EastEnders star Tilly Keeper on Louise Mitchell’s showdown with Abi Branning – “She has a nose for mischief”

The actress also reveals the secrets of sharing scenes with Steve McFadden

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So Louise Mitchell is back and causing no end of mischief – from a spending spree on dad Phil’s credit card to a confrontation with Abi Branning over her fake pregnancy scam. Yes, Louise is going to discover the truth about Abi’s attempt to deceive Ben and will waste no time in taking control of the situation. But what does this mean for an on-the-ropes Abi?

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Here, actress Tilly Keeper tells us more about what lies ahead for muck-raking Louise, how it feels to have Steve McFadden as an on-screen dad and why she’s looking forward to having scenes with Mitchell matriarch Barbara Windsor…

So what’s coming up for Louise – will she be getting into lots of trouble?
Yeah, from what I’ve filmed she’s always in trouble. I think she’s just waiting to see who her next victim is. She’s planted the seed with Abi, so she wants to see how far she can push her and Ben. Louise has a nose for mischief. She’s bored, she has not started school yet, she has got to do something, so she might as well annoy Abi Branning!

She’s even going to mess with her own dad a little bit. Anyone who crosses her path, really. Anyone who doesn’t fall for her little bright-eyed, puppy dog face is going to feel her wrath. 

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What drives her?
I think it’s an attention thing. She grew up being shared between her parents and not knowing if Phil ever wanted her. And so by acting up and lashing out at people, that’s her way of saying that she needs help or she just needs a hug. She hasn’t been hugged yet. 

What about romance – could anyone be a match for her?
I don’t think anyone would be able to handle her, to be honest. I think she’s got her eye on a few people, but she probably thinks they’re a bit out of her league. And I think she wants to cement her place as the It Girl of Walford before she selects her prey of men. 

Will she make any friends?
I wouldn’t say they’re friends, more like colleagues. It’s anyone who’s gullible enough to do what Louise tells them to do. But I think there’s going to be a growing friendship between her and Bex Fowler which will be really nice. When Louise was born she was Louise Fowler in order to avoid the Mitchell gene. So I think that’s really nice.

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Who’s taken you under their wing?
Harry Reid [Ben] and Jamie Borthwick [Jay] are like my older brothers now. They’ve really looked after me from the word go. Steve McFadden [Phil] has too. And I’m really good friends with Jasmine Armfield who plays Bex because we’re about the same age. Everyone’s been so welcoming and chatty. You can’t shut me up, I love a chat, I’ll talk to anyone. I just sit in the green room all day and talk to people. 

We love watching Steve McFadden do drunk acting. Is it strange to watch a perfectly sober actor suddenly deliver a great drunken performance? 
It is. He really gets into the character. He’s very method in his ways, he gets into the zone. Playing alongside it breaks my heart. He’s just unreal, it’s so fantastic. And the scenes I’ve had with him where he is broken down and in that drunken state are heartbreaking to watch. And I’m meant to be stand-offish and moody and suddenly Steve’s just wallowing in his self-pity as Phil. I do get a little bit choked up, to be honest. And then I have to remember that I’m supposed to be a horrible teenage girl. 

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It’s a high profile time for the Mitchells – are you excited by the prospect of working with Barbara Windsor and Ross Kemp?
I am so excited. I met Barbara the other day and she was absolutely weeny. So small. I have never felt taller in my entire life. I am just so excited. Being Peggy Mitchell’s granddaughter is quite a title in itself – it’s just going to be lovely and I know Louise adores and idolises Peggy. And I’m like that with Barbara – she is so cool and I want to be like her. So it’s really exciting to have all the Mitchells together. I couldn’t ask for a better thing – I’ve been here for about a month and suddenly they’re like, ‘We’re going to throw all the Mitchells back in.’

Are there any actors in your family?
Not really, my dad’s a massive show off. So he loves to sing and he used to be one of the writers for Spitting Image [writer Peter Keeper]. We’ve always had that kind of vibe in our family. My cousins are actors, but my brothers are graphic designers. I’m the show-off of the family, really. I’m the youngest and the only girl. 

Are you as bold as Louise is?
No. If I was Louise’s age and I went to her school she would bully me. I am so not Louise. When I was 14 I was really small. I was the smallest in my class, I wore braces and I went to a dance school. So I was a bit geeky. Louise is not like that!

You can watch a 60-second rundown of next week’s episodes of EastEnders below.

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