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Patsy Palmer

Friday, 14 May 2010

Patsy Palmer who plays Bianca in the hit soap EastEnders is here to talk about life on and off Albert Square.

EastEnders won 10 Best Soap Awards at last Saturday night's ceremony in London.

Awards in 2000:
. Won 'Best Actress' at the TV Quick/TV Choice Awards
. Won 'Best Actress' at the Inside Soap Awards
. Won 'Best Actress' at The British Soap Awards

How did you get into acting?

I went to a drama school which was an after school club for kids who couldn't afford to go to a stage school. I went there from when I was eight until I was 22. I had my first job at six in Joseph and The Technicolor Dream coat.

What was working on Eastenders aged 21 like?

It was really good and I had a little boy then so I was really lucky to have work.
I loved the Carol and Dan storyline and the David Wicks one (He turned out to be Bianca's Dad). It was really exciting so it wasn't hard for me. I was really young and eager to work. I enjoyed it so much.

Did you find fame hard to deal with?

Not at all. I have been doing this since I was six and I was prepared but I suppose nothing prepares you for the profile of EastEnders but I think because I focused on working as I wanted to earn money to look after my little boy. I never really thought about the fame profile.

You spoke about in your book 'All of Me' that you tried drugs at a very early age - do you think you grew up too fast?

No I don't think so. I think it was just the circumstance of where I was from and everyone did it and I wanted to be like everybody else and that's the only option I could see. I don't think I grew up too fast at all I always felt I was immature. I was aspiring to do what other people I knew did which was a shame really. I also have a personality that when I do something I want to do more.

Did your party lifestyle affect your work?

It did but not to an extent that anyone would have known. When I look back now I think I could have done so much more with my life. There were opportunities and I think I didn't go for it in the past. But now I was listening to someone today and they were saying it was like when we get better and wake up and have a few years of being sober and you are almost reborn into a new person and you look back and think god I can't believe that was my life and it's not what you want your life to be like at all. It's very weird.

What made you change your life?

I decided I didn't want to do it. I don't think anyone is happy doing that (drugs) especially if they have a family. I don't believe when people say they look like they are happy I just can't ever believe they are because it's a miserable existence. Taking drugs is horrible. You don't know it till you are out of it. People can keep lying that they are all right for years - don't they?

Are you still interested in health and fitness as you released a couple of DVD's in the past?

I am really into health and fitness but I can't do any high energy stuff because I have hurt my back. I do yoga now. I try to look after myself. Yoga is great for the mind too. It's all about relaxing. I am very active - I walk and I cycle along the beach front near my home in Brighton.

You also set up a cosmetics business?

I don't do that anymore. I stopped it once I went back to EastEnders and then the recession happened. I still wear it and people still love it. I still think about doing it again as I love the product. I did it because I loved it and it wasn't about being a celebrity endorsing the product. You can't do everything.

You went back to the soap in 2008 - do you think you appreciate it more now than you did at 21?

I really appreciate it. I enjoy it and because my family life is so important to me and my recovery is important to me that I am doing things I enjoy. It's a job.

I don't go into the things that go along with it. I went to the awards ceremony recently - that's nice but it's work. The young ones on the show love going to them and that's great as that is what I was like. I loved it but I have done it all.

Is Eastenders like one big happy family?

We always have such fun. All the cast members are so lovely at the moment. Lindsey who plays my mom is my sister in law in real life and we have great fun. Pam is great too.

Sid and I are friends since I was eight years old and it's lovely to work with your friend.

Are you very different to Bianca?

I couldn't me more different! I was only thinking that yesterday. To be honest, I feel so lucky as I look at her life and I think my life is so far removed from that.

People must shout the name Ricky at you all the time - did it ever happen anywhere unusual?
All the time in such unusual places. I can't even think where but it happens all the time.

You changed your name as well - why?

I changed my name as there was another actress called Julie Harris - so my mom went through loads of names and then she chose her name. With work it has been great as then I can completely detach myself from my work and then I'm Julie. I'm Julie at home and with my friends and then with work I'm Patsy. I wish it was a trendier name.

What happens when you sign a cheque do people question your name?

I ask a teller 'do you want my name?' and they say 'no' - I go 'no you won't find it under Patsy as that's not my real name' and they are shocked.

Of Course in the news is that there are six characters leaving the soap - how do you feel about that?

I think there is about 13 characters leaving. Obviously with Lacey there comes to a stage where you want to leave as you can't sustain that level. It's such hard work. I think in life you need changes and challenges. I think Lacey is great and she will do so well.

For some of the others I am not convinced that they should be going. I can't understand it but who knows that is not my business and they know what they are doing. It's sad to see people leave.

We had Lacey on the show recently.

She's so quiet isn't she? And she wants to travel a bit so that will be good for her. When you are her age you don't have loads of responsibilities so that's great.

Your son Charley was with you at the Soap Awards - he is studying performing arts - would you like him to be an actor?

He really wants to be an actor. He is very bright but he has other interests too like film making and script writing. I never want my kids to act. But I left it up to him when he turned 16. He is modeling as well but to be honest he's focused on his studies now.

And what about the two younger ones?

My 9 year old is a really good tennis player and has a tennis scholarship. He says to me how can I get on EastEnders? And I just ignore the conversation. My daughter is really good at art but now she is involved in the school plays and that has given her loads of confidence. I think it's brilliant for kids to do drama.

Is there any role that you would love to play?

A role I would love to play is a short film for Shelter called Cathy Come Home and I would have done a remake of that.
I also love programmes like 'The Wire' so something like that would be great.

EastEnders is on RTE One Mon at 8pm, Tues at 7.30pm, Thurs at 7.30pm and Fri at 8pm.