Comedienne Francine Lewis has barely slept in the tumultuous nine days since she accused her ‘sweetest, loveliest’ husband Joel Ryan of cheating on her with his friend’s partner on live television.
She had not intended to speak publicly about his ‘shattering’ (her word) betrayal, but, as she says, ‘it just came out’.
‘When people feel betrayed and hurt, they can do so many things in anger. I could have thrown all his clothes out the window. I could have burned them all. I could have smashed up his van. I could have done so many things — but that’s what I did.
‘It was so raw. I hadn’t known of his betrayal for 24 hours when I did that interview.’
She had been invited onto GB News to discuss fraud when she made the shock announcement about her marriage.
After telling the presenters her husband had introduced her to a fake stock broker company in 2018 — through which she subsequently lost £90,000 — she revealed her belief that he had also cheated on her.
At the end of the segment, she said: ‘There’s so many scams going on all the time, but you know what’s ironic? I stuck with my husband through this whole thing and last night I found out he was cheating on me with his friend’s girlfriend,’ she said.
Hosts Patrick Christys and Inaya Folarin Iman were left open-mouthed by the unscheduled disclosure.
‘I was in shock. We’ve been married for 17 years and together for 22. We’ve got two beautiful children.
‘Joel’s the loveliest — the sweetest — father and husband. You start to wonder: “Did I ever know this man? Who is he?”
‘Everyone would say: “He’s so in love with you.” That’s all I used to get told. “He adores you.” So, this is unbelievable.’
Comedienne Francine Lewis has barely slept in the tumultuous nine days since she accused her ‘sweetest, loveliest’ husband Joel Ryan of cheating on her with his friend’s partner on live television
Francine’s eyes widen part in disbelief but mostly in the sort of raw pain that robs your days of peace and your nights of sleep.
She and Joel, 43, who runs a construction company, have not spent a night together since the revelation that rocked their marriage.
‘It’s so raw still. I haven’t been able to even look at his face. There’s so much we need to talk about. We have children. We have a home. But I can’t.
‘I’m still waking up in the middle of the night feeling sick. My stomach starts to go tight. I take a deep breath and think: “God, is this really happening?” I have to keep questioning it because it feels like in one second my whole life is changed — shattered.’
Francine, a pretty, glossy-haired woman with the tiniest of waists and a huge heart, was with Joel cleaning out their garage the afternoon before her TV appearance when she received the Instagram message from his friend that turned her world on its head.
‘Joel came home early on Wednesday. He didn’t look upset. He didn’t look disturbed. His friend had seen the messages his girlfriend had sent him.
‘At 2pm on the Thursday, I got a message on Instagram saying: “[The friend] wants to send you a message.” I read it. It just said: “Our partners are sleeping together,” then four messages came through of screenshots of the text messages he’d sent her.
‘I said: “You’ve been shagging.” I’m not mentioning her name. I’m not giving her the publicity. He went as white as a ghost and said: “No, no, you’ve got it wrong.” I ran — I’m telling you ran — out. I was screaming, calling him every name.
‘I got my keys and called my sister. She thought someone had died. I was shaking. I was in such a bad way. I thought I was going to collapse.’
Francine dabs at her eye with her finger. Tears are never far away. ‘Do you know, I was only saying a few weeks ago, I’ve never had my heart broken? Some girlfriends were talking about heartbreak.
Francine concedes that their marriage wasn’t always ‘perfect’ and is trying to be fair. ‘I’d go upstairs, sit in my room and watch what he called my rubbish TV — the Kardashians’.
‘I said: “I’ve never, ever experienced that.” I hadn’t — until now.’ She snorts a sort of little, bleak laugh.
Francine, 47, is, as she says, ‘the impressionist, the funny girl’ who became something of a poster girl for women of a certain age when, after stepping back from a promising showbusiness career to be a full-time mother, she returned to the stage to win the semi-final of Britain’s Got Talent nine years ago.
She says her job is ‘to make people laugh’ and rarely, if ever, speaks about her private life.
Talking about her unexpected revelation on GB News, she says: ‘Because I was part of this campaign, I had told the story over and over and over again so I would just go through it but, as I was going through the motions, I could actually hear in my voice I wasn’t speaking about my husband in a nice way.
‘My tone started to get angry — kind of blaming him. The anger grew and I suddenly wanted to tell everyone what had happened.
‘My mum begged me that morning not to do do the show because I hadn’t slept all night. But I’ve been in the industry since I was young. People now — young influencers and reality stars — will turn up late for jobs or cancel if they’re going through personal stuff, but I’m a pro.
‘In hindsight, I shouldn’t have done that appearance. I regret it for my children — my daughter — because she’s found it very tough to deal with. I’m sorry if I embarrassed them.
‘It was the wrong thing to do for my children — not for Joel.’
Francine, a pretty, glossy-haired woman with the tiniest of waists and a huge heart, was with Joel cleaning out their garage the afternoon before her TV appearance (above) when she received the Instagram message from his friend that turned her world on its head
The star – who made the original claims live on Friday’s GB News – discussed how her ‘life changed in a split second’ in a lengthy social media post
Her husband texted her the moment she finished the interview. ‘He said: “I’ve watched it and I’m gutted,’’ she says. ‘I just texted back: “Well, I’m devastated by what I had to see yesterday.”’
She pushes her hair over her shoulder as goodness knows how many conflicting emotions pass across her face. ‘I’m not going to blame myself for doing what I did. It was never intentional. After the show, everyone came and hugged me and just said: “Oh my God, I’m so sorry. We didn’t know. You’re a trooper coming on today.”
‘Then all the messages started coming in. I can’t explain to you how thrilling it was to hear from people about their stories. They wanted to talk to me because I showed raw emotion.
‘A lot of people who have been through this will talk to the Press or whatever six months after the affair happened — once they’ve worked through it or managed to reconcile.
‘Because of the emotion I showed, people were telling me things like when it happened to them they got arrested because they went crazy or they wanted to kill their partner — dreadful stories.
‘You have to understand when people have been betrayed, we do things through anger, shock and then think: “Am I weird? Am I crazy?” No you’re not. You’re just hurting.’
Francine’s mind skips direction for the umpteenth time during this emotionally taut interview.
‘One of the reasons I’m doing this is because, although I’ve said Joel’s cheated on me, I also want to clear his name,’ she says.
‘He’s been called a love rat — a cheating husband. I’ve obviously had time to think and I don’t feel that’s entirely fair. Whether he and this woman have met or not, I’ll never know. But it certainly wasn’t a long-term affair and he’s certainly never done it — to my knowledge — before this.’
Francine concedes that their marriage wasn’t always ‘perfect’ and is trying to be fair. ‘I’d go upstairs, sit in my room and watch what he called my rubbish TV — the Kardashians.
‘He watches all these documentaries,’ she says.
Francine is staying with her cousin when we speak. She and Joel have been spending a few days each at the five-bedroom family home in Cuffley, Hertfordshire, with the children, but never together
‘You know what it’s like when you’ve got teenage kids. Things change. I think we were both changing. He became a lot more moody and opinionated and was spending more time on the phone. He wasn’t the sweet, lovely husband I’d had in the beginning, but we always had passion. I suppose we carried on like married couples do. We…’
She stops mid-sentence and looks startled as something occurs to her.
‘Can you believe two weeks ago we were away on a mini Easter break? It was spontaneous and I love spontaneous.
‘Joel suddenly said: “Let’s just go away. Let’s go tonight.” We had three days away starting off in a beautiful spa hotel and ending up in Oxford. It was amazing. We had a real giggle. I remember saying to him the morning he went back to work: “I don’t want you to go.”
‘I was just hugging him, saying: “I had the best time.” He said: “I don’t want to leave you either.”
‘I’d never have guessed that a few weeks earlier he was texting that woman.’ Her face hardens.
‘When I read the texts he’d sent her [in March] I wanted to throw up. I don’t want to reveal what was in them — that’s not fair on my children — but let’s just say they were enough for me to want to end my marriage. There was intimate conversation and there were also deleted texts from him so I can only imagine what was sent.
‘What I read wasn’t a friendship, let’s put it that way. I have no proof that anything ever happened between them, but the messages made me feel I could no longer trust this man. The wanting each other was there and that was enough for me to feel the betrayal and the hurt.
‘There’s nothing worse than seeing something in black and white, something…’ Again, her words are lost in tears.
‘When I got back to the house that day, I went straight upstairs. I was just distraught. He was sending me texts telling me how sorry he was and how much he loved me. I was crying. He was in a bad way too. I didn’t want him to do anything stupid, so I sent my daughter down and said: “Stay with Dad. Watch him through the night.”
‘She did, bless her. My son stayed with me. I didn’t sleep. I just cried all night. In the early hours he was telling me on text how much he loved me, how sorry he was and that I was his life. He said he knew how wrong he was. He owned it.
‘He was distraught. I wouldn’t answer. The next morning he came to my dressing room to try to talk to me. I just couldn’t look at him. I was holding my hands over my eyes.’
Francine, 47, is, as she says, ‘the impressionist, the funny girl’ who became something of a poster girl for women of a certain age when, after stepping back from a promising showbusiness career to be a full-time mother, she returned to the stage to win the semi-final of Britain’s Got Talent (above) nine years ago
She covers her face with her hands to demonstrate. When she removes them, her eyes flash with fury as I ask if she’s confronted the woman involved.
‘I don’t want to have anything to do with that woman,’ she says. ‘I don’t want to speak to her. I don’t want to see her. She’s nothing to me.
‘What sort of woman does that? It’s absolutely disgusting. I just think women like that have no shame. It’s him I’m really angry with and I have every right to feel that way. I’m not a crazy woman or a woman who would go crazy over nothing.’
Francine is staying with her cousin when we speak.
She and Joel have been spending a few days each at the five-bedroom family home in Cuffley, Hertfordshire, with the children, but never together.
The last time she returned there after a few days respite at a spa hotel with her son, he had filled the house with chocolates, flowers and ‘little love notes’.
‘That got me,’ she says.
‘For a minute, I forgot everything. I want to hug him — just wanted him to be there with me. I get moments like that a lot. I hate seeing him sad but, when I feel like that, I have to think: “Fran, get back to reality. That’s what he was doing.”
‘In the beginning, I wanted to see a lawyer and get a divorce. Now, I’ve said to him I’m willing to see a therapist with him.
‘First we need to sit down and talk this weekend. There are a lot of questions and a lot of things that need to be changed in our marriage. He needs to come off his phone. We’ve got to make time for each other — date more. We lost the romance.
‘But then I start feeling very anxious because I can’t bear the thought of living in the house with him. If he can lie about these things what else has he been lying about? The man I married was an honest, loving, sweet guy.
‘My disappointment with him is he should have said: “I’m not happy” instead of doing this to me. In my heart I don’t know if I’ll ever love anyone like I loved him and I don’t know how I would feel to see him with someone else.
‘But then I’m now asking myself would I trust anyone ever again? That’s the big question. I don’t know the answer. It’s crazy. Crazy. How can your life change like this in a second? How?’
It’s a question women – and men – have asked themselves time and again. There is never an easy answer.