Interview with EastEnders star Lucy Benjamin
PUBLISHED: 15:59 16 September 2010 | UPDATED: 17:50 20 February 2013
EastEnders star Lucy Benjamin has recently settled into life in Gidea Park and, as she tells Tessa Harris, is really warming to the role of an Essex girl
Lucy Benjamin is a busy girl. Perhaps most famous for performing the role of Lisa Fowler in EastEnders, she had the nation gripped during a celebrated storyline which saw her shoot on-screen lover Phil Mitchell.
As well as the release of a new film, Not Alone, coming out later this year Lucy is set for a short-term return to Albert Square after a seven year absence as her feud with Phil continues.
Im really looking forward to returning to EastEnders. It will be great to see some familiar faces and work alongside old friends again, Lucy explains.
But life for Lucy no longer revolves around the Old Vic. She moved to Gidea Park four-and-a-half years ago and has found West Essex very much to her liking. I love my litte chocolate box house, which is in an area called The Exhibition Estate in Gidea Park.
I also love my little girls school that she goes to shes so happy there. My husband is actually from East Ham, but his family relocated to Gidea Park. When we met I was living in North London and he was in Shenfield, so we decided to settle his way and nearer to his family. We actually met on an aeroplane five years ago it was the best flight of my life.
Born in Reading, Lucy lived in Berkshire while she was growing up. I remember my school days vividly: infant and junior school in Sandhurst and even then the drama lessons and school concerts were what I loved and formed a huge part of my life. Mrs Woodall from my primary school told my parents that I had drama talent and advised them to enrol me at the nearest theatre school for extra lessons. I also had a love of dance, starting at the tender age of nine with my friend Carolyn Keston (now Carolyn Mayling).
Through this friendship, Lucy has become involved in a charity called Rosies Rainbow Fund, of which Carolyn is a founder. I hadnt seen Carolyn for a few years and then we bumped into each other at a Child Bereavement Trust function and got chatting again like old times. When she told me about the fund I wanted to get involved and Carolyn invited me to be a patron. I jumped at the chance as Im such an admirer of the work the charity does.
Based in Maidenhead, Rosies Rainbow Fund helps to raise money for research into diseases that affect children, particularly respiratory diseases, and provides musical therapy for children in hospital. The charity has also funded several baby heart monitors for Queens Hospital in Romford due, in part, to Lucys involvement.
In the role of patron, Lucy has been able to make a big contribution to the fundraising efforts and awareness building of the charity.
Normally my input is to nominate Rosies Rainbow Fund for any programmes or shows that I appear on that have a charity element. I made two appearances on The Weakest Link, one of which I won. Ive also taken part in Ready Steady Cook and Family Fortunes. As well as the money, I like the fact that these programmes let viewers hear the name of the charity and perhaps then investigate what it is all about.
But the biggest joy for Lucy was winning The X Factor: Battle of the Stars. Winning X Factor was such a shock I loved it but was so nervous and it was a fantastic opportunity to raise a large amount for Rosies. I think my winnings were about 156,000, which the charity has used to help fund music therapy.
So will the lure of the spotlight tempt her to make an extended return to EastEnders? Gidea Park is close enough to the West End to be sociable, but far enough away to get away from it all with lots of greener countryside thrown in for good measure. I like being thought of as an Essex girl because in my eyes they are one of the most glamorous breeds of women who take lots of care of themselves although Im not sure I live up to that standard yet.
I think that a lot of people have pre-conceived ideas about Essex, which I did myself to be honest, but when you live here you realise its really not as bad as people make out and actually has rather a lot of lovely parts.
Lucy Benjamin at a glance
1970: Born in Reading, Lucy Jane Baker (she took her stage
name from her brother).
1983: A first acting role in Dr Who.
1995: Lucy appears in Bottom with Rik Mayall and Ade Edmondson.
1998 to 2003 Lucy plays Lisa Fowler in EastEnders. She was revealed as the person who shot her on-screen lover Phil Mitchell in one of the soaps most renowned storylines.
2006: She married businessman Richard Taggart and won The X Factor: Battle of the Stars. She also appeared in Kingdom with Stephen Fry and the BBC medical drama Doctors. Later that year she gave birth to her daughter, Bessie.
2008: She appeared on All Star Family Fortunes.
2009: Lucy took part in the ITV series Im a Celebrity
Get Me Out of Here!
To find out more about The
Rosie Rainbow Fund visit www.rosiesrainbowfund.co.uk