"I still loved him"

Shane Ritchie and Coleen Nolan’s marriage was turbulent to say the least.

The pair wed in 1990, but were divorced by 1997 when she found out he was having an affair with with a fan he first met at the stage door when she was just 13. Coleen has frequently discussed what a devastating effect this had on her confidence.

So it must have really stung when Coleen heard Shane’s recent cruel jibe at her expense.

Reunited with his former Eastenders co-star, Jessie Wallace, Shane spoke about how their relationship has endured the test of time, unlike his marriages.

“This marriage has lasted longer than any of my real ones,” Shane said.

“We’ve played every emotion. We’ve split up. Infidelity, rape, cot death, baby swap, burned the house down – we’ve played everything. The audience has stuck with us.”

Presumably, his admission must have been hard to hear.

Coleen speaks up again…

But Coleen has again recently commented on the disloyalty in an advice column for The Mirror. Responding to a fan’s letter about her husband cheating, and how he has lived a double life for the last two years, Coleen spoke openly and honestly about her own experiences.

She advised the anonymous woman to leave her husband, as she finally did, assuring her that her kids only want a happy mum.

But she went on to say, “I know how hard it is, though. As I’ve said many times, I stayed two years longer than I should have done in my first marriage because I still loved him and didn’t want my kids to be from a ‘broken home’.

“Meanwhile, he continued to do as he pleased because he knew that’s how I felt.”

Coleen later admitted that counselling was the only thing that allowed her to move on, saying “It was only counselling that made me realise that if I really wanted to do right by our kids, then I had to end the marriage.

But she reaffirmed how important it was to be civil. “You don’t have to badmouth their dad, but you can explain that sometimes adults split up and reassure them that you love them exactly the same. You can both still be good parents without being together.”

Coleen originally found out Shane was cheating via a letter she received from an anonymous source.

Tearing the letter open, my stomach lurched, she wrote in her 2009 autobiography, Upfront and Personal.

“I hope you enjoyed your Christmas,” it read. “As it’s the last one you’ll have as a family. You need to know your husband is seeing this woman.”

It was anonymous and contained a newspaper cutting of a girl called Louise Tyler who was a dancer in a pantomime, Snow White. I gawped, staring at the picture.

I was sitting opposite Shane at the kitchen table as I opened the letter and, shocked, I handed it to him without a word.

He immediately snorted. “Surely you’re not going to believe that?” he said. “It’s just some nasty letter made up by a fan.”

Then he ripped it all up and chucked it in the bin.”

This led to months of paranoia for Coleen, who desperately searched for clues to whether Shane was cheating on her. Eventually, she got the proof she needed.

I hadn’t meant to bug his phone, she wrote.

Unbeknown to me, the computer Shane had bought me for Christmas was picking up all the calls to the house.

During those few weeks I’d had almost constantly plugged into the phone line as I attempted to master the internet, and friends kept telling me that their calls were being automatically answered by a recorded message from an American lady.

When I investigated further, while Shane was abroad, I worked out that there were 33 calls all recorded on the computer’s hard drive. Curious, I scanned through them.

“Hello Princess!” one began. For a second I relaxed.

Shane always called me that, so I just assumed he was talking to me. But his next sentence confused me.

“Are you in between shows?” he asked. “What time do you finish? I’ll try and come round.”

“What show? I hadn’t been in a show for ages. I could only hear what Shane was saying but there was no way he was talking to me.

“I really miss you,” he continued, in that affectionate tone I knew so well.

Caught red-handed!

While Coleen initially forgave Shane for his infidelities, he was caught cheating again later down the line, his bank statement showing evidence of two bouquets of flowers, ordered for Valentine’s Day. Coleen and Shane split in 1997, and then later divorced in 1999.