Lacey Turner has been busy in her years away from EastEnders, what with a tour of duty in Afghanistan as soldier Molly Dawes in Our Girl, a role in Being Human and a guest spot on Sunday’s Call the Midwife. But for the 25-year-old actress, there really is no place on earth like Albert Square.
“It’s like when you’ve been on a long journey and you think, ‘thank God I’m home,’” she says of her upcoming return as Stacey Branning. “I grew up watching EastEnders and I always wanted to be in it. I can remember telling my mum when I was about eight, ‘I could do that!’. And then it actually happened.”
Little did she realise that when she made her debut in 2004, there’d be six years of mental illness, murder and illicit affairs ahead for her character Stacey. “When I started, I was told, ‘her name is Stacey and she arrives on the Tube’. And that was it!” she laughs.
The high point of her original tenure came in February 2010 when it was revealed, live on national TV during EastEnders’s 25th anniversary episode, that Stacey was the one to have murdered evil Archie Mitchell (Larry Lamb). In the closing seconds, Turner’s screen husband Bradley (Charlie Clements) met his death trying to protect Stacey from the police. And by the end of the year, Stacey herself was gone, having fled the country to avoid capture.
“I had a great time exploring how other places work,” the actress says of her post EastEnders career. “Everything is a lot slower and there’s a lot more rehearsal time. But I prefer the way we do things at EastEnders: doing 14 scenes a day and working at a pace. That works better for me. But I know there are talented people that have done TV their whole life and who then come here and find it difficult because it is so fast paced.”
In an upcoming episode, viewers will see Stacey make her return when Kat Moon (Jessie Wallace) spies her from the top deck of a bus. Exact details of their eventual reunion are being kept under wraps, but Turner admits that nerves almost got the better of her when she appeared on set for the first time in over three years:
“Before I started filming again, I was pacing around my flat thinking, ‘what if I’ve forgotten what she’s like?’ Then I got to work and I was shaking doing my first scene. But after that, it was OK because Stacey just sort of came out! It helped that my first scenes were with Jessie Wallace and Shane Richie. We always have such a laugh and Shane’s so funny.”