When we last saw Bianca Butcher back in April of this year, she had debts coming out of her ears and had violated the terms of her probation by stealing a money belt from one of the market stalls. As Bianca was taken into custody, her family could only watch with tears in their eyes, knowing that she was headed back to prison. Next week, though, sees Bianca back in Walford having served out her sentence – so what’s in store for the put-upon mum as she returns to the Square? Actress Patsy Palmer gives us the details:
How has being in prison affected Bianca and has she changed much?
This time it’s affected her quite a bit, although she’s putting on a brave face. She’s not really enjoyed the experience – although not many people would! This time, it’s been different from the first time. Because of what happened, it wasn’t really her fault anyway.
She’s missed her kids and really found it difficult, but she probably wouldn’t think there was reason to change much. She’s a victim of her circumstances – she’s always tried to work and earn money.
What frame of mind is she in as she arrives home?
She gets a little job at Booty which gives her a boost, although she has a few problems in there with Lola. Derek helps her because he’s been in prison –she gets on with him, she’s probably one of the few people who does!
So does she have anyone else to whom she can turn?
She’s been maintaining this bravado, but nothing is as it seems. She’s just struggling. She’s finding it hard to slot back in and be normal – do the kids’ dinner, rush around trying to get work, while Carol’s there doing everything seemingly perfectly. She feels like she’s getting it a little bit wrong, which she isn’t, but that’s how she perceives it. But I’m sure the kids are still delighted to have her back.
And how does the work at Booty pan out?
It’s quite nice, because there’s a bit of comedy – Mr Lister comes in, and the last time she saw him he was getting her arrested. That’s the reason she can only work for tips because he’s reported her everywhere, so she can never get a job. So he comes in for a hair wash, which I think is quite funny. But it ends up being a nice thing because they end up bonding quite a bit.
Do you think she’s going to cut it as a beautician?
I think she’d be quite good. She’s learned it in prison so she’s giving it a go. Bianca usually gets the hard-hitting storylines, so it’s quite nice to do something a little bit light.
Lola is kind of her rival, but she’s young enough to be Bianca’s daughter. Bianca kind of knows that, so she’s not too harsh. But when it comes to the tips, Bianca reverts back to being a bit of child, really.
What will she make of all the drama going on with the ever-increasing number of Brannings?
It’s quite hard to keep up with it all, really! There are all these new characters who’ve come in, Bianca doesn’t really know Alice or Joey. But that’s what EastEnders is like, isn’t it? You get used to it – one minute you’re doing something then the next you’re doing something completely different.
So is it nice to get close to new members of the family?
I think it’s nice that Bianca’s chosen to get on with Derek. Carol’s got a bond with Derek even though it might be the greatest, but they still are quite close. And I think that Carol probably wouldn’t want her to know what went on in their past. It’s all a bit twisted and secret. I love the stuff I’ve had to do with Jamie Foreman. I only wish that we’d had more of it.