By her own admission, Brenda Edwards’ weight has fluctuated over the years. The Loose Women panelist – who was part of the show’s first ever all-black panel – previously confessed that she started dieting after seeing herself on The X Factor back in 2005, and claimed Simon Cowell asked, ‘What have you come as?’ at her first audition.
Brenda – who is mum to Jamal, 30, and Tanisha, 26 – also tells us why she’s so grateful to have been working through lockdown, plus how she felt about Andrea McLean and Saira Khan’s exits from the show…
Hi Brenda! How have you found the lockdowns?
My weight fluctuates and it has in lockdown. I was 14st in March last year and I got on the scales last week and am now 15st 8lb. But I try not to let it get me down, because I don’t want food to be what defines me.
How body-confident are you?
I am confident, I’m a curvy woman and I like that. I have a big personality and a big curvy body to go with it, but I just want to get fit.
Has your confidence changed since your breast cancer diagnosis in 2016?
Yes, having a mastectomy was such a big decision, but I feel much stronger coming out of that. I had six months of chemotherapy, I lost my hair and nails and I still have peripheral neuropathy, which is constant pins and needles in my fingers and toes. But nobody [knows] because I keep that smile on my face – and my surgeon did a magnificent job, so you can’t tell I had a mastectomy when I’m wearing clothes.
Are you dating right now?
When this all started in March, I was like, ‘No, I’m too busy,’ then it got to September and I was like, ‘It would be nice to have somebody to sit on a sofa with and watch a movie with, cook some dinner with, or have someone on the end of the line that I can phone and whisper sweet nothings to.’ But I’ve got my cats, Tiny and Tempah, and that’s fine.
What’s it like to be part of Songs of Praise?
When I was five years old, both my parents died in a car crash and my grandmother looked after me and my brother. She was a member of a Pentecostal church and we would go to church seven days a week, then come back and watch Songs of Praise whenever it was on. So when they got in touch with me, it was a beautiful surprise.
Do you still enjoy appearing on Loose Women?
The women are so supportive and it’s nice to have that kind of sisterhood there. You don’t think about what you’re saying sometimes because you’ve got your cuppa [and you’re] just having a chinwag. And, [during the] lockdowns, I’ve been very grateful for it because otherwise I’d be in the house on my own with my own thoughts, and wouldn’t get out of my pyjamas.
Saira Khan and Andrea McLean recently left the show. How did you feel about that?
The panel’s forever changing, but I was really sad when Andrea left. It was such a shock. But I’m in touch with her and Saira still, and I wish them both the most amount of luck. What people need to remember is that Loose Women is a debate show, so not everybody’s going to agree and that’s OK.
And what do you hope for after the pandemic?
The first thing I want to do is go and see a show – I don’t care what it is. I just want to be able to sing, dance and enjoy.
● Songs of Praise is on BBC1 on Sundays at 1.15pm