Lisa Maxwell at the 2023 RHS Chelsea Flower Show and inset at the Manchester Theatre Awards

Lisa Maxwell: Battle with eating disorder, bad reaction to filler, why she needed weekly therapy, and why she quit Loose Women

Once a small screen regular, Lisa makes a rare TV appearance this week...

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The Weakest Link guest star Lisa Maxwell mostly keeps to herself these days, but she used to be on some of ITV’s biggest shows.

Once known for her long-running roles on both The Bill and later Loose Women, Lisa has been a TV star for (cough) nearly five decades, having started as a child. Apart from short stints on Hollyoaks and Celebrity MasterChef, however, she’s not been on our screens much in the last 10 years.

So why did she did Loose Women? And what has she said about her personal issues with eating disorders, and fillers. Here’s everything you need to know about Lisa Maxwell, including her career, personal life, and why she left her biggest roles…

Madame Blanc Mysteries star Lisa Maxwell attending the TV Choice Awards 2013 held at the Dorchester Hotel in London, UK
Lisa Maxwell was a star of Loose Women and The Bill (Credit:

Was Lisa Maxwell in The Madame Blanc Mysteries?

Actress Lisa Maxwell guest starred in The Madame Blanc Mysteries in 2024. She played Nancy, a woman who was abducted at a surprise birthday party for a friend.

After excusing herself to a restroom, Nancy was snatched by a mystery gloved hand. Jeremy (Robin Askwith) then received a photo of a bound Nancy from her kidnapper. It became a race against time for Jean (Sally Lindsay) and Dom (Steve Edge) to rescue her.

The role marked Lisa’s return to the small screen after two years. In 2022, she’d popped up in one episode of Casualty as Alison Madbury, Before that, she’d portrayed Tracey Donovan in Hollyoaks from 2016 to 2017.

Who is Lisa Maxwell? What has she been in?

Lisa is an English actress, presenter and comedy star. Over a career spanning nearly five decades, her biggest roles were in The Bill and Hollyoaks. She was also a Loose Women panellist for five years.

A born entertainer, Lisa made her first TV appearance in 1976 aged just 12 years old. This was in the British sitcom The Many Wives of Patrick, starring Patrick Cargill.

She continued to have small roles as a child actor. By 1982, she beat off 3000 contenders to become a presenter of children’s music programme No Limits.

Her first adult acting role also came in 1982 with the Royal Navy film Remembrance. Timothy Spall and former EastEnders star John Altman were her co-stars.

She also proved to be quite the comedian, making a name for herself in sketch comedy shows including The Les Dennis Laughter Show (1987-1991) and The Russ Abbot Show (1990). By 1991, her efforts were rewarded with her own sketch comedy show, called The Lisa Maxwell Show. Disappointingly perhaps, this only lasted six episodes.

Lisa Maxwell arriving at the 'Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger' UK Premiere at Empire Odeon, Leicester Square in London, UK
Lisa Maxwell looking fabulous in 2012 on the Nativity 2 red carpet, unaware she’s about to witness a car crash of a Christmas movie (Credit:

Was Lisa Maxwell on Loose Women?

By 2002, Lisa was best known as DI Samantha Nixon in ITV police drama The Bill. Sam was an easy-going police officer, whose biggest storylines included being kidnapped by a serial killer. Lisa left the role in 2009.

From March 2009, Lisa became a regular panellist on daytime show Loose Women. However, she left the role in 2014, telling The Sun it was “not the same show and it’s not as much fun as it was”.

She said: “It used to be about a group of women who all know each other really well and have lots of chemistry. It has become a lot more serious and less personal. I miss the laughs and I miss the show coming from the heart.

“Now it’s just about giving political opinions. But I can’t do that and I think people watching can tell if you’re faking it.”

Next, Lisa appeared in the regular role of Tracey Donovan on Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks (2016-2017). Tracey was the former wife of gangster Fraser Black, and estranged mother to Clare and Grace. She was later found sleeping with the fishes by Grace in a shocking whodunnit.

She also appeared in Celebrity MasterChef in 2018, alongside Gemma Collins and Spencer Matthews.

Why did she leave The Bill?

Lisa explained on The Paul O’Grady Show in 2009 that she had suffered two miscarriages in 2008 while on The Bill. These contributed to her decision to leave the police drama.

She said: “It was a really sad time for me and now I don’t mind talking about it. It’s not like a secret. In some ways I feel the more I talk about it, the better it is – because I kept it a secret at the time.”

Lisa said that she returned to work after the first miscarriage in January. She continued: “In some ways I think it was easier to be Sam than be Lisa. [I was] facing up to a lot of stuff and I just ignored the first one; I thought it was my last chance to [have] a child again – and I was quite kinda down about it but I soldiered on.

“[I] ignored it, like I do everything, and then I was lucky enough to fall pregnant again four months later – and then the same thing happened.”

Her co-star Roberta Taylor eventually convinced Lisa to take time off from the show. It was time that Lisa realised she needed, and she announced her decision to leave the show permanently in January 2009. Her on-screen departure aired in September 2009.

The Madame Blanc Mysteries star Lisa Maxwell with partner Paul Jessup and their then six year old daughter Beau
Lisa Maxwell with her husband Paul Jessup and then six-year-old daughter Beau (Credit: Mike Lawn/Shutterstock)

Is Lisa Maxwell married?

Lisa married her long-term partner Paul Jessup in 2014 after 17 years of dating. She had popped the question to him two years earlier, the day before the leap year in February 2012.

Speaking on Loose Women, Lisa revealed: “I thought I’d say to him, once and for all, ‘Will you marry me?’ And he said, ‘Of course I will Nobby!'”

Paul is the former director of an events management company. He now owns the Great British Teddy Bear Company and Big Red Bus English, which offers language tuition to children in China.

The pair live together with their family in the Cotwolds. She also has three dogs – Pepper, a Miniature Schnauzer, Elvis and Priscilla Pugs-ley.

Where does Lisa Maxwell live?

Speaking to Great British Life, Lisa talked about her life in Edge.

She said: “We live in Edge because it’s beautiful. It’s not the ‘trendy’ part of the Cotswolds – but I didn’t move out of London to live somewhere trendy.

“When you do what I do for a living, you’re very aware of make-up and hair. I didn’t want to live somewhere where that mattered. Paul and I fell in love with our house the first time we saw it, even though most of the rooms were full of newspapers piled high against the walls. All the fireplaces were boarded up, and there were plants growing out of the hallway. But, even in its worst state, it felt kind and unscary. It was built by a wool merchant – the oldest part is 17th century.”

Lisa Maxwell on the Loose Women panel
Lisa Maxwell on the Loose Women panel in 2014 (Credit: Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock)

Does Lisa Maxwell have children?

Lisa and Paul have one daughter together, Beau Rose Jessup, who was born on October 11, 1999. Beau, now 24, has followed in the footsteps of her mum and made quite a name for herself – albeit in a completely different business!

The Sun reported in 2019 that Beau had made £260k from a business helping Chinese parents find a culturally appropriate English name for their children. Beau is a fluent Mandarin speaker.

She started the business in 2015 after her dad’s Chinese business colleague asked her to suggest an English name for her daughter.

Beau realised more parents could be in need of this service, as it is custom for parents to give their child an English name as well as Chinese – and some were choosing strange names such as Mint, Apple and Tree.

She said: “My mum and dad are proud of me and always believed in the idea, although no one anticipated the scale of the success.”

Lisa says that Beau used her profits to fund a social anthropology degree.

How old is Lisa Maxwell? Where is she from?

Lisa Maxwell was born in London, on November 24, 1963. At the time of writing, Lisa Maxwell is 60 years old.

She grew up on a council estate in Elephant and Castle, bagging her first television roles as an 11 year old.

Lisa’s mum Valerie Maxwell became pregnant to John Murphy, who was married to someone else at the time, who was also pregnant. Valeria, who was 22, returned to live with her parents. She raised Lisa with the help of her grandparents.

Lisa subsequently met her father for the first time when she was 45. She has three paternal half-siblings.

Lisa Maxwell and Scott Maslen in The Bill
Lisa Maxwell and Scott Maslen as DS Samantha Nixon and DS Phil Hunter in The Bill in 2006 (Credit: Fremantle Media/Shutterstock)

Has Lisa Maxwell has filler?

Lisa Maxwell has had filler in the past, but had to have it removed due to a reaction that caused “lumps on her face”. She revealed that a nasty reaction to fillers led her to make the “difficult” to decision to dissolve all of her filler in her face.

Talking to Lorraine Kelly on Lorraine about the “tweakments” she’s had in the past, she admitted to having had Botox and filler. The TV star admitted that she had the treatments after feeling “pressure” to “maintain a youthful look”.

The British actress recounted the moment she decided to have the fillers dissolved. She said: “I definitely felt that I was under pressure to maintain a youthful look. And you do little things along the way that you think are helping.

“Then I think, as time goes on, you have these so called “tweakments” – bits of filler here and Botox and stuff like that and I had all of that. Then I had a reaction to some filler and I had some lumps come up on my face. I just took a long look at myself and thought what am I doing here?”

Lisa subsequently made the “difficult” decision to stop all beauty treatments that prevented signs of ageing in her face. Though she admitted it was “mentally” very challenging.

She disclosed: “So, I decided to have all of the filler dissolved, everything taken out of my face. It was difficult, you know, mentally to see yourself in the mirror.

“Things start to sort of sag the way they’re supposed to. But I’m glad I did because love acting and in order to play my age I think you’ve got to be as natural as you can really.”

Lisa Maxwell took part in Celebrity MasterChef in 2018
Lisa Maxwell took part in Celebrity MasterChef in 2018 (Credit: BBC One)

Did Lisa have an eating disorder?

Lisa Maxwell has been outspoken about the dangers of eating disorders, having spoken about her own personal battles in the past. The actress suffered from bulimia as a “lonely” young actress.

She revealed she saw food as the “enemy” when she was struggling to make it in Hollywood in the 80s and 90s. Therefore, she used food and diet to control her life.

Once again speaking on ITV’s Lorraine, she revealed how living in Hollywood as an aspiring actress made her feel “very lonely”. When she narrowly missed out on the role of Daphne in Frasier, she felt very defeated.

Lisa explained: “I was very lonely and I wanted to take some control of my life. But I wasn’t interested in food because I saw food as a bit of an enemy.

“I was a lot younger and I didn’t see the benefits of nutrition; you think you’re going to live forever. I didn’t put any importance on food, and I had no interest and a weird kind of ignorance, I pushed it away.”

Lisa admitted that, at her lowest point, she weighed just 6 stone 13 lbs and wore a size 4 to 6 dress.

She decided to abandon her pursuit of fame in the US, and moved back home to Britain. Lisa went on to achieve success in the West End before returning to TV.

She eventually recovered from the condition, and now says she finally has an appreciation for food. In fact, Lisa appeared on Celebrity Masterchef in 2018.

Lisa Maxwell as Nancy Ludovic in The Madame Blanc Mysteries
Lisa Maxwell as Nancy Ludovic in The Madame Blanc Mysteries (Credit: Channel 5/Twitter)

Why is Lisa in therapy?

In the past, TV personality Lisa Maxwell revealed she needed therapy on a weekly basis.

In 2019, she admitted she needed it due to using “heavy” prosthetic breasts for a theatrical run of Calendar Girls.

The former Loose Women panellist wore the artificial boobs because she wasn’t curvy enough to play a particular role in the hit play. Lisa later claimed the weight of the prosthetics left her with pulled muscles in her neck.

It is also believed the strain “put her back out”.

Lisa told The Sun: “The thing about my character is she’s incredibly well endowed, and I’m not. I’ve got the biggest pair of chicken fillets you’ve ever seen! They weigh a ton and I’ve actually pulled muscles in my neck. I have to have physiotherapy every week because of my boobies being too heavy.”

Read more: Loose Women’s Lisa Maxwell needs physio every week after prosthetic boobs ‘injured her’

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Lisa Maxwell appears on The Weakest Link on Saturday, June 29, 2024 at 8.40pm on BBC One.

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Susan Brett
TV Writer