As a family singing group, The Nolans, which started out as The Singing Nolans in 1963, grew up in the spotlight, working long hours as a young man.
Chatting with Kate Thornton on Question Time about white wines, Maureen and Coleen Nolan started talking about their unusual childhood, saying that sometimes she seemed a little exploitative.
“People were telling me, what was your childhood like?” Maureen told Kate. “And I would like to go ‘Oh my God. It was amazing!’ I loved being part of the big family and Christmas was magical.
“But actually now, I look back and think, ‘Wow, let’s talk about dysfunctional!’ When you have your children and your family, it puts everything in a different perspective. “
The group started when the girls were quite young, with Coleen joining the sisters who sang at just 15 years old. The rules now stipulate that minors under the age of 18 need a license to perform, as well as protect themselves during any job – something that definitely didn’t exist for Maureen and her sisters.
“I worked from nine to 19 without rules,” said Maureen. “There is no school, he arrives at three in the morning, he works every hour that God sends men after school, directly from school to the club. I would have killed some of that kind of rules back then.
“I suppose we were exploited a little, in the most pleasant way possible. We didn’t think it was an exploitation, but I suppose it was somehow, you know.”
Although she didn’t feel exploited at the time, Coleen said that looking back, she couldn’t believe that she had been forced to do what she did.
“When you take your kids and see how they felt at 6, 7 and I think we would have just left to go to a club for working men at that moment!”
Maureen, who has stepped on the tables of the musical theater ever since, said things changed for her when they moved to London and her father started drinking.
“It has become too much,” he told Kate. “I just wanted to be normal and go to youth clubs and things with our friends and not have to think about ‘Oh, I’m going to sing and I can’t do anything after school while I sing again. ‘ “
Their childhood was not without some highlights, especially when they stayed in elegant London hotels.
“Of all the clubs, there would be fantastic concerts from time to time in London at the Royal Garden or Grosvenor House,” Maureen recalled.
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He continued: “I remember stopping at the Royal Garden Hotel and the family in front of us got out of this limousine and everyone had a matching pigskin luggage. The boy in the top hat saw them inside and then looked at us and left! “