Plus Sam Womack reveals heartache of family secrets in Who Do You Think You Are?
We’ll begin today’s EastEnders cast news with Jo Joyner – who of course plays Tanya Branning – who’s revealed that when her character first meets returnee Sharon Rickman, they don’t get off to the best of starts!
They meet after Phil takes Sharon round to Max and Tanya’s while he goes and explains to Shirley why he had to rush off to help his former mistress.
Sharon of course comes back to the Square on what should have been her wedding day, so when she arrives at the Branning’s house, she’s still wearing her bridal suit…
So the ever helpful Max – ever helpful when there’s a pretty blonde in need that is – offers Sharon some of Tanya’s clothes.
However, Tanya has no clue about any of this, so when she walks into the house and sees Sharon in her gear, she’s a tad put out!
In an interview with What’s On TV, Jo explained, “We definitely start things off a little bit ropey.
“They start off definitely a bit rocky, like anyone would with Tanya if they’ve been found in her kitchen with their husband, especially someone as gorgeous as Tish [Letitia Dean, who plays Sharon]…
“We’ve worked together quite a bit recently and I’ve loved it because she’s lovely to work with.
“We’ve had some very feisty moments and they are just finding their ground and circling each other for a bit and then they end up quite getting on.”
Apropos of Tanya’s friendships, her BFF in Walford was of course Jane Beale, who ended up leaving the area after her marriage to Ian failed…
But today, it’s been reported that Laurie Brett – who of course plays Jane – has landed a new role in BBC soap, Waterloo Road.
She’s set to play English teacher Christine Mulgrew, who is a functioning alcoholic.
Of her new character, Laurie explained, “Drink doesn’t affect Christine’s life – unless she doesn’t have any.
“She needs to keep a certain level of drink in her system in order to get through the day.
Also during the interview with the Daily Record, Laurie revealed that for the first time – with the exception of a TV advert some years ago – she’s able to use her own Scottish accent for the role.
She said, “I’ve only used my own accent once before – in a commercial years ago.
“This time around, it’s been a great tool to make a distinct departure from the role I’m best known for – Jane in EastEnders.
“The writers could have made Christine from anywhere in the UK, but the fact she was Scottish was a great draw for me.
“Playing in my own accent was quite funny and I hope no one tunes in and says, ‘She’s got a rubbish accent’.”
We’ll first see Laurie on Waterloo Road in the autumn.
Finally today, another former EastEnder, Sam Womack – she of course played Ronnie Branning – has revealed that uncovering her ancestry for BBC show, Who Do You Think You Are? was both upsetting and “healing.”
Sam – whose father committed suicide three years ago – explained, “My own past has been very fractured.
“My parents split up when I was six and we moved around a lot from place to place.
“My deep-rooted fear was to be isolated and lonely and there not to be too much information.
“I want to have a history, I want my children to have a history. I want to know where that line has come from.”
In the show, we’ll see Sam uncovering the history of her great grandmother Beatrice Garraud, as well as that of several other ancestors.
She said, “I felt angry towards Beatrice’s mum Jessie when I realised that Beatrice had been abandoned.
“I wouldn’t want to be that person for love nor money. It must have been a terribly difficult thing to go through and she must have been quite damaged.
“She fell into the arms of this exotic Frenchman — he’s been disowned, she has been disowned.
“They go off and have babies together then he dies and she is left with no option but to go to New York to tread the boards. I felt quite sad for her.”
Finally, Sam added, “It has been truly healing. I will never ask those questions, ‘who are we’, ‘where are we from’ now as I know them.
“It’s important to me because I like the idea that I have tales to tell my children and now they have some to tell theirs. It gives you a sense of being grounded.”
Who Do You Think You Are returns to BBC1 on Wednesday, August 15 at 9pm on BBC1.
More ‘Enders cast news soon!