Tamzin Outhwaite feared ‘heart attack’ in terrifying near-death experience on BBC show

We’re used to watching actress Tamzin Outhwaite face plenty of challenges while playing a character – but in her latest TV project, viewers will see her tackle some chilling trials in real life.

The 51-year-old, who soap fans know and love as Mel Owen in EastEnders, is one of the stars braving the experience of a lifetime as they explore the wellbeing ideas of Dutch motivational speaker and cold-water therapy advocate Wim Hof in his new BBC show Freeze The Fear.

But within the first few minutes of being filmed in the sub-zero temperatures in northern Italy, Tamzin was forced to confront a painful memory from her past.

Tasked with jumping feet-first into a frozen lake, below eight inches of ice, Tamzin began to reflect on how her mum, Anna Santis, died suddenly in 2018, aged 67.

“My mum died of a very sudden heart attack and, in my head, jumping into ice-cold water could trigger something like that,” Tamzin exclusively tells Love Sunday about entering the freezing water – which can cause hypothermia to set in within minutes.

“My main fear was, ‘Am I going to have a heart attack when I hit the water?’”

Tamzin Outwaite feared she’d have a heart attack while filming Freeze The Fear

However, the down-to-earth star tells us she felt her late mum was with her every step of the way to help her tackle anything she faced.

And Wim helped them learn breathing techniques to alter their mindset about the cold. Tamzin, who describes herself as a “soul searcher”, says, “I trusted everyone with my emotions. I just felt like I’d had a meditation and I definitely felt a sense that my mum was around, which was a lovely, warm feeling.

“Everybody had a journey of their own. Everybody had a breakthrough of their own. The main attraction, I thought, was going to be cold therapy, but it was just so much more than that – the breathing, the unlocking things.”

Tamzin is joining celebs Owain Wyn Evans, Chelcee Grimes, Gabby Logan, Professor Green, Dianne Buswell, Patrice Evra and Alfie Boe (from left to right) for the BBC show

And it meant all the more to Tamzin that her extended family – including cousin Dan Baldwin, who produced the show, and his wife Holly Willoughby, who hosts alongside Lee Mack – were there to witness her journey.

“Dan and I used to live together in the same flat. He was in the spare room in my old flat many years ago. And all through life when we were growing up, we were all very close,” Tamzin explains. “So [it was strange] seeing him not as my little, funny cousin but this big boss.

“He came into the tent to deliver two pieces of pretty big news for us and he looked like he got quite emotional. I was looking at him, thinking, ‘If only all of our family could see this moment,’ and I got really emotional.”

The experience has continued to have a profound impact on her life back at home with partner Tom Child, 30, and her daughters Florence, 13, and Marnie, nine, who she shares with ex-husband Tom Ellis.

Tamzin is now safely back at home with her boyfriend Tom Child

Tamzin, who started the perimenopause during lockdown and has been taking HRT since last August to keep her symptoms at bay, has noticed a major improvement.

“I can go to bed pretty early and fall asleep because I’m shattered but sometimes I’m awake at 4am. But my insomnia since I got home has been pretty non-existent,” Tamzin reveals. “I don’t know whether that is the HRT kicking in, or me actually being able to access some of the things that I found there, like the breathing.”

She’s also trying to rope Tom into feeling the benefits of the cold on your body and mind.

Wim Hof leads the cold water therapy experiment

“I have asked him to come swimming at the Hampstead ponds with me but we haven’t quite made that yet. And I have said, ‘Why don’t you have a cold shower and see how it feels?’ but he hasn’t done that yet,” she smiles.

“I completely understand why, because I find it difficult and I experienced it with that big man – the Hofmeister. I’m probably the most out of shape I’ve ever been apart from when I was pregnant, or just after I had the babies, but at the same time I don’t give myself a hard time about it. The fitness phase is incoming.

“And what I’ve come back with is much more respect for my own fortitude. My strength is much better than I imagined. You can do much more than you think. You can challenge yourself more, so I think what I’ve learnt is that I’m strong.”

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