THE pandemic has been tough for many, and actress Sherrie Hewson confesses that she turned to the bottle as work dried up and her income stalled.
The 70-year-old Coronation Street and Benidorm star also removed all the mirrors in her home as she struggled to look at herself after putting on lockdown weight.
She says: “I’ve totally tried to rein my drinking in. I wasn’t a person who could drink a whole bottle of wine — because I’d be sick.
“But I had got to the point where I could drink a whole bottle — it became easy, and I would think, ‘Uh oh’.
“Alcohol doesn’t like me very much, so the next day I would always have a headache and it would always come back at me.
“I have to discipline myself, and it’s not because I have a drinking problem — it’s that loneliness.”
Sherrie has a very full life — doting on grandchildren Oliver, 14, Molly, ten, and two-year-old Rosie, who are her 37-year-old daughter Keeley’s kids, and spending time with her friends — but she lives alone.
“Don’t get me wrong, I see my daughter and my grandchildren every day,” she says.
“It’s when you come home and shut the door and I’m on my own, and the work wasn’t coming in like it did — because I’d never ever stopped working in my career.
“It’s the first year I haven’t worked, so that took some mental getting used to and it’s quite difficult. Everybody would be lying if they said they were fine, except for the people who are rich, of course.
“Mentally it’s taken its toll and financially it’s been devastating.”
The telly favourite says doing a popular podcast, the Wonderbirds Show, has kept her on an even keel during lockdown, even crediting it with “saving her life”.
She split with ex-husband and former DJ Ken Boyd, in 2001, finally divorcing in 2011, and admits she misses having a companion to share her life with.
But she has made her peace with not finding another partner.
She says: “I think it’s passed me by now. The only thing I miss is a cuddle — somebody to put their arms around me and say, ‘Let’s talk about it’.
“You know when you have a bad day and you want to go home to somebody and talk about your problems — I think that’s what I miss, that arm around me, and person to say, ‘We’ll sort it out’.
You do need that emotional relationship with somebody.
“I can’t see it ever happening now and that’s fine. People — men — of my age, they’d want someone at least 30 years younger.
“And being with somebody younger than me, I couldn’t do it, because it makes me feel ill just thinking about it.”
Sherrie married artist Hector Blamey in 1972, but the pair divorced two years later, and her 28-year marriage to Boyd ended after he admitted cheating on her.
She says: “No one needs a man to feel fulfilled or worthwhile in life — you have yourself.
“The only thing that crosses my mind is to carry on working and earning so that I can look after my family, and that’s all I need.
“Although my mother Joy would have been 95 now she always earned and never relied on a man. Everything she got, she got herself and she was taught that by her own mother, so that runs through my family.
“I have lovely friends, too.”
As well as enjoying a tipple in lockdown, Sherrie has developed a sweet tooth and says she has gained a stone.
She has previously talked about not having many mirrors in her home — and believes she has body dysmorphia — but she has now removed every single one.
She says: “The bathroom one has gone as well now, only because I have the Covid stomach.
“I can’t get my lockdown weight off and I know a lot of us feel like that. I’ve gained a stone. It’s a lot for me. I’m 11st now. My weight goes on my stomach and on my love handles.
“Before lockdown I hadn’t a sweet tooth at all. I don’t eat sweets and I don’t like chocolate, but since lockdown I have taken to cake and sugary things, which is not like me at all.”
Sherrie confesses it was hard to live up to her ex-model mum Joy’s good looks when she was growing up.
She is not afraid to admit that she has had the odd tweakment over the years.
She had her first facelift in 2001 at the age of 50 and a non-surgical “love handle” facelift last year — where fat is removed from around the hips before being purified and reinjected into the face.
She says: “In 25 years I’ve had all sorts of procedures and I can tell you nothing lasts. Whenever I’ve had tightening on my neck and lower face, it works but only for a short time.
“You have to come to a conclusion when you get older, because I don’t believe in young people having this done at all. You must never do it if you aren’t over 50 — it won’t last.
“When you get older, gravity pulls everything down. You lose all that lovely plumpness. But you can’t win. Say you’ve had your cheeks plumped — I’ve had fillers — well, then your forehead is creased.
“I’ve got bad lines above my lips because I smoked when I was younger, then your neck looks terrible. It just goes on and on.
“I look at Cher, and I think she looks amazing for 75 and Sharon Osbourne was the person who started me [on surgery] because her work is amazing.
“But she can afford that kind of thing — I’m not planning on anything at the moment.”
Sherrie has been a regular Loose Women panellist and had numerous acting roles, including on Emmerdale as Lesley Meredith, but it’s the famous Coronation Street cobbles that could call her back.
Sherrie has fond memories of playing Maureen Holdsworth for four years from 1993 — including with her on-screen husband. She says Ken Morley, who played Reg, would give her pep talks about her lack of confidence in her appearance.
She says: “We were doing a scene one day in a hotel looking in a mirror.
“Ken suddenly said, ‘You don’t see the face that I see’. He said, ‘Let me tell you now that that’s not your face. If you could see the face I see — you’d quite like yourself’.
“I replied, ‘I’m never going to see that face’, and he said, ‘No you’re not, and you’re a pain in the neck’.
“You never get to see who you really are.”
Sherrie made some great friends on the soap — which she returned to briefly in 2006 — and if she were to end up back in Weatherfield she would love a storyline with Bill Roache, who plays Ken Barlow.
She says: “If they came to me with a story involving Maureen, I’d love it, because she hasn’t finished her story.
“It was that time in my life that was totally joyous and I loved every single second of it.
“I’ve got such wonderful memories of Corrie and still such good friends including Sally Dynevor (who plays Sally Webster).
“I still speak to them, so I’d go back in a heartbeat. I felt very close to Bill (Roache), and Maureen is the only woman who didn’t have an affair with Ken. Maybe I can go back and marry him?”
While the pandemic has been tough — Sherrie also lost her brother Brett Hutchinson to a brain tumour in April 2020 — her daughter and grandkids have kept her going.
She adds: “Grandchildren give me the joy and love, and make my heart beat every day.”
Sherrie also gets huge enjoyment from her panel discussion programme and podcast the Wonderbirds Show, which she co-hosts with actress pals Debbie Arnold, Harriet Thorpe and Dee Anderson.
She says: “Wonderbirds has saved my life — we have the most wonderful guests.
“We do three episodes a week and everybody loves it. That’s kept me stable because I’ve had to get out of the house and put my make-up on.”
- Catch Sherrie live on the Wonderbirds Show via Facebook and YouTube every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 4.30pm