As EastEnders viewers eagerly await the return of Bianca in tonight's episode, we catch up with actress Patsy Palmer, who reveals how her current life is now a world away from Albert Square...
What’s the view from your sofa?
My TV is on an art easel next to the fireplace, though I don’t watch much telly these days. On the other side I have a nice big window that looks out onto nature. I can see butterflies and rabbits and lizards, and that’s a bit more interesting.
Where are you living?
Malibu, California. Me and the kids [Charley, 27, Fenton, 18, Emilia, 17, and Bertie, eight] love it here.
That’s a long way from Walford…
Yeah, I’ve been here for five years. I moved for different reasons, mainly lifestyle, and ended up having a break [from acting] for a while. I’ve been DJing, which I love, and running a not-for-profit company. I host women’s networking breakfasts to raise money for homeless women.
Do you feel any pressure to look a certain way in LA?
God, no. It’s so chilled here. I go for a coffee in bare feet and I never wear make-up.
Do you think you’ll live there permanently?
This is my home now, but I like going back and forth. I was back in London over the summer and that was great, too.
That would be to film your return as Bianca in EastEnders…
Yeah, that’s right. The truth is they never usually ask people back for a short stint. So when they asked me, of course I said yes. EastEnders is always a wonderful experience. To go back just for a few weeks was a blessing.
Did you find it easy to slip back into character?
Yeah! It’s great fun being immature and getting back into her costumes. I noticed that Bianca’s puffa jackets and fluorescent leggings seem to be back in fashion in London, which is a bit worrying. Everything always comes around again: that’s a sign you’re getting old.
Will you get back into acting now you’re back in LA?
I think I will, but I have kids and it’s hard to juggle everything. There are only so many hours in the day.
I like presenting, too. I’ve been doing some films for Lorraine Kelly about the holistic and meditative things I’m into over here, and I’m really enjoying that – they’ll be on air soon.
Your son Charley Palmer Rothwell is also an actor now. Did you encourage him?
No, I was a typical mum: “Don’t do it! You can get a really good profession.” Luckily, he didn’t take my advice. He’s never out of work.
Can the kids remember what pie and mash is?
Probably not! I ate so much of it growing up, but I’m veggie now.
Do you watch telly as a family?
In the mornings we have Disney on for Bertie. We don’t watch much, but I loved After Life with Ricky Gervais. It was so funny and so sad.
What do you turn off?
The news. It’s so horrible here.
It’s not great here either…
That’s true. I don’t like it on at all, especially around Bertie. I don’t want to fill my mind with all the bad things happening in the world. I miss British TV. I miss the panel shows, the comedy. Sometimes I’ll watch an old Whose Line Is It Anyway? – it still makes me laugh.
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