Poor Sylvie Carter met her maker on tonight’s EastEnders, electrocuted while taking a bath at the Queen Vic. Her death is bound to have an impact on a devastated Tina, who was looking after her ailing mum at the time of her demise. So what can fans expect to see as the loss of Sylvie takes its toll? Here, actress Linda Marlowe reveals all about her Walford exit and teases the future for Tina:
So, how have you found playing Sylvie?
It has been a wonderful role. It’s a gift for an actress to get a role like that, with so much depth of different behaviour at different times. Also, to have done it for two-and-a-half years – I’ve never played the same character for so long. There were so many layers and that was a really great role to play.
Had you done any research into dementia to help you play the part?
I’d done some research back before I got the role because there was a one-woman show I had intended to do about somebody with dementia, and I visited this beautiful home down in Cornwall. I was there for three days spending time with the residents. It was a wonderful bit of research I’d done, not knowing that later I was going to be playing Sylvie.
I also had a friend with vascular dementia and he died while I was actually filming EastEnders. He was a dear friend of mine and for many years of his illness he used to fiddle with things, touch a piece of cloth or a blanket, and his hands were constantly moving. So there were lots of things I had observed from people with dementia.
What was it like filming your final scenes?
Well, for Sylvie she was happy at the end. She was with the dog, singing to the music and having a bath. So for me to film them they were probably the happiest moments for Sylvie that I’ve had to film.
What sort of reaction have you had from viewers to your portrayal of Sylvie?
The unbelievably extraordinary thing I’ve had is the huge amount of people that stop me in the street, and just how young they are, more so than adults. Girls and boys tell me they absolutely love the character and have rushed after me to say I’ve helped them because their nan is like Sylvie, and they love their nan so much and it makes them feel alright because it’s done so beautifully. They say Sylvie makes them understand because it reminds them of their own life.
How will Tina cope with Sylvie’s death?
I think Tina will be devastated – she will feel completely guilty because she was trying to deal with her mum and look after her. She didn’t have any help and she was having to leave Sylvie alone, and that’s what she was avoiding. Tina finally knew she had to get her into a home, but left it just that bit too late. I think it’ll have a tremendous impact on Tina.
What have been your fondest memories from filming?
I loved the day Linda [Henry, plays Shirley Carter], Luisa [Bradshaw-White] and I were stuck on the tube together recently. We had such fun, but the supporting artists were looking at us in astonishment – we were only doing what was in the scene, but they didn’t quite know what was happening. That will go down as a really happy experience.
Another lovely memory is working with Annette Badland [Babe], back when Sylvie was in the home and she thought Babe was her mother. Babe slapped her and Sylvie bit her back, and you could see all the pain in Babe and the pain of being her sister. They were good scenes to film.
Also, a fond memory will be overall how immensely friendly and supportive the rest of the other actors around me have been. It can be strange when you’re a recurring character as you’re not there all the time, but they always made me feel incredibly welcome and were pleased to see me.
The whole process of playing Sylvie and being in that environment will be very much missed by me, and very much a happy memory in my career.
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