Real Housewives Of Cheshire’s Tanya Bardsley reveals why latest series was so explosive and what she said to Dawn Ward after filming stopped
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Tanya Bardsley is quite simply hilarious. The outspoken star always brings the LOLs when talking to the camera on The Real Housewives Of Cheshire, and we’re happy to report that there isn’t a shortage of quick-witted and comical one-liners when we chat to her over a Zoom call.
During the star's exclusive interview with new magazine, she likens herself to Harry Potter villain Voldemort now that she’s ditched the Botox and makes references to “stumbling over” her shiny veneers. We must admit it’s refreshing to see that the pint-sized star doesn’t take herself too seriously.
The 39-year-old, who has sons Rocco, 11, Renz, seven, and three-year-old Ralphi with Burnley FC defender Phil Bardsley, 35, tells us she is at her wits’ end with homeschooling and explains that the fact she, Phil and Rocco all suffer from dyslexia has made it even harder.
“We’re parents and not teachers,” she tells us. “It’s like tasking me to build a house – I’m not a builder!”
Inside Real Housewives star Tanya Bardsley's relationship with footballer husband Phil
Real Housewives star Tanya Bardsley admits she broke down when she couldn't afford her child's birthday gift as a single mother
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Tanya also has a daughter from a previous relationship, 18-year-old Gabriella, who is following in her mum’s footsteps to pursue a modelling career. Gabriella has already landed a contract with top fashion website Boohoo, but she also works in a pub collecting glasses, which Tanya feels is important for “character building”.
As well as family life, there are a whole host of topics we’re keen to quiz the mum-of-four about, including her battle with depression and anxiety, quitting booze and her Real Housewives regrets.
Here, the feisty ex-glamour model, who has appeared on all 11 seasons of the Cheshire-based reality show, dishes the goss on her rivalry with the girls, the penniless moment that inspired her to become a life coach and what she really thinks of her RHOCH pal Christine McGuinness’s sex tape…
Hi Tanya. How have you been since we last chatted?
I’ve managed to keep my anxiety away and stay on top of everything with meditations and affirmations. Last year on Real Housewives I had a mental breakdown and thank God it was last year and not this year. I’ve got a new doctor and I’m on new medication. My depression is a chemical imbalance in my brain, rather than circumstances. Luckily I’ve got that on an even keel.
Would you say you’re feeling in a better place now?
Yeah. I had postnatal depression, so last year I thought I could come off medication after years taking it, and I gave myself a chemical imbalance. Now I’ve got a new doctor and she’s got me down to 5mg of escitalopram. I’m in a good place now. Although homeschooling has pushed me to the limit!
You’re not enjoying it, then?
My eldest Rocco has dyslexia and I’m dyslexic as well, so it’s like, “I can’t do this homework!” It’s stressful just getting my boys to sit down for a start and then one nips the other one and then the football appears from nowhere and it’s like chasing your tail.
Do you know if your other boys are dyslexic, too?
They’re too young to assess, but Phil’s got it as well. It’s hereditary, so there’s a good chance.
How has having dyslexia impacted your life?
I only found out when Rocco was diagnosed. I used to just think I was thick. It was humiliating when I had to read out things in front of the class at school – I thought everyone else was more ahead than me – so it was actually a relief when I found out.
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve found with homeschooling?
I just can’t do the work myself. I don’t send my kids to private school, but a lot of my friends’ kids who do have been having Zoom calls with their teachers, but we’ve just been getting emails. I’m looking at the emails, thinking, “I don’t understand this!” It’s been mental.
Is Rocco back at school?
He’s in year six, so he went back on 29 June. And little Ralphi Doodle has started back, too. He loves it!
A lot of parents have been worried about sending their kids back. Were you happy to?
I’ve been worried about my nan and grandma and the elderly, but my kids have got such strong immune systems, so no.
Going back to your mental health, do you have therapy to help you with it?
I’ve had everything and that’s why I became a life coach. I’ve had depression on and off all my life really. I brought out a book called Just A Girl Who Got It All – How You Can Have Your All Too. I’m not having therapy now, but when I had my breakdown I went to see a psychologist who taught me how to be mindful about the anxiety and label it, plus how to use breathing techniques and meditation. There are lots of apps – I find Calm and Headspace really help me.
Real Housewives star Tanya Bardsley opens up on her mental breakdown and 'thanks god' it didn't happen during lockdown
How did your experiences inspire you to become a life coach?
I was a single mum with no money, so I wanted to become a life coach because my passion is to help other single mums turn their life around and for them to know that it’s not the end. I remember crying, having no money. I was sharing a bunk bed with my daughter in my mum and dad’s spare room after I left Gabriella’s dad. I thought that was it – that I’d be sharing a bunk bed with my daughter for the rest of my life. The first thing I always teach people is how you speak to yourself in your mind. But it’s hard when you have anxiety and depression, because it’s a chemical imbalance.
So what was the turning point for you?
I first found an article on the power of positive thinking. I became obsessed with the power of self-help and read all the books. A lot of it was hippy shit and I didn’t understand the big words, so that’s whyI brought out my own book and wrote it in simple language everyone can understand.
Did going through that give you a really close bond with your daughter?
Yes, we’re like sisters. Because we lived with my mum growing up, she does think of me like a sister. She goes, “I’m telling Nana on you!” And she nicks all my clothes!
And now Gabriella is following your career path and has started modelling…
She’s doing a lot of modelling for my clothing brand Tanya Bardo Boutique and for Boohoo, but she works in a pub waitressing and glass collecting, because I think it’s good for character building.
You’ve said recently you’ve curbed your drinking. What were the reasons for that?
I only drank once a week, but it flared up my anxiety. Everyone jokes about beer fear, but when you pour alcohol into your body it’s a poison to your brain. And your body starts making these chemicals to bring it down. I’m naturally depressed and suffer with anxiety, so pouring it into me is like, “Eugh.” I can go months at a time without a drink and then I’ll think, “F**k it, I’m having a blowout.” But I try not to do it too much, because it puts me in a bad place. It makes me so anxious. I’ll have a great time in the moment, but it’s the days after that I suffer – for at least three of them.
Did you drink a lot when you had blowouts?
I’d drink for quite a few hours. I started on tequila, which is the lowest-calorie drink, with soda water and fresh lime, so I convinced myself I was giving myself lots of vitamin C.
Have you noticed any other benefits of giving up alcohol?
God, yeah, I lost half a stone. I did Dry January and I felt so amazing that I just carried on. If you ever want to give up drinking there’s a great book called The Alcohol Experiment by Annie Grace. It tells you how to cut down and practise mindful drinking, as well as giving it up altogether.
Lots of people say they’ve been drinking more in lockdown, so what are the benefits of mindful drinking?
Mentally, I’m so much clearer. I’m not as moody, my skin’s better and my eyes are shinier. Even the sky looks brighter! I wasn’t drinking at all before lockdown, but because of the boredom I’ve been drinking once a week. It’s boredom, isn’t it?! When you’re doing Zoom quizzes you have to have a drink, don’t you?!
Tanya Bardsley's house: Inside Real Housewives of Cheshire star's home with footballer husband Phil
How has this time together affected your relationship with Phil?
We’ve been getting on better than ever – I thought we’d kill each other! I think it’s because there have been no outside stresses. I’ve not been filming, getting all het up and coming back and taking it out on him. He’s not been to football, had a bad game and taken it out on me. We’ve not argued at all, so it’s been amazing. Lockdown has suited us. We do hide in the bedroom away from the kids, though.
Ha! You had an amazing wedding in 2014. Would you ever do a vow renewal?
I would, but I think Phil’s still scarred from the price of the last wedding!
Could you convince him?
Yeah, deffo. If you can peck his head enough, he’ll agree to anything!
How would you like to do it?
I’d actually like to do it the same as we did the first time, at Peckforton Castle. We have a massive family – we had 400 people there – and it would be hard to whittle them down.
You were thinking about gender selection in 2018. Do you still want another child?
No, no, no! Lockdown has definitely confirmed that. We do not need another kid!
Oh! What made you come to that decision?
Rocco is signed to Stoke City and he’s there four times a week – he’s like a proper little Premiership footballer. They want to sign Renz as well because he’s so good, so that would be us at football every single day. And Ralphi’s just running around – he’s feral and never has any clothes on. We’ve got the dog as well, so we just couldn’t fit a baby in. And we’re knackered!
Do the boys get on well?
No, they fight, but I can’t hear any screams right now. They get on for about half an hour max and then it’ll kick off. It’s a circle of getting on, then they’ll start to wrestle or play fight, then one will start crying, then they’ll get sent to their rooms and then they’ll start getting on again.
Is Gabriella quite maternal towards them?
Yeah, she loves the boys. She and Rocco fight a lot because he winds her up. She’s really good with them, but she said it’s put her off ever having kids.
You’ve spoken before about your awful experience with a botched boob job. Has that put you off having surgery again?
I think I’d probably have one thing at a time. I had the lipo and my boobs done together – I remember lifting up the baby and wondering why I had a big green tit! I’d be a lot more cautious in future. I thought it would never happen to me, so next time I’d do all the right things and rest.
So what exactly would you like to change now?
I’d like to lose a bit of excess skin. Everything’s a bit looser when you have babies, especially around the middle. I’m going to try tightening, because I wouldn’t want to have a tummy tuck. I had all four of my babies naturally, so I wouldn’t want a scar.
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And do you still get Botox and fillers?
Oh yeah! Although not since last year, because I was due to have them done just before lockdown.
I usually have Botox every four months and a little bit of filler once or twice a year. [Points to her forehead] Now I’ve got bloody lines here like Voldemort!
Have you warned Gabriella off having anything done?
She wants a nose job, her lips and boobs done. I’m like, “No!” I can get away with it at the minute, because she’s 18 and living under my roof. I said, “You’re not touching yourself until you’re out of my house – and you’re never leaving my house!”
Are you dreading the day she moves out?
Yeah, I don’t think I’ll let her. I moved back home with Gabriella, I had Rocco and the next time I moved out I was about 30. Phil used to live with me at my mum and dad’s.
Did you enjoy filming the most recent series of The Real Housewives Of Cheshire?
It got cut short, which was probably for the best, because it was about to blow up! I think it was going to be one of the best seasons for fans.
Who would have kicked off?
Well, I think me, Dawn Ward and Hanna Miraftab weren’t getting on. Well, me and Hanna were…
What’s your relationship like with Dawn now?
I rang her after the series. With Covid it was all scary at the beginning, so I said, “Listen, with all this going on, life’s too short. Let’s call a truce.” And she agreed. So we were talking and it was back to normal, but then we had the reunion and it kicked off again!
We’ll always be alright. If someone’s in pain or hurting we’re there for each other. We’re like sisters who argue and then don’t speak for ages. Toxic sisters!
Do you ever look back at a moment and think you really hit below the belt?
Oh God, loads. Especially when I used to drink a bit more. It makes me cringe, like, “Tanya, what are you saying? Just shut up!” My grandma said if she watched it whenever I was drinking she’d shout, “Shut up!”
Do you ever get drunk on set?
Yeah, the champagne is flowing all the time. We’re not young kids and we’re all quite old, so we do what we want. If we want to drink, we’re going to have a drink.
Are there any arguments you wish hadn’t happened?
All of them, because I’m not an arguer. I’m not very good at it and I stumble over my teeth. It makes me anxious. I can have an argument and I’ll feel really bad. It’s just not worth it.
Does Phil ever cringe about anything you do on the show?
No, because he knew what he married!
Does he ever tell you off?
Sometimes he does a bit of head shaking and a bit of tutting. He knows I beat myself up about it as it is, so he doesn’t need to do it for me as well.
Real Housewives of Cheshire
The Real Housewives of Cheshire: A look inside the lavish living rooms of the glamorous ladies
Fair enough. What did you make of Christine McGuinness’s sex tape revelations in the recent series?
[Laughs] Christine has got a good sense of humour and she just jokes around. She probably has got one and I bet she looks amazing. She’s like a supermodel. I’m like a little hobbit stood next to her.
You’re all glam and gorgeous! When newcomers come in, do you give them tips?
I do. I do love getting a new Housewife and a bit of fresh meat. It was different for us. When we started we built as the show did, but now they come in and have instant fame because we get so many viewers now. I don’t know if I could have done it myself, coming into a group already there and coped with the instant fame.
It must make the WAG scene seem very tame in comparison! Or is WAG culture like the TV show Footballers’ Wives?
No, it’s not. Round here when you see other WAGs, they’re usually in workout gear at yoga or the gym, with no make-u on. Footballers don’t really go out because they have matches and I don’t go out unless I’m filming. It’s quite a boring life, really!
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