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Lisa Faulkner praises pals Tamzin Outhwaite and Nicola Stephenson for helping her through pandemic

Lisa Faulkner has spoken out on the importance of her friendships with her celebrity pals Tamzin Outhwaite and Nicola Stephenson amid the ‘dark days’ of the pandemic, insisting the tough time ‘cemented’ their bond.

The actress, 49, is set to make a return to Lorraine later this month with the weekly four-part series Lisa & Friends, celebrating female friendships in all their forms.

The television presenter, who previously had a home cooking series on the ITV breakfast show, has praised Tamzin and Nicola, both 50, for helping her through the last 18 months, saying: ‘The pandemic hasn’t highlighted the importance of my close friends, it’s cemented it.

Best pals: Lisa Faulkner, 49, has praised celebrity pals Tamzin Outhwaite and Nicola Stephenson, both 50, saying they helped her through the ‘dark days’ of the pandemic

‘We’ve always been there for each other. If someone’s having a bad time we’re there, we’re also there cheering them on – when we can (due to the pandemic)!

‘We kept talking and messaging and WhatsApp groups were happening. We kept phoning each other, going for walks – dog walking when it was allowed. 

‘When we could only meet one person we met one person. When we could walk with three, it was three. At the start of the pandemic we had those Zoom cocktail days – those were very dark days, trying to pretend everything was okay!’

Comeback: The actress is set to make a return to Lorraine later this month with the weekly four-part series Lisa & Friends, celebrating female friendships in all their forms

Comeback: The actress is set to make a return to Lorraine later this month with the weekly four-part series Lisa & Friends, celebrating female friendships in all their forms

On their enduring friendship during the pandemic, Lisa added: ‘Most women I know have a close knit group of friends. I think women are very good at looking after our friendships – men are too, but women just get it.

‘We just celebrate each other. We all work really hard and are pretty independent, so it’s important to have that time – we turn to our friends to be cheered on and have a laugh with. 

The threesome have known each other for years, with Lisa working with Tamzin when she joined the cast of EastEnders as Fi Browning in 2017 while Tamzin played Mel Owen.

Blushing bride: The trio, pictured here with Angela Griffin and Amanda Holden, celebrated Lisa's hen do in 2019

Blushing bride: The trio, pictured here with Angela Griffin and Amanda Holden, celebrated Lisa’s hen do in 2019

And she and Nicola appeared together in Holby City when Lisa portrayed Dr Victoria Merrick and Nicola played Julie Fitzjohn.

And while they get along famously when together, Lisa explained that as individuals they all have different qualities. 

‘We are all very different,’ she said. ‘We all go to each other’s houses, share birthdays – we’re all really close – Nicola and Tamzin went on tour together.

‘I’d describe Tamzin as very capable, she can do DIY! Nicola is the funniest and kindest – she has the biggest heart. No idea how they would describe me, I’m sure it would be lovely.

Staying close: Lisa (pictured 2019) said of her friendships: 'The pandemic hasn¿t highlighted the importance of my close friends, it¿s cemented it'

Staying close: Lisa (pictured 2019) said of her friendships: ‘The pandemic hasn’t highlighted the importance of my close friends, it’s cemented it’

‘Hanging out and knowing each other for so long, there is a shorthand, you don’t have to explain anything. We’ve all hit milestones at the same time – being single, finding a partner, having kids. 

‘You become more comfortable in your skin and become more and more relaxed with each other, and we just laugh lots.’

Lisa, who married celebrity chef and MasterChef judge John Torode, 56, in 2019, is delighted to be able to spend quality time with Tamzin and Nicola post lockdown once again.

Happy couple: Lisa married celebrity chef and MasterChef judge John Torode in 2019 and the couple are enjoying having friends round for dinner post lockdown

Happy couple: Lisa married celebrity chef and MasterChef judge John Torode in 2019 and the couple are enjoying having friends round for dinner post lockdown

The television personality spoke of her joy at being able to cook for her loved ones again at home, inviting Tamzin over in the first episode of her new Lorraine strand to cook salmon teriyaki with sesame green bean noodles.

She said: ‘When we all meet up sometimes there’s a comment about “What should I make?”, so we all chip in and we all bring dishes.

‘They sometimes get nervous cooking in front of John but not about cooking for me! I guess because they see the name MasterChef! But they’re all used to it now, maybe more at the start. It’s lovely, it’s nice when other people cook for us.  

‘The most memorable meal we’ve had together was for Tamzin’s 50th Birthday. We were outside and only six of us were allowed in her garden. It was the only way we could celebrate (due to restrictions).

‘She had Nisha Parmer from MasterChef cater for us. We ate the most amazing food, sat in her gazebo freezing and wearing a massive coat, but it was so lovely – so freezing, but brilliant! One of the best memories that sticks out.’

Watch Lisa & Friends on Lorraine Wednesdays from September 15 at 9am on ITV and ITV Hub. 

Brand new: Watch Lisa & Friends on Lorraine Wednesdays from 15 September at 9am on ITV and ITV Hub

Brand new: Watch Lisa & Friends on Lorraine Wednesdays from 15 September at 9am on ITV and ITV Hub


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