EastEnders spoilers: Charlie's secrets to be exposed? Declan Bennett interview

DC Emma Summerhayes will cotton on to Charlie's lies in scenes to be shown next week

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EastEnders spoilers: Charlie's secrets to be exposed? Declan Bennett interview
Written By
David Brown

Charlie Cotton's secrets and lies look set to be exposed next week when DC Emma Summerhayes (Anna Acton) makes plans to arrest him for impersonating a policeman.

Mum Yvonne (Pauline McLynn) is obviously distressed and also fearful that Charlie's closeness to Dot (June Brown) will bring Nick back into their lives. Deciding that their best course of action is to flee, Yvonne tells Dot that Charlie has been transferred to Ireland. But can Charlie really bring himself to leave his grandma behind?

Here, actor Declan Bennett talks about his mysterious character, what it's like to share scenes with June Brown, whether Ronnie will be playing a part in Charlie's future, plus the return of Nick Cotton...

Is it  a relief that we’re now finding out more about what Charlie’s up to?
Definitely. It’s weird the way the soaps work. You film weeks in advance, so you find out things nobody else is going to find out for a long time. My first on-screen appearance was in March, so it’s nice that it’s all starting to blossom. And it’s been lovely getting to work with new people and integrate more into the Square. It was very focused on Charlie and Dot to begin with.

What’s it like working with June Brown – did you have to up your game when you arrived?
Oh, massively. I was s****ing myself! I was doing the musical Once when I got the part. June was adamant we met before we started filming, so she came to see the show. That was the first time I met her - she came to one of the matinees and it was surreal.

I was playing an Irish busker and then they brought her up on stage and I said, ‘Hello, I’m about to be your grandson!’ Thankfully, she loved the show but nothing prepares you for stepping on to Albert Square for the first time in character with cameras. It’s just the most surreal experience I’ve had in a long time.

Were you bracing yourself for hate mail from Dot’s fans?
Oh yeah! We were at the Soap Awards and Lionel Blair wandered up to me on the red carpet and said, “You leave Dot alone!”

When you got the part, did you know that Nick was coming back?
I had an inkling that would happen! Especially seeing as I going in playing Charlie Cotton and being a part of Dot and Nick’s family. They’re such big, iconic characters. You do feel a hell of a lot of responsibility and pressure. Hopefully I don’t mess it up.

Do you think Charlie could turn violent like his dad?
He's half and half. He has definitely got that side to him from Nick. But I think he’s spent a lot of his life trying to suppress it. He’s seen the negative effect it can have on family and friends and he doesn’t want to be that person. He’s been through a childhood where he had his mum, Yvonne, and this father figure who wasn’t around a lot of the time. But he struggles to suppress that darker side. I hope it comes out. It would be ace!

We know that Samantha Womack is back filming - what's happening between Charlie and Ronnie?
Yes, that storyline has been left a little bit hanging. Charlie had a thing with Ronnie. He thought it was all going really well and then she’s like, "I’m seeing someone else. See you later!" As far as he’s aware she’s gone and left him, never to be seen again.

So how will he react if he finds out that Ronnie is pregnant?
It depends on whether she says anything. She’s got quite a history herself, hasn’t she? So he’ll have to tread carefully.

Next week, we'll see Charlie's mum Yvonne wanting them both to flee - how does Charlie react to that?
He loves his mum more than anything. For most of his life it's just been him and her, with this other figure rearing his ugly head and causing problems. So he really wants to do the right thing by his mum, but now he would do almost anything for his grandma, Dot. So it becomes this battle of two strong females. They both want him in their lives, but his mum wants one thing but his grandma deserves another.

You're used to musical theatre - have you had to rein it in since you started work on EastEnders?
Massively! There was one point, in an early shoot, when one of the directors said, "Declan, June is sitting just there. You don’t need to shout!" I was like, I’m sorry, I thought there were 2,500 people out there. Why isn’t anyone clapping when we finish? It is weird, it’s a totally different ball game. This is my first actual TV. I’ve done some movie stuff, which again is different. So it took a while, but you do find your stride. 

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