Ex-EastEnders actress Tracy-Ann Oberman has said that soaps are now attracting some of the best UK talent.
Amid claims by former soap alumnus Sarah Lancashire that soap stars are sometimes treated as second class performers by producers, Oberman said that the genre is no longer seen as a poor career option.
“Soaps have a high calibre of actors going into them nowadays and they are also a really good place for nurturing writing talent – writers like Tony Jordan and Sarah Phelps and Lucy Gannon have all worked on soaps among others,” Oberman told RadioTimes.com.
She added that her own role of Dirty Den’s wife – and eventual killer – Chrissie Watts in EastEnders was a real boost to her career.
Oberman who played the part for 18 months between 2004 and 2005 said: “Everybody told me it was a bad idea to go into EastEnders. A lot of people thought I was crazy for going into it.
“I had done a lot of roles in my career – for the National and the RSC as well as my own writing – so in a sense it was a cherry on the cake as much as anything for me.
“Perhaps I wasn’t in it long enough for any ‘damage’ but I got all the benefits. I was well received.”
She said that she doesn’t have time to watch the show regularly but believes that actor Danny Dyer has been very impressive on the show as Queen Vic landlord Mick Carter and new executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins has revived the soap.
Lancashire, who starred as barmaid Raquel Watts in the ITV soap Coronation Street for six years until 1996, attacked what she called the ludicrous prejudice against soap stars in a recent interview with Radio Times.
She claimed that the industry often doesn’t take performers from soap operas as seriously as those from other types of TV drama.
Oberman will be seen in Over to Bill, a BBC comedy pilot which airs tonight in BBC1 at 10.35pm.
She plays the exasperated wife of Bill, the central character played by Outnumbered actor Hugh Dennis who begins the show having just lost his job as a weatherman.