. Denise’s friends really like Jimmy, but they’re carefully reminding her not to rush anything.
"She was with Eddie for seven years and ending a relationship after that long can take a while to get over. The fact that she went public with Jimmy shows he really means a lot to her – but Denise’s pals are still a little wary, and don’t want to see her hurt.”
Denise’s previous relationships include a three- year romance with Jamiroquai singer Jay Kay, and the couple were even planning to marry when they split in 2001. She then married Lee Mead in 2009, with whom she shares daughter Betsy, 10, before parting ways with the West End star four years later. Other high-profile romances include a brief fling with Harry Potter actor Nick Moran in 2001, and a two-year relationship with nightclub owner Richard Traviss, before calling off their engagement in 2005.
Seemingly finding The One after a blind date with former commodities trader Eddie in 2014, it was revealed in January that Denise had thrown the love- rat out of their Essex home after discovering X-rated messages to other women.
Describing the ordeal as “heartbreaking”, Denise said at the time, “The one thing I’m really proud of myself for is I do know when to walk away and I don’t like to be taken advantage of.”
And the insider adds that Denise has taken her friends’ advice on board, and is vowing to be extra careful this time around, as she doesn’t want her heart broken again.
“Denise can see where her friends are coming from, and their concerns over her rushing into a new relationship,” adds the source. “But she has a good feeling about Jimmy, and really trusts him. He’s brought back her confidence and she’s telling friends he helps her feel like herself again. She’s definitely not going in all guns blazing, but equally she really likes the pace they’re going at and Denise is saying she doesn’t want to slam on the brakes for no reason and jeopardise anything.”