Actress Michelle Collins almost played a different character in EastEnders before being cast as Cindy Beale.


The BBC One soap star has returned to her iconic role as Cindy after 25 years away from the show, having played the role from 1988 until 1990 and then from 1992 to 1998.

However, before she was cast as passionate market stall holder Cindy in 1988, Collins had previously auditioned for another role in the soap before it began, back in 1984.

Now, speaking to and other press about her comeback to EastEnders, Collins reminisced about her past history with the soap.

"Interestingly enough, I originally went up for the part of Mary the Punk when it was called E8 and I didn’t get that," revealed Collis.

The role of Mary Smith aka Mary the Punk went to actress Linda Davidson who played the role of the troubled single mother from 1985 until 1988, later reprising the role for guest appearances in 2019 and 2022.

Actress Linda Davidson pictured on the exterior set of the BBC soap opera 'EastEnders', November 21st 1984.
Actress Linda Davidson pictured on the exterior set of the BBC soap opera 'EastEnders', November 21st 1984. (Photo by Don Smith/Radio Times/Getty Images) Don Smith/Radio Times/Getty Images

Collins continued: "Then I was doing a drama for the BBC with Tony Holland and Bill Lyons, and Tony was the co-creator of the show. It was called Pressures and I was playing a motorbike dispatch rider, and what they didn’t know was that I couldn’t ride the bike so they used to push me in."

"Suddenly Tony said I think you’d be really great in EastEnders so I got an audition and I went to meet [EastEnders co-creator and executive producer] Julia [Smith]. It was only for eleven episodes and I thought the character was called Karina and the producer was called Cindy, but it was the other way round! I don’t think she was too happy when I called her Cindy!

"Julia was quite scary, she was a formidable woman and I’m so glad I got to work with her. They said we’d love you to do it and we’d love for you to go down to the set to meet everyone. And I said 'No I don’t think so, I don’t want to do that' because I wanted to speak to my agent first, but I was very excited and I loved the show. They did say that it’s for eleven episodes but there might be a chance of you staying."

More like this

Read More

However, Cindy proved to be popular with producers and they wanted the character to stay on longer-term, leading to romances with Simon "Wicksy" Wicks (Nick Berry) and his stepbrother Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt).

"When my contract was up my agent actually didn’t want me to stay because I was working quite a lot, and I said ''no I really want to stay as I feel this character is really progressing', so I did for quite a long time!

"I did lie about being able to ride a bike and Julia Smith gave me a bike when I came in. Julia soon realised I couldn’t ride the bike because I nearly run over Letitia Dean and Susan Tully and she said 'You can’t ride that bike can you?' to which I replied 'No' and she said 'Don’t lie to me, again'.(laughs)"

Well, luckily Cindy would stick around in the soap until she was convicted of conspiracy to murder Ian and died off-screen in 1998.

Or so it seemed...

Read more:

EastEnders airs Mondays to Thursdays at 7:30pm on BBC One and from 6am on BBC iPlayer. Visit our dedicated EastEnders page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers. If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide and Streaming Guide.


Try Radio Times magazine today and get 10 issues for only £10, PLUS a £10 John Lewis and Partners voucher delivered to your home – subscribe now. For more from the biggest stars in TV, listen to The Radio Times Podcast.