The Nolans star admits she made a "stupid mistake" by failing to declare jobs including TV appearances and an agony aunt column for a magazine to local authorities, who launched an investigation last year (14).

Nolan began claiming benefits following the death of her husband in 2007, crediting the money with helping her through a financial crisis, but she is accused of failing to tell authorities about some of the work she has undertaken since then.

The 56 year old has already started paying back the money, but she has also been ordered to appear at Blackpool Magistrates' Court in England, and Nolan tells Britain's Sunday Mirror newspaper that she is horrified by the situation she has found herself in.

She says, "I've been an idiot, so call me ignorant and call me stupid - but please don't call me dishonest... I feel ­embarrassed and ashamed, and I can't help but think people will be looking at me thinking I'm a cheat. But I'm not a benefits scrounger, a liar, a thief or a cheat.

"I've made a simple mistake, that's all that it is - and I'm devastated about it. I just want to hold my hands up and say I am sorry. I've already started to pay it back. I will pay it back in full... I don't understand why I am being taken to court. Maybe they think I'm a criminal but I wasn't intentionally (doing it). I'm just somebody who made a mistake at a bad time in my life."