Queen Vic landlady Linda Carter has survived cancer, sexual assault and her husband being framed for murder, but her latest hard-hitting storyline which has seen her slowly battle a drink problem has been the most demanding yet for EastEnders actress Kellie Bright.
“It’s one of the most challenging things I’ve ever had to do,” admits the award-winning star, who celebrates six years in the role this festive season. “I’ve never really had to play being drunk consistently before, and obviously the turnaround on the show is so quick with the amount of scenes we’re working on – it was quite daunting.
“I felt chuffed and lucky to get this amazing storyline, but at the same time I was scared and nervous. I just had to do a lot of homework and preparation as to how drunk Linda had to be in a particular scene.”
Mick has tried to subtly encourage his missus to lay off the sauce, but as viewers will see in the run-up to Christmas she’s finding ways to carry on hitting the bottle and believes she doesn’t have a problem. “She is absolutely 100 per cent in denial,” sighs Bright. “I don’t think she believes she has a problem at all. She’s enjoying a drink and feels she’s only doing what everyone else does. She’s telling Mick it would look weird if she didn’t have a drink with the punters at Christmas.”
At Walford’s ‘alternative nativity’, Mick’s concern for L’s alcohol intake increases and he confides his worries in Sharon Mitchell, whose mum Angie eventually died as a result of her own booze issues.
Events come to a head on Christmas Eve when Linda gets properly plastered at dinner with Max Branning and Ruby Allen, leading to a blazing row with Mick witnessed by young son Ollie. “No parent feels good about arguing in front of their child,” continues Bright. “Of course that is the last thing Linda would ever want Ollie to see.”
Linda storms off and is last seen staggering around the Square gardens totally sozzled, then mysteriously disappears for a few days causing her family huge distress. When she resurfaces there is a question mark about her ‘lost Christmas’, and Bright warns the once the gaps are filled in fans will be stunned…
“What she does while under the influence of alcohol is pretty horrendous. You see a side to her that is unpredictable, dark and dangerous. Then on New Year’s Eve you think she really hits rock bottom – but there is more to come! What she does is unbelievable, when I got the script I was shocked. Mick is horrified and disgusted by her behaviour and can’t handle it. There is concern, but also anger.”
The pressure of Ollie’s autism diagnosis and Mick’s mental health problems are contributing factors to Linda’s meltdown, but more is set to be revealed that explains her descent into drink-fuelled despair.
“I can’t tell you why, but there is a reason that comes to light as to why she is so out of control,” teases Bright. “Basically it is the driving force behind Linda’s wheels falling off on New Year’s Eve – that’s why she is so on edge. For her to truly confront her problems, it would literally take Linda losing her family.”
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