They appeared the perfect partnership and a successful blended family. But fans of Denise Van Outen were left shocked when, after seven years together, the actress and fiancé Eddie Boxshall suddenly split in January when it was claimed he had been unfaithful.
Heartbroken Denise, 47, revealed in her new autobiography, A Bit Of Me: From Basildon To Broadway And Back, how she had discovered Eddie, 48, had been sending X-rated messages to three other women – dating back three years.
Breaking her silence to share details of his betrayal last week, Denise – who shares 11-year-old daughter Betsy with ex-husband Lee Mead – said she had been left “in pain and shock” after discovering flirtatious exchanges between Eddie and another woman, as well as a picture of a woman’s breasts, on his iPad.
Describing Eddie’s behaviour as “disrespectful and devastatingly hurtful”, she wrote, “Among photos was a screenshot… of a woman’s breasts – and they definitely weren’t mine!”
She also revealed how she had found conversations alluding to having had “phone sex” with women. When Denise confronted Eddie, she said he denied doing anything wrong but she told him to leave. Describing how she had “cried her heart out” to her mum on the phone afterwards, Denise recalled, “I was in pain and shock. I’d thought we had the perfect life.
“Any relationship has to be built on trust and once that’s gone, there’s no way forward. If I hadn’t found those pictures, I’d be planning a wedding right now. Instead, I’ve simply got to move on.”
Previously opening up in a radio interview, the mum of one added, “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. I just feel like it’s really important as a woman to have self-worth and self-respect.”
And insiders tell Closer that it’s Denise’s close circle of friends who have helped her stay strong amid the drama – in particular former EastEnders star pal Tamzin Outhwaite, 51, who suffered her own devastating split from ex Tom Ellis in 2013.
The source says, “Denise has leaned massively on her family, especially her mum, but it’s also been her pals Tamzin, plus Lisa Faulkner and Kate Thornton, who have really held her together.
“Tamzin in particular has been through something similar, so she’s been talking to Denise regularly and comforting her. She’s reminding her that she will be happy again, but that it’s going to be incredibly painful in the beginning.”
Denise and Tamzin have been close friends for over a decade. Following her 2013 split from Tom – which happened after he confessed to cheating on her while filming in America – Tamzin said, “You need your girlfriends and it’s lovely when you’re just hanging out. I love dancing around my kitchen with them! We’re all there for each other.”
Last year, Denise also reached out to Tamzin to ask her to direct a live-streamed version of her play, Some Girl I Used To Know, and at the time, Tamzin described her close friend as “larger than life and so talented”.
It’s been nine years since Tamzin filed for divorce from Tom – who now lives in LA with his screenwriter wife, Meaghan Oppenheimer, 35. She’s since gone on to rebuild her life and is dating 31-year-old filmmaker Tom Child – calling him a “dream stepdad” to her daughters, Florence, 13, and Marnie, nine, from her first marriage.
The source says, “Tamzin’s been heartbroken for Denise and having experienced the betrayal and trauma of being cheated on, she’s thrown herself into supporting her pal however she can. Their special bond and connection has been strengthened by knowing they’ve both been through the same thing.
“Denise is a tough cookie and seeing how happy and content Tamzin is with her new man has given her hope that she’ll also find her happy ever after. It helps that Tamzin’s always joking how Tom knows a lot of hot single bachelors who would be desperate to line up for a date with Denise!”