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Essex star Denise Van Outen "has her sparkle back" following her new romance, according to her good friend Duncan James. The 44-year-old Blue member has been close friends with The Only Way Is Essex voice over star Denise, from Basildon, for a number of years.

The two have worked together on various projects, with Duncan even stepping in to replace Denise's parter Eddie Boxshall on Celebrity Gogglebox following their split at the end of the year. Denise, 48, broke it off with Eddie after seven years together, after he was caught messing with other women.

Denise previously opened up on the impact of the break up and admitted she "struggled to breathe" over the heartbreaking rumours that he had been unfaithful. Denise has since moved on with new man Jimmy Barba, and the smitten couple recently enjoyed an "amazing" holiday to Marbella together.

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Read more: The latest celebrity news from across Essex

The TV star is said to have fallen "hard and fast" for her new man, with pals reportedly predicting the couple could even move in together in the near future. Now, speaking to The Mirror, Denise's pal Duncan has gushed over Denise's happiness.

Duncan, who has joined wedding supergroup Simply Wed alongside Claire Richards in association with Mini Cheddars, said of his pal: "She's great. I mean, I love Denise to bits. I don't want to be talking about her private life because it's her private life, but she's really happy.

"And, after the year that she's had, she just deserves some happiness. I'm just really happy for her and she's got her smile back and her sparkle back it's really lovely to see that." Duncan joined pal Denise to film Celebrity Gogglebox earlier this year and the pair have been a hit with viewers.

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Denise Van Outen © ITV Denise Van Outen

But, the All Rise singer admitted his mum Fiona was a bit jealous when he got the call. Duncan said: "I've been a big fan of the show ever since it started and it's something that me and my mum always would have loved to have done together because my mum is hilarious."

He added: "When I got the phone call from Denise asking me if I'd like to do it with her, I was really excited because I just thought this is a great opportunity. I think my mum felt a bit upset because she wants to do it. So it was a bit of a bittersweet moment at home because she really wants to do but, who knows maybe then down the line."

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