There’s no let-up in Soapland – we hear you’ve been filming a minibus smash?
Yes, and the night shoots were so tiring! So much so that at my daughter Emily’s 17th-birthday party recently, I fell asleep. Everyone just carried on partying around me.
Will Christmas be hectic, with two teenagers and a three-year-old in the house?
There were many Christmasses when I didn’t have any money, but I did the best I could. So the first time I could afford it, David and Emily were spoilt rotten – it was like a flipping toy shop in our living room! They’re not spoilt now. Polly is at an age where she sees things on the TV and says, “I’d like that.” But she won’t get everything! I love handing out the presents and watching their faces. That’s the big thing for me.
How has 2014 been for you?
It’s been eventful, all told. A bumpy start, but I’m a big believer in everything happening for a reason. Don’t get me wrong, things do get me down, but you have to pick yourself up and carry on. And now I’m happier than I’ve ever been [in January she was divorced from second husband Jamie Lomas, and is now in a relationship with personal trainer Dan Hooper]. I’m in a really good place.
Will your character Michelle Connor get back together with Steve McDonald?
Oh, it would be awful if I didn’t get to work with Simon Gregson again. It’s become a relationship of sorts. Not a physical one! But a real partnership. And he does make me laugh. We’ll be filming a scene and he’ll start doing something with his face. I’ll be thinking, “Don’t do that, Simon. That’s ridiculous!” We’re all a bit naughty on set, but he is probably more than most.
Do you hope that Steve’s mental health story will encourage others to speak out about their own problems?
Well, you look at a happy-go-lucky character like Steve and think that he’d be the least likely person to develop depression. And that’s the genius of it: anyone can have mental health problems. And what we’re now seeing is how that depression is affecting Steve’s relationships with everyone around him. What we’re hoping is that it will encourage people who feel the same way to go to the doctor and get help.