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Last Updated:  Friday, 28 February, 2003, 16:43 GMT
Nolan sister fits the bill

by Leigh Mytton
BBC News Online entertainment staff

To younger viewers, actress Bernie Nolan is Diane Murray from Brookside or The Bill's newest recruit Sheelagh Murphy.

But Nolan has a special place in the hearts of many over-30s as lead singer of girl group The Nolans.

Bernie Nolan
Bernie misses the cast of Brookside
With their shimmering costumes and platform shoes, the Nolan sisters sang and danced their way through the 70s and 80s with tracks including Don't Make Waves and Attention To Me.

Their 1979 hit I'm In The Mood For Dancing remains a club classic. Nolan says people still sing it to her in the street.

Nolan left the group in 1994, branching out into musicals before making her name as a straight actress.

Her sisters Linda and Denise also turned to musical theatre, while baby of the band Coleen presented This Morning. Anne and Denise are still touring.

"I think we will always be known as The Nolans," says Nolan, who looks back on her days in the group with affection.

There have always been wolves out there, but it was different for us because we had each other
Bernie Nolan

"It was such a laugh. At 19, I'd been almost all around the world and just had a fantastic time."

Nolan and her sisters did not experience the sharp end of the music industry.

"There have always been wolves out there, but it was different for us because we had each other. We protected each other and stopped each other from getting big-headed."

When she left the group, Nolan says she "planned to have a good time, do some gigs and earn some money that I didn't have to split several ways".

She says she could "never have dreamed" of how her acting career has taken off.

Special bond

Nolan started filming for The Bill just two weeks after finishing her three-year stint in Brookside.

She describes her new character, Sgt Sheelagh Murphy, as "very kind, but with a certain bitterness because she feels she hasn't had a life of her own."

Nolan has kept in touch with the cast and crew at Brookside.

"I sent them a picture of me in my police uniform," she says.

She remains especially close to the actors who played her screen family the Murrays. "We'll be lifelong mates. There's a special bond between us."

When she is not working on The Bill, Nolan enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter and playing golf. She is also planning to record an album this year.

Singing will always be important to Nolan, but she has achieved that rare feat of making a smooth transition from recording studio to TV set.

"I feel I'm being accepted as an actress by people who remember me as one of The Nolans," she says.

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17 Oct 02 |  Entertainment
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16 Aug 01 |  Entertainment

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