In The Press


In the press

September

8th - The secret Slater

8th - Aisle be there for you

15th - Shock and horror

15th - Never the bride?

22nd - Kat-Astophe

22nd - Help is at hand

25th - Kats ordeal really got to me

October

8th - The cast's reaction to the introduction of Belinda.

10th - Another Merry Christmas

22 - Wild Kat naughtiest girl in school

 

 

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IN THE PRESS LIST

September 8th

 

Inside Soap issue 188 - The secret Slater

 

As if four Slater girls weren't ebough to keep us entertained in Eastenders, watch out for a fifth sister arriving in Albert Square in early October.  Belinda will be played by Leanne Lakey- previously seen in London's Burning and The Vice.  Belinda arrives in Walford for Lynne's hen night, where she proves she's not as many worlds apart from the rest of her family as she'd like to believe...

 


Inside Soap issue 188 - Aisle be there for you

 

Viewers have spent moths wondering whether love-struck Lynne Slater will ever manage to drag reluctant Garry Hobbs down the aisle.  But this fortnight it's the stressed out cafe worker who looks set to call off their wedding at the last minute, after her half-hearted disappoints her one time too many.

The couple's problems begin when Garry fails to turn up on time for the wedding rehearsal, which descends into farce as Lynne's dad, Charlie, and Garry's best man, Mark Fowler, are forced to take turns standing in for the groom.  This coupled with the fact that the bride and the bridesmaid's dresses are looking looking more cheep than chic, pushes Lynne over the edge.

"Garry's unreliable at the bets of times, but when he doesn't show up for the wedding rehearsal, Lynne thinks it's an omen," explains Elaine Lordan, who plays the worried bride to be.  "The way she sees it, if he can't be there for the practice run, what hope is there of him turning up to the actual wedding?  They try to carry on without him, but everything just goes wrong.  Lynne's really upset when she tries on her wedding dress, because it's ripped at the side and looks a bit cheep.  And when her sisters, Zoe and Kat, appear in bridesmaids dresses that make them look like little Bo Peep, Lynne just bursts into tears."

Before long, Lynne announces that she wants to call off the wedding.  "It may seem like she's over-reacting, but the last time Lynne was due to get married she was jilted at the altar, so I'm amazed she's not more nervous," reasons Elaine.  "The whole time she's been planning the wedding, she's had doubts.  So when Garry doesn't arrive at the rehearsal, she fears the worst- and she's rather cancel the wedding than be jilted again."

But what Lynne doesn't realise is that Garry is only absent because he is busy trying to give her a dream honeymoon.  "Ever since Lynne discovered Garry's plan to take her to Skegness for their honeymoon, he's been under pressure to book somewhere a lot better," says Ricky Groves, who plays the cheeky mechanic.  "But a nicer honeymoon means Garry needs more money, so on the night of the rehearsal he's doing overtime at the Arches, and he loses track of time.  In the end he only wants to make Lynne happy, but by the time he gets to the rehearsal she won't even listen to his explanation, she just assumes he doesn't want to get married."

Judging by the struggle Lynne had getting him to propose in the first place, wouldn't Garry be pleased if Lynne called the whole thing off?   "I think Garry has had really mixed feelings up to now.  He's been going along with all the fuss and hassle for Lynne's sake.  It's not that he doesn't want to marry Lynne, but while she's enjoyed the build up, choosing the dress and making the plans, it's not been so exciting for him," explains Ricky.

"But when Lynne talks about cancelling the wedding, Garry feels quite gutted," says Ricky.  "He's been working really hard to give her a decent honeymoon, and he feels he can't do anything right. And although he's seemed a bit reluctant, he wouldn't have let things get this far if he didn't want to go through with it."

However, while Garry may finally be prepared to settle down, Elaine has her doubts about whether he or Lynne, are really ready to make such a commitment.  "I don't think Garry will be taking his vows that seriously if they do go through with it, as he's already been unfaithful to Lynne countless times," laughs Elaine.  "And while she's focused on getting Garry down the aisle, she's also been getting friendly with Beppe di Marco- she definitely fancies him!"

Ricky agrees: "It's the nature of soaps that couples aren't allowed to be too happy, because there has to be  a bit of friction to keep things interesting.  But although it's  Garry who's been the naughty one so far, I'd like to see Lynne cheat on him, as people won't be expecting that."

Regardless of whether Lynne and Garry make it to the church, Elaine and Ricky are just relieved that their own love lives aren't fraught with quite as many problems.  "I'd never put myself in Garry's situation- he shouldn't have proposed to Lynne because he doesn't know what she wants," sighs Ricky, who is dating co-star Hannah Waterman (Laura Beale).

"Lynne only said yes to Garry because she's scared of being left on the shelf, and I think she will live to regret it," adds Elaine.  "My bloke is nothing like Garry- thank the lord!  I wouldn't stand for it!"


September 15th

 

Soaplife issue 27  - shock and horror

 

Now that Sonia's hanging out with her new college pals, Jamie Mitchell is feeling a tad neglected- and you know what that means.  Sparks are flying between him and Zoe Slater again and, knowing how weak the Mitchell flesh is, there's sure to be trouble on the horizon.

It starts with a shared lunch and a walk in the park.  Sweet and innocent enough.  But while Jamie moans to Zoe about how hard done by he is, she gazes at him adoringly with her Bambi eyes, and it's pretty obvious what's on her mind.

"If she had any sense, she'd steer clear after what happened in Brighton," says Michelle Ryan, who plays Zoe.  "But she believes her fantasy will come true, and she and Jamie will be together one day.  When he comes to her feeling neglected, she reads an awful lot into it and thinks this might be her chance."

Why she thinks it will be different this time, God knows.  Perhaps she's gained hope from the fact that he and Sonia don't seem t be close these days.

"Whenever Jamie is sad, Zoe thinks it's because things are wrong with Sonia.  When he says they don't see each other so often. she assumes Sonia is moving on, and Jamie is about to dump her," says Michelle.  "in a way you can't blame it all on Zoe- Jamie always goes to her when he's got problems with Sonia..  He uses Zoe and so far she has let him get away with it."

Jamie clearly fancies Zoe but, as he's already said, he loves Sonia.  It doesn't stop him giving Zoe a kiss on the lips though, which she sees as a green light.  "She kisses him back, a full-on passionate snog.  Kat sees it and is very disappointed, as she's told Zoe time and again to stay away from Jamie to avoid getting hurt.  And she should know- it's happened to her enough times.

"After the kiss- surprise surprise- Jamie , back to his cold self, tells her it was a mistake.  Last time he did this, Zoe was shattered.  but this time she flips and I'm pleased she does.  It's about time she stood up for herself instead of taking it like a mug.  She says he can't just turn to her whenever he wants, and it seems he finally realises he's hurt her."

So does that mean the love affair we've all been waiting for could at last be on?

"Unless Jamie tells her straight that it's never going to happen, Zoe won't give up," says Michelle.  "So there's probably more to come!"

What Zoe doesn't realise is that Jamie's about to be the least of her problems as, within weeks, her life will change forever.  First Pauline loses Zoe her job on Mark's stall.  Then the Slater's are about to suffer probably Walford's worst family crisis ever.

"Zoe's going to feel as if the whole world is against her," reveals Michelle.  "She's about to discover an awful family secret that will turn her world upside-down- and she's got nobody to turn to..."


Soaplife issue 27 - Never the bride?

 

Dreams of a fairytale wedding would be pretty understandable- If Lynne Slater was 21 and she were marrying anyone but Garry Hobbs.  But Lynne's a thirty something and her hubby-to-be's viewing the nuptials like a turkey views Christmas.

The very mention of the M word sees Garry turn pale, and he's so unimpressed by the thought of the big day that he nearly did cartwheels when the roof of the church they originally planned to tie the knot in collapsed.  On top of that, he didn't send the wedding invites out- and thought Skegness was an ideal venue for the honeymoon.  Not a good sign...

'All Lynne cares about is the fact that Garry's asked her to marry him," says actress Elaine Lordan, who plays her.  "She's waited years for this to happen and, now that it has, she's not going to spoil it by opening her eyes to see what's really going on."

Garry may have proposed but now he's acting like a lamb being led to the slaughter, are we to believe he's going to make it down the aisle- ever?

'It's definitely going to happen as far as Lynne's concerned," says Elaine.  "This is the day she's dreamed about since she was little and she wouldn't even consider the idea it's not going to take place.  Years ago she was jilted at the altar by an ex-boyfriend and she can't contemplate it happening again.  It would be her worst nightmare."

But if she new half of what Garry's been up to since their engagement, she would share fans fears that history looks all too likely to repeat itself.

"Things do look shaky," admits Elaine.  "Either way, the wedding will be a total disaster... If it does happen, Garry will make her unhappy, and she'll be devastated if she's jilted again."

But why would a bright women want to marry a no-hoper like Hobbs?

"Lynne's terrified of being left on the shelf," says Elaine.  "She's in her 30's and feels she should be married with children.  She believes that if she doesn't marry Garry, she'll be on her own.  It sounds terrible, doesn't it?  But I think it all boils down to the fact that she hasn't got a lot of confidence.  I wouldn't put up with a bloke like Garry and don't know many women who would.  I think she'd be better off on the shelf than married to him."

Lynne would make a lovely mum and a loving wife, but Garry is the last person on Earth to appreciate it.  He'd always be far too busy eyeing up every woman who crosses his path.  "He's always been an outrageous flirt and so far he's managed to get away with it.  At the end of the day, he wants his cake and he wants to eat it.  I don't think he'd ever be happy with one woman but, at the same time, he'd hate to be without Lynne.  That's why he asked her to marry him in the first place as he thought he was about to lose her," says Elaine.

So will wedding bells chime or will Lynne be dusting off that shelf?  "You'll have to wait and see," says Elaine.  "things could go either way.  Whatever happens, you can only feel sorry for her..."


 

Saturday 22nd - All About Soap - Kat-astrophe

 

When it was revealed that Eastender's Kat Slater was not actually Zoe's sister but her mother, every fan in the country was stunned.  So if that's the effect it had on us, just imagine what Zoe is going to feel when she is told the truth about her parentage this month- especially when she finds out who her father is as well!

"Keeping the truth hidden from Zoe has been really hard for Kat lately," explains Jessie Wallace, who plays the torn-apart temptress.  "In recent weeks we've seen her displaying an increasingly possessive side to her relationship with Zoe, which her sister can't understand.  The youngest Slater girl objects to Kat trying to tell her what to do because as far as she is aware, she is her sister and nothing else."

But with Kat becoming more and more overprotective of Zoe, the truth is bound to come out sooner or later.  And indeed it does, on October 1st, at Lynne's hen night.

"Being a Slater celebration, a fair bit of alcohol is consumed at the restaurant the girls go to," smiles Jessie.  "Kat gets quite emotional and keeps referring to Zoe as her little baby, which really winds her up- after all, Zoe doesn't understand why Kat is doing it.  Apart from that though, they are all having a really good time and Zoe decides that she might as well share her bit of good news with everyone- she's off to Minorca with uncle Harry.

"Kat sees red, there is no way that she is going to let Zoe go away with Harry as she knows exactly what he is like.  And as everyone is aware, she isn't one to bite her tongue so a bit of a scene ensues causing Zoe to run out of the restaurant with Kat following behind.  Zoe has had enough of her sister's interference in her life and she can't understand why she's so driven to stop her plans to go to Spain. It comes obvious to Kat that the only way she is going to be able to prevent Zoe is by finally telling her the shocking truth- that she is really her mother."

Once Kat has confessed however, she realises what a huge effect a revelation like this will have on the Slater family, but she also knows there is no turning back.  She decides that the only way to deal with it now is to be honest with her daughter and to let her know exactly how she's been made to feel over the last 17 years.

"Kat desperately wants Zoe to understand that she has always loved her," explains Jessie.  "She needs her to know how difficult it has been to pretend that they are merely sisters all these years and how hard it was to see her 'baby' brought up as her mother's own.  Zoe is understandably distraught and angry and each time they almost bond as mother and daughter, Zoe confronts Kat with another heartbreaking question- like whether she actually wanted her unborn child or not.  Kat can only respond truthfully which is the last thing Zoe wants to hear.  It's a roller-coaster of emotions for both of them."

Things are set to get much worse before they get better though, seeing as Kat still has the issue of Zoe's father to deal with.  And on 2nd October, she is forced to reveal the truth to her daughter- that Uncle Harry is more of a father figure than Zoe could have ever imagined.

"Kat tries to avoid the truth about Harry being Zoe's father as long as possible," explains Jessie.  "But when Zoe mentions going to Spain with him again, Kat knows she has no other choice.  She tells her the truth to stop her leaving with Harry, as she is worried that Zoe will suffer a similar ordeal to what she did all those years ago.

"Not only has Kat had to sacrifice being a mother to her child though, she has also had to  harbour a secret so horrendous that only she knew about it.  The only person she tried to tell was her late mother and even she passed her off as a liar.

"on top of that, Kat was isolated from the rest of the family who tried to cope with the embarrassment of her being pregnant at 13.  It was all treated with military precision by shipping Little Mo and Belinda off at the beginning then sending Kat to her aunt's to have the baby.  Her younger sisters were oblivious to it all.  Kat has basically had to cope with her secret since she became pregnant."

But Kat will be far from alone in her trauma from now on.  Once Zoe knows, she insists that Charlie is told the truth about his brother.  And once Charlie hears, it's not long before the whole family are told that Harry violated their sister.  However, even though everyone is now in on the truth, Kat finds she still has to cope with everything herself.

"Kat is desperate and more lonely than she has ever felt," reveals Jessie.  "She can no longer see a future for herself where she is loved and accepted by her own family and it is all to much to bear.  Kat needs to be comforted and to know that her family love her and support her through this, but it's such a massive shock for them that they don't quite know how to react.  She is in such a state that she even tries to end it all.

"You'll have to keep watching to see what happens next, but I can assure you that the whole family  is going to be thrown by this latest turn of events.  It's not only Kat who is suffering.  Charlie, Zoe and all the family are in pain, which make the next month of Eastenders even more moving for viewers to watch.

"This is a very emotional storyline about love- denied, wanted and unwanted- and how keeping such terrible secrets can only cause more pain for everybody in the end.  I can only hope that the Slaters can all pull together and help Kat through this one. She really is on the edge."


 

All About soap - Help is at hand

 

Jessie tells us that filming this storyline has been very challenging.  "It's a difficult subject  matter to tackle, but it has been written with so much compassion and I only hope I've done it credit.  We have worked closely with organisations such as the NSPCC to ensure it has been dealt with responsibly, and I've felt reassured by that."


Tuesday 25th - September

 

TVQuick magazine issue 40 - Kat's ordeal really got to me

 

Jessie Wallace, newly crowned as TVQuick’s best new actress, has the storyline of a lifetime to play in this week’s Eastenders.  We have all known for a while that Kat is really Zoe’s mum, but on Lynne’s hen night, the truth finally comes out and leads to events that have massive- as well as terrible- consequences for the family.

When Zoe tells Kat that she’s going to Minorca to work in her Uncle Harry’s bar, Kat is mortified and tries to stop her from leaving.  When Zoe says Kat’s not her mother and therefore can’t tell her what to do, Kat can only reply; ‘Yes I am.’ And not only that, Kat also revealed that Harry raped her as a teenager and he is Zoe’s father.

It’s dynamic stuff, with a week of episodes that have stretched the talented actress Jessie to her limits.  ‘Normally when I come off the set, I can forget about work,’ says Jessie.    I thought I’d be able to do that this time.  But when I went on holiday to Majorca for two weeks I realised how much it affected me.  Even though I had a great time, eating out at lovely restaurants and lazing on the beach, I couldn’t stop thinking about the characters and what had happened to them.’

Kat’s not only had to suffer the pain of wanting to be Zoe’s mum all these years, she’s had to endure the torment of another horrible secret.  She tried to tell her mum Viv, that Harry had attacked her, but Viv thought she was lying.  Kat, aged 13, was then cut off from her family as they tried to cover up the embarrassment of her pregnancy.  Little Mo and Belinda were sent away, and Kat went off to her aunts to have the baby, so they knew nothing of her secret.

‘I must admit, I did have an inkling that Harry might be Zoe’s dad, because whenever Harry comes into the room, Kat goes out.  When I found out about the storyline, I thought that it would be brilliant- really powerful.’

Jessie is very aware that as the storyline involves child abuse, it’s important to get things right.  ‘The Eastenders production team have worked with the NSPCC and other professional organisations to make sure everything is correct,’ she says.  ‘Kat has locked up all her emotions and feelings so deep inside for the past 18 years, and so when everything finally comes out, the episodes are very, very powerful.’

This amazing storyline shows just how important Kat Slater is in Eastenders, and what a huge star Jessie has become.  But, unlike in-yer-face Kat, she’s hugely modest about he impact she has made on our screens.  Jessie prefers to spend her days off just pottering around her new flat in Epping rather than attending swanky show-biz do’s- apart from the TVQuick awards of course!

‘When I first got my job on Eastenders, I went on a real shopping spree for clothes, but now I prefer to spend my money on my flat,’ Jessie confesses.  ‘I collect antiques and art deco pieces so I love going to auctions and antique shops.  My last purchase was a chandelier.  I collect them and I’ve got one for each room.  I’m not going to tell you where my favourite antique shop is- I don’t want anyone else snapping up a bargain I might want!’ she laughs.

‘My late nan, who was also called Jessie, got me into the style of the thirties and forties when we used to watch old films on the telly on Sunday afternoons, and she was so passionate that it rubbed off on me.’

Jessie’s very close to her family, and feels that her other grandma, Iris, would be a perfect member of the Eastenders cast.  ‘She’s a bit like Mo- very funny,’ she says.  ‘I was in a play at drama school, and in it, a character comes out into the audience and says, ‘Where’s my wallet?  It’s been stolen!  My nan’s there and says, ‘Well, I ain’t got it!’  I was laughing so much, I couldn’t carry on!  She’s a real Eastender, born in Bethnal Green, a great character.’

The actors who play the Slater family are equally as close, and Jessie’s been grateful that the whole clan joined the soap at the same time.  ‘It might have been a bit intimidating if it had just been me joining, as getting onto a show such as Eastenders is a pretty daunting experience,’ says Jessie.  ‘But now we’re almost like a real family, with Laila Morse like our real mum- I think she’s too young to be our gran!

And the girls who play my sisters are always together at work, always round each other’s houses having dinner and stuff.  However, we try not to live in each others pockets, as I think it would just make things too intense.’

Jessie, 29, has a stepsister called Danielle, and a sister Joanne, who has five children of her own.  ‘Elaine’s [Lynne Slater] mum is Irish, and she met Joanne recently and remarked, “Five children! Have you not got a television?”’ says Jessie with an enormous laugh and perfect Irish accent.

She continues: ‘My mum’s sisters are great fun, too, real East Londoners who love to go off on big beanos around Southend.  Do I go with them? No, they’re far too wild.’

But Jessie does like the odd night out on the town, though she’s aware that as her star is on the rise, there’s nothing that the paparazzi would like better than a picture of her looking daft.  ‘I was once snapped coming out of a club called Attica in the West End where a lot of the Eastenders cast go, and that picture keeps coming back to haunt me.

‘But leaving the Dorchester after the TVQuick awards- for which I’d really like to thank everyone who voted for me there were loads of photographers in front of me, all walking backwards hoping to get a shot of me doing something crazy.  They wouldn’t have, as I’d only had a couple of drinks.  One of the photographers tripped up and fell backwards, and I thought, “Ha! Now you know how it feels!”’

But as Jessie’s role playing Kat looks to make her an even bigger star, we’re sure that the snappers aren’t going to leave her alone for a long while yet…


Monday October 8th 

 Taken from Eastenders revealed - The cast's reaction to the introduction of Belinda

Laila Morse : On the hen night, when Belinda first came into it, I really felt for her.

Elaine Lordan : With the introduction of Belinda, I think we all felt for her, because we'd all been in it for a year now.

Leanne Lakey : The hen night was so daunting, I walked in there with this unbelieveable costume on, with a skirt up to there and a tiny little top. Seeing all these faces of people that I have grown up knowing. I was sitting there opposite Barbara Windsor, next to Pam St Clement, with all these huge characters sitting around me, I had to get drunk, I had to have a false accent, all these things at one time, I thought I was just going to blow!


 

 

October 10th

The Mirror - Another merry Christams

Trevor Rapes Mo - Mo Stabs Trevor - its another merry Christmas at Albert Square

Downtrodden Mo Slater will be at the centre of another miserable Christmas in Eastenders.  The cleaning lady, Played by Kacey Ainsworth, is raped by her violent lorry driver husband Trevor.

She tries to keep it a secret from her family but her rage boils over on New Years Eve and she stabs him.  An insider said:  "Little Mo has suffered for years thanks to Trevor's terrible temper and irrational jealousy.  His bullying and beating have stripped her of any self-esteem.  Every time he crawls back begging for forgiveness and she relents- to the disgust of the other Slaters.  But this time he has overstepped the mark."

The rape trauma is the latest in a long tradition of disastrous Albert Square family Christmases.  Thirty Million soap fans saw Dirty Den serve his wife Angie Watts with divorce papers in 1986 when she lied claiming she had six months to live.

In 1992 Pat Butcher was arrested after drunkenly mowing down a young girl in her cab.

Then last year Phil Mitchell seduced barmaid Mel resulting in a fight between her and his lover Lisa.

Kacey, 30, takes the responsibility of playing a battered wife seriously.  She has said:  "You have a responsibility to make it real.  I love Mo to bits.  I want her to get out of the situation but that might not happen."

Meanwhile, an Eastenders spokes-woman said yesterday that the report in The Sun that Ian Beale's wife Laura would be sexually assaulted was 'completely inaccurate'.


Monday 22nd October

Wild Kat: Naughtiest girl in school

Jessie Wallace ... in the West End
RELATED STORIES
Scott is fighting off girls
TOMORROW the hottest names on the box will be honoured at the Sun-sponsored National Television Awards.

And this week we will be bringing you their stories – starting with Jessie Wallace of EastEnders and Scott Wright of Corrie (see linked story above) – who are both up for the best newcomer gong. The star-studded event featuring all your telly favourites will be shown live on ITV1 from 8pm.

And don’t forget, you can still help choose the winners – and give yourself the chance of picking up a prize – by calling the special phone hotline on 09012 700600.

By GRANT ROLLINGS

LAST year EastEnders fan Jessie Wallace was working in an Essex pub and chatting to regulars about the soap’s plots as she pulled pints.

But within a few months she was STARRING in her favourite show — as a barmaid.

And Jessie’s powerful performances as Kat Slater have put her in line for the Best Newcomer gong at tomorrow’s Sun-sponsored National TV Awards.

Today the 30 year old earns £250,000 a year as the show’s new sex symbol after Tamzin Outhwaite decided to quit the soap.

It’s all a far cry from the days when she was a troublesome schoolgirl.

The actress misbehaved at both Ambrose Fleming and Kingsmead secondary schools in Enfield, Middlesex.

She confesses: “When I was younger I hated school and I got into a lot of trouble with our gang. I used to love setting fire to things.


Kat's my girl ... with Zoe in the show

“I was in the toilets one day having a cigarette and this girl came in who had all her hair backcombed with a ton of hair lacquer on it.

“I had a lighter in my hand and someone said to me, ‘I dare you.’ Mucking about, I just flicked it and her hair went ‘whoosh.’ I was mortified. Luckily we managed to quickly pat it out and she wasn’t hurt.”

One fellow pupil from Ambrose Fleming says: “I have fond memories of Jessie. I remember her and me got into trouble because we were fighting other girls in the teachers’ car park.”

Outside school Jessie was a wild child too. She got a tattoo on her thigh and tried to get her bellybutton pierced.

She says: “When I was about 16, I got this horrible design of pastel-coloured little flowers on my thigh. I’ve thought about getting it removed but I might just get another over it.

“Years ago I wanted my bellybutton pierced and I decided to go and see this dodgy geezer who did piercings and tattoos at home.

“Just as he was shoving the skewer into my bellybutton I realised he was drunk and then he fell to one side.

“It went in crooked so the hole is massive and all lop-sided.

“The skewer looked like a kebab stick. Maybe it was a kebab stick. It was really painful. I wouldn’t advise anyone else to do it.”

As if to prove that she is no luvvie, Jessie reveals that her hidden talent is being able to fit her WHOLE FIST in her mouth. She says: “I was mucking about with some mates one day and we all managed to do it.”

Jessie’s own beginnings were humble — her mother’s side of the family are real East Enders.

Her parents split when she was three. Her dad James raised her and elder sister Joanne, now 33, after their mother Annette left.


Acting up ... Kingsmead school where
Jessie admits misbehaving

Jessie says: “Dad was brilliant — he was both parents rolled into one. He worked flat out as a telecoms engineer, making sure we never went without.” Jessie left school aged 15 without any qualifications and went on to drift through various jobs.

She scraped a living cleaning toilets, then selling jewellery on a market stall in Greenwich, South London.

She lasted an hour when she went to work in a Benetton store and she also spent seven months working in bars in Portugal.

At the age of 21, Jessie decided to return to education, studying theatrical and media make-up at the College of North East London.

There was only one problem — she didn’t have the qualifications to get on the course. So in a move that Kat surely would have approved of, she told a “white lie” to get in.

Jessie became a successful make-up artist on such big West End shows as Mama Mia and The Lion King and also for the Royal Shakespeare Company.

But watching Joseph Fiennes on stage in Troilus And Cressida made her realise she wanted to be acting rather than working behind the scenes.

In 1998 she gained a place on an evening drama course at the Poor School in London.

A former teacher there admits he never suspected Jessie would become such a big star.

Paul Caistor says: “It wasn’t obvious to me that she was going to end up in EastEnders. But she had a very outgoing personality and it was clear that she was a very good actress.”

Jessie was very popular behind the bar at the Royal Oak pub in Loughton, Essex, where she worked when she was doing her college course.

Former landlady Karen Woodroof says: “She was with us for about a year and a half. She was very funny and used to make the customers laugh.

“She never lost her temper like Kat does in the show. And she didn’t dress as tarty as she does in EastEnders.”

Karen recalls that Jessie was a fan of EastEnders and used to talk about what had happened in the soap. She adds: “I am so proud of her.”

One pub regular says: “She looked exactly as she does in EastEnders. She wore really tight gear and all the lads in the pub really fancied her.”

Jessie still sees her mum Annette, who has now remarried.

And Mum has torn her off a strip for her outfits. Jessie says: “My mum told me off a few months ago when I did a photoshoot for Loaded magazine and was on the cover with my bra strap hanging down.”

Her father has also wed again and Jessie is good friends with her 18-year old stepsister Danielle.

But Jessie has no one special in her life at the moment. She was recently linked with millionaire businessman Paul Whitworth. But she insists the main love in her life is her shih tzu dog, Bailey, which she found at a rescue home.

It’s a long way from her Albert Square character. When Kat first arrived in EastEnders just over a year ago she was a loud, brash and fun maneater. Jessie’s portrayal has already won her the best newcomer prize at the National British Soap, TV Quick and Inside Soap awards.

Recently in the show it was revealed that Kat is really the mother of her “sister” Zoe (Michelle Ryan) after being raped as a child by her uncle.

Her moving performances could just help her grab our National TV title.

Jessie is a big fan of her telly character though she says she is nothing like her in real life.

She says: “Kat’s not like me at all. She does things I’d never dare do.

“Even so, I think Kat Slater is great. It’s brilliant the way she is so up-front with everybody and says exactly what she thinks all the time. I love her.”

And so do EastEnders fans, which is why we will be seeing a lot more of her in future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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