EXCLUSIVE: Nolans sister Maureen forced to work at 69 and can’t retire despite selling millions of records

Despite being a member of chart-topping The Nolans, Maureen reveals she is living in a rented house with no savings and pension

After selling millions of records at the height of her group’s fame, fans could be forgive for ­thinking ­ Maureen Nolan was set up for life financially. But the singer and actress is still having to work for a living at 69 as she cannot afford to retire.

Maureen lives in a rented house, has no pension and she believes her and her sisters were the victims of some rip-off merchants early in their careers. The Nolans were one of the ­biggest-selling girl groups in history, topping the charts with I’m in the Mood for Dancing, touring with Frank Sinatra and becoming international stars.

But Maureen says ruefully: “I need to keep working. We thought we’d be ­comfortably set up by this point in our lives, but I don’t have a pension, I don’t have any savings and I rent a house. When I split up from my husband in 2016, we sold our home. I couldn’t have bought a new place without a mortgage and at my age you can’t get a ­mortgage. I never thought I would ever rent. It would be nice to have just enough money to say, ‘OK, I’m out of here, showbiz-wise.’ But I don’t have that.”

The Nolan Sister
The sisters sold millions of records 


Image:
Getty Images)
Maureen is The Nolans’ longest-serving member, having sung with them for 31 consecutive years. She adds: “We made millions, well, somebody made millions, but not us. I think we were ripped off a bit along the way.

“We were probably a bit young and naive. We were very happy and we trusted people to handle our affairs. Looking back, that might be where it went awry. I sometimes think, ‘Wwhat happened to that?’”

Maureen is touring the UK in Calendar Girls The Musical and admits her financial situation does cause her concern. She says: “Showbusiness is feast or famine. When you’re earning, you’re earning a lot, but then you can be out of work for six months. Of course, I worry about money and the older I get the more I worry. They say money doesn’t buy ­happiness, but it makes misery a little bit easier, I think.

“But there’s no point being bitter and twisted, you’re still broke. So, I try to treat it with humour.” ­Financial troubles are not all Maureen has to worry about. The sisters have been living in cancer’s shadow for 20 years.

Bernie died from the disease in 2013 at 52, Linda, 64, who has been battling breast cancer since 2006, learnt it has now spread to her brain. Eldest Anne, 72, was diagnosed with breast cancer for a second time three years ago, while youngest Coleen, 58, recently revealed she has a carcinoma.

With only Maureen and 71-year-old Denise untouched by the disease, doctors have told the family they probably have a rogue gene that hasn’t yet been identified.

The Nolan Sisters


Maureen says the band were ‘young and naive’ 
Image:
Daily Record)
Maureen adds: “So that’s a worry. Because they think it must be a rogue gene, there aren’t any tests available. We check ourselves and have regular mammograms, but we tend not to dwell on it. It’s unfair, but you’ve just got to get on with it.”

Maureen, who has a son Danny and four grandaughters, lives in Blackpool – where the Nolans grew up – and within walking distance of three of her sisters. Linda recently moved in with Denise and Anne is nearby.

Maureen’s brother, son and ­grandchildren are a stone’s throw away. The situation could not be more different to the four-year feud which led to the sisters dramatically falling out. It happened after Anne said she had been excluded from the group’s 2009 reunion tour. Denise backed her.

Maureen now reveals it was a letter from Anne and Denise that brought about a thaw in relations. She recalls: “They said, ‘Let’s try to get over it.’ It was awful, we’ve never fallen out like that before, my life was much less rich without Denise and Anne, so it was a huge relief when we made up. We’re as close as ever now.”

Calendar Girls The Musical
Maureen is starring in Calendar Girls 
Image:
PA)
The fourth of eight children, Maureen sang with The Nolans from when they formed in 1974, until their 2005 split. They sold out stadiums as far afield as Russia and sold more than 30 million records during their career.

In recent years, Maureen has mainly worked as an actress, touring the UK in musical theatre shows such as Blood Brothers, Footloose and now Calendar Girls The Musical, which has been such a hit the four-month stint, which was to end in December, has been extended to June.

Co-written by Take That star Gary Barlow, it tells the story of a group of ordinary women in a small Yorkshire town, who set about creating a nude calendar to raise money for charity. The scene where the women finally strip off to pose for their photos is one of the highlights and Maureen admits that she was ­petrified on opening night.

She says: “Part of me couldn’t believe I’d said yes. But Calendar Girls has such a good history I couldn’t say no and the way they do that scene is so respectful. Now, it’s almost second nature. I’m covered by lots of fruit. I’d like to say its melons, but I think it’s oranges.”

In a star-studded cast, featuring former EastEnders actress Tanya Franks and singer Lyn Paul, Maureen plays big-hearted Ruth. While she is relishing Calendar Girls, she says it is unlikely The Nolans will be back together. They reunited in 2020, before splitting againin 2022.

Maureen says: “We joke that if we did, they’d call it The Zimmer Frame Tour.” I’d never say never, but with Linda being ill it would be very difficult and I think if we ever did do it, it would maybe be a Q&A format with a few little songs now and then.”

The Nolan Sisters
She says it’s unlikely the band will reform 
Image:
WireImage)

With the exception of Loose Women presenter Coleen, who has earned money in her solo and TV career, Maureen says her sisters have been left in the same boat and have to keep on working.

She adds: “It might come to a time where I can work out a way I can, maybe with the help of my state pension, sort something out. Or I could go and live with Coleen. But for now, I’ll just keep going. They’ll have to bury me in my lunch break.”

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