Johnny Carter is back from Italy with a new face – yes, actor Ted Reilly will make his debut on EastEnders next week, but don’t expect it to be all smiles for the Carter family. During his time overseas, Johnny has been kept in the dark about the rape trauma his mum Linda endured. But secrets are set to be exposed and Johnny will be seen pointing the finger of blame at dad Mick!
Here, Ted Reilly reveals all about Johnny’s return to the Square and what it was like for him to take over the role from Sam Strike…
So how does it feel to be stepping into someone else’s shoes and in such a big role?
Well I’m just relishing it really. Sam Strike had great storylines before me, but there’s so much more for the character to do so it is really exciting.
Have you seen much of what Sam did on screen?
Yeah, of course. When the Carters came into the show, everyone stood up and took notice and that scene where Johnny came out to Mick has got to be up there with some of the biggest in the show’s history. So I was familiar with them, yes.
Was it daunting?
Not really. It would be daunting if I was stepping in when there wasn’t much going on, but I feel there is so much for the character to do and ways for him to develop. So it wasn’t daunting for me, no.
What was your first day on set like?
I have been thrown in quite deep. From getting cast and starting, it all happened very quickly and it was a mad couple of weeks. But it was strangely good because I could concentrate on the work rather than all those outside worries. I was thrown straight in and I could focus on the work, which was good.
So how did you get the part?
I was actually in Elstree auditioning for Casualty and I have to say that the audition didn’t go that well. I came out and knew it could have gone better, but as I was making my way out I saw Julia Crampsie who casts EastEnders and who I know. We said hi and they were auditioning for the role of Johnny at the time, so I got a call to come in.
You auditioned with Danny Dyer and Kellie Bright – what was that like?
As soon as I did that audition, I thought ‘I really have to get this job’. They are two of the best British actors of their generation. Because EastEnders is so massive, I thought, ‘Could I do this? Could I step into it?’ and then as soon as I auditioned with them I knew I would be absolutely devastated if I didn’t get it.
Have you had any Carter nights out yet?
We have had some lunches together and I think we are all going to go out in a few weeks. Ever since I came in, they have really taken me under their wing.
So what’s happened between Johnny and Gianluca while he’s been in Italy?
Well, his relationship with Gianluca has come to an end – so it’s quite a sad state of affairs for Johnny. He’s had a fun time while he’s been away and he’s had some great experiences but the reason he went was for Gianluca and that hasn’t ended well.
So when he comes back home, what kind of state of mind is he in?
When you have a relationship break-up, you want your family around you and he has come back into the bosom of his family and he feels safe. Unfortunately, what has gone on in his absence really upsets him. He doesn’t know about what’s gone on with Dean. Linda hasn’t told him.
Why does he blame Mick for what has happened?
In Johnny’s eyes, Mick is this strong, patriarchal figure that has always kept the family together. He feels like this strong man hasn’t looked after the family, which of course isn’t the case. But he’s hurt and Mick is the person he blames for that.
Do you get to do many scenes with Maddy Hill before she leaves?
We have a couple of really nice scenes together. She was fantastic as well and ever since I came in, she has been a real help.
Is Johnny going to miss having his sister around?
Of course he’ll miss Nancy, but the relationship with Lee is quite strong and I think Danny-Boy Hatchard and I have really found a nice, brotherly relationship. And now, there’s also baby Ollie now who Johnny is really fond of. So there are more relationships for him to explore.
EastEnders is quite a life-changing role, so have Danny and Kellie given you any advice?
One of the best pieces of advice I have got from Danny was, “Your life might change somewhat and it’s going to be different for you, but whatever happens, remember why you’re here and focus on work”. I thought it was fantastic advice coming from someone who, despite being a fantastic actor, also has an element of celebrity as well.
What surprised you most about being on set?
It’s totally different to anything else I’ve been involved in. For me, as an actor, I have done stuff where you can spend a day doing two or three scenes and there is time to ease in. This is really fast paced and you have to do your homework – you have to work really hard at home and be prepared when you come in. You need to be able to be flexible and work quickly. It’s a fantastic experience and it’s really good when you’re a young actor.
Any chance of relationships on the Square – what about Ben?
Ben’s in a relationship at the moment, but Johnny’s potentially coming in at a time that could be crucial to Ben. I think Johnny’s words to Ben before he left about being himself are really going to come into play soon.
How do you feel about being famous?
I’ve not thought about it too much. I’m quite lucky in that I’ve had the same friends since school, so they’ll keep me fairly grounded. So fame’s not something I’d be interested in chasing – I just want to try my best for the show.
Who are your favourite EastEnders characters?
When I was growing up, the big family was the Mitchells. I have to say, I met Barbara Windsor the other day and I was starstruck – it was a bit much. But the Mitchells ran the pub, Phil was one of my favourite characters – he was a bit bad, but I sort of liked it. Back then, of course, they ran the pub, but now we do!
And have you compared notes with Sam Strike?
I haven’t spoken to Sam, no. Hopefully he still watches it…Actually, I should have said Sam Who?, shouldn’t I?
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