West End star Maria Friedman is to make her EastEnders debut next week playing Elaine Peacock, the mother of Linda Carter. Upcoming scenes will see Mick (Danny Dyer) call Elaine after he grows worried about Linda’s behaviour. Little does he realise, though, that his partner has suffered a horrific rape at the hands of Dean Wicks.
When Elaine arrives, she tries to get her daughter to open up, but struggles to get through to her – can Linda tell the truth about what has happened? And what would Elaine do to Dean were she to discover what he’s done? Here, Maria Friedman reveals what it was like arriving in Albert Square and why Elaine isn’t a woman to be messed with…
Can you tell us what Elaine is like?
She’s a powerhouse. She is a woman who has run things on her own for many, many years and she is full of love and laughter. She loves to sing, she loves to laugh. She has a huge heart and an amazing life force.
What does Mick say when he calls her up?
He says, “I need your help, I can’t get Linda to tell me what’s going on, she’s not herself and she looks really depressed.’ Elaine and Mick are very close.
What about her relationship with Linda?
They are very close. Linda’s dad died, so Elaine was widowed early in her marriage. Linda has got everything Elaine wanted; a great marriage, wonderful children and she is beautiful and capable and I think Elaine feels very proud of her.
There is also a feeling of, ‘I wish I’d had a bit of what she had”. There’s no animosity or bitchiness, but there is a slight competitiveness. She feels like she is more like Linda’s sister than her mother. She is very protective of her and if the chips are down, she would be there for her in a shot.
So what does Elaine think when she sees Linda?
She can see something is wrong. Initially, she thinks it’s marital problems, but then realises it is something more. She notices that there is a difference with Linda when Dean is in the pub, so she is very suspicious about that.
Does Elaine try and talk to Linda?
Absolutely. Linda would normally tell her mum about any problems, so Elaine is wondering why Linda can’t tell her. She knows something is really wrong. Linda sort of ducks and dives, she almost tells her and then doesn’t. Elaine is thinking, ‘What is going on here?’
What would she do if she found out what Dean did?
Elaine is not afraid of anything, so she would confront Dean.
So how have you found your EastEnders experience?
I was terrified on the first day. I came back shattered and thinking it was the most terrifying thing ever. You have to learn so quickly. But my screen family were so gentle, kind, funny and warm. I couldn’t have been made more welcome by my Carter family.
Do you watch the show?
Anita Dobson is one of my very best friends, so I was an absolute addict years ago. But when you are in the theatre you don’t watch any soap because you’re working when it’s on. The great thing is about soap, though, is that when you tune back in again, it is addictive. I am watching all the time now.
Is the door open for Elaine to return?
Possibly. She has certainly got lots of things about her. She has a very rich past. There is a lot to play with but who knows if she’ll be back?
What was it like filming in the Queen Vic?
It was hilarious and fun – you are walking into this iconic place with all these people sitting round. I just wanted to pinch myself – I so wanted my family and my husband to be there watching me. I was like, ‘What am I doing in here?’ I enjoyed it so much. The Carter family, each one of them, are so friendly. It really felt very natural. I would be thrilled to come back.