At the age of 19, Danielle Nicholls shot to fame as the face of ITV's children's television channel CITV. Following a career gap after becoming a 'stay-at-home mum' and the tragic loss of her 17-month-old daughter, she's now enjoying a triumphant comeback.
Danielle is back on our screens after being brutally told last year, at the age of 43, that she was on 'the wrong side of 40' to be relaunching her career. The singer and model, from Swinton, was first discovered by producer Steve Ryde and she presented the daily kids channel, which launched the likes of the Teletubbies, alongside Stephen Mulhern from 1998 until 2001.
After three years at the channel she worked as a presenter on the Channel 5 celebrity karaoke show, Night Fever. By 2012, Danielle had three children with her husband, Dean Holden, who is currently manager of Charlton Athletic and an ex-boss of Oldham Athletic.
But, in that year, the family were hit by tragedy when their daughter, Cici, died after they arrived on holiday in Lanzarote. Cici had suffered meningococcal septicemia - a bacterial infection which causes blood poisoning, leading to sepsis.
She was rushed to a clinic on the island, where a helicopter was waiting to take her to the nearest intensive care unit. Within three hours, Cici had tragically passed away.
Two weeks after the devastating loss, Danielle says she did the 'worst' job interview. She recalled that after returning home to her family: "I looked at the other kids and said to Dean 'I can't go on telly pretending I'm happy.'"
After Cici's death, Danielle and Dean went on to have two more children - nine-year-old Mitzi and five-year-old Chase, joining Joey and Ellis, now aged 16 and 14 respectively. Danielle trained as a breastfeeding advisor to help other mums.
"For the next eight years I submerged myself," she explained. "And then Covid hit. I was in a dark place," she said. She said about the 2020 lockdown: "Dean and I had a conversation and had a bit a meltdown. He said 'you've got to do what makes you happy' and I said 'I want Danielle back' and we said 'let's do it.'"
By coincidence, last year Danielle bumped into a former CITV colleague in London when she joined Dean in the capital for an interview he had with talkSPORT. "It was serendipity," she said.
"Two weeks before that meeting I was told I was on the wrong side of 40. They said 'darling you're on the wrong side of 40 and you haven't got a hope.' But that spurred me on. Once I got over it and stopped crying it gave me a kick up the a**e."
Danielle, now 44, was snapped up as a presenter on the TV channel TalkTV and now hosts the Saturday Night Talkaway show with Andre Walker. Danielle, who now lives in Worsley, said: "People used to comment on my accent but nowadays it's gone in my favour," she said.
"I remember meeting with an agent and they said 'we're not taking on any more northerners, we've already got one girl from Scotland.' At 19 getting famous that quickly, it was intimidating. I do think being in TV has changed. It's much nicer this time around."
On Sunday (May 7) Danielle will be presenting the Manchester Remembers 2023 game at Oldham's Boundary Park. The game is a special charity match between footballing legends and celebrities to remember the victims of the Manchester Arena attack.
All the money raised from Manchester Remembers will go to five charities set up in the aftermath of the 2017 attack. To book tickets visit oldhamathletic.co.uk
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