EastEnders’ Gillian Taylforth teases 35th anniversary drama: “Things go from bad to worse”

The Beales get caught up in big drama

EastEnders Kathy Beale

EastEnders is gearing up for its huge 35th anniversary week as almost all characters will find themselves in danger from the disastrous boat party.

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As the celebrations get closer and closer, RadioTimes.com caught up with Kathy Beale star Gillian Taylforth about her role in the special episodes and her favourite memories from EastEnders.

How does it feel to be a part of the EastEnders 35th anniversary?

I’m very honoured. I’m so pleased to be part of it. Since I was there for the 5th, the 10th, the 15th… It’s definitely lovely to be back in it all. This will be my fifth year back with the show, so it’s lovely to be part of such a big event.

How can you tease your storyline in the 35th anniversary?

Well although I am not on the boat, it is fair to say Kathy is caught up in plenty of drama back in the Square. She’s think she has enough to deal with, with Bobby, but things go from bad to worse when she is caught in the crossfire between Ben and Sharon.

Can you remember your first day on set – how did it feel?

Very, very nerve-wracking. We’d all started new together. It was great, to think we were going to be part of such a big show. Julia Smith (co-creator) had said to us ‘you’re going to become household names’ and I went home and told my dad. He always wanted to keep my feet on the ground and replied, ‘so is Domestos’.

Did you know you were going to be part of something so special?

No I didn’t, it was all very new to me. I’d done various acting jobs before and then I always went back to my secretarial job. We were initially contracted on EastEnders for six months and we were all sat there saying to each other ‘what will you do afterwards’. Anita Dobson said she thought she’d go back to the stage if it didn’t work out. And I said ‘oh, I think I’ll have lost my typing speed!’

What is your favourite EastEnders memory?

One really happy memory that I have is from very early on in the series. Anita Dobson, Linda Davidson, Letitia Dean, Susan Tully, Sandy Ratcliffe – all the girls went out one night together and we all went back to Anita’s house and we had such great fun. We all stayed over and went into work together the next day and we were all talking about the night before – it’s a wonderful memory that I’ll always have.

Who is your all-time favourite EastEnders character?

I do love Dot, I think she’s an amazing character and June is extraordinary. And obviously, I love the character of Ian, my boy.

EastEnders Kathy Beale
EastEnders’ Kathy Beale

Why do you think soaps in general are still so popular? In an age of streaming and binge TV, what keeps fans coming back?

I think they are still so popular as the audience can relate to them, they cover so many topics and everyone always knows someone that has been through something similar. Also I think with soaps the audience are really comfortable with the characters, they watch them day in day out and they follow them all through their stories. And of course it’s EastEnders and there is so much drama going on all the time!

Most iconic EastEnders moment?

That’s incredibly tough as there’ve been so many wonderful moments over the years. Den serving Angie divorce papers – those sort of moments give you tingles.

If I was to choose an iconic moment for my own character, coming back for the 30th anniversary live episode was incredible and just saying those two words, ‘Hello Phil’. That was quite an amazing thing as it was so hush hush, I didn’t even tell my children. That, to me, was great.

What character would you play if you could play anyone else?

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Angie Watts was great, I loved that character so that would be brilliant to play. She was full of life.

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