Soap stars are renowned for keeping everything above board when it comes to interviews with the press. Rarely do they speak out against the show they’re starring in, keeping producers and press officers happy and securing their jobs for another year come contract renewal day.
But every now and then actors will leave a soap and reveal what they really thought of their exits. Mostly their comments come from a passion for their character and are always harmless. But despite the fact honestly is usually the best policy, it must have got ever so slightly awkward for this lot when they slagged off their show, only to return years later…
1. Patsy Palmer (EastEnders)
Everyone knows that EastEnders is in Patsy Palmer’s DNA, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t had a few choice words about the soap over the years – and we couldn’t love her more for her honesty.
Talking about the show during an interview with This Morning in 2007 the actress said: “It’s rubbish at the moment. I don’t get to see loads of it – I don’t know a lot of the new characters. I am allowed to say that because I am a viewer now.” Patsy was also very quick to point out that she wouldn’t consider returning to the soap… “No, I’d never go back.”
But of course the lure of playing a legendary character like Bianca Jackson was too much, and Patsy was back on our screens just a year later. In 2012 the actress addressed the comments she’d previously made, saying: “I love EastEnders and I’m always honest when I talk about it. I made the mistake once of saying I thought it was rubbish at a particular time, but I don’t care. I am allowed to have an opinion.
“The show goes through phases of really brilliant storylines, then it has a bit of a wobble. But look how long it’s been going. The amount of stories they have to find is unbelievable.”
2. Sean Wilson (Coronation Street)
Talking about his now infamous exit from Coronation Street after 20 years of playing Martin Platt, Sean told This Is Nottingham: “The reason I left was because they wanted my character to have an affair with a 14-year-old schoolgirl. I said I didn’t like the idea of that, they said I was doing it, so I said, ‘Okay – I’ll get my coat’.
“I didn’t think they gave me as much respect as my 21 years on the show deserved. They would have to be very persuasive if they wanted me back.”
But earlier this year Sean found himself back on the cobbles as part of David Platt’s male rape storyline. He told the press that lots of things have changed since he was last on the show… “Things move on, especially in show business and the people that were in charge have moved on. They’ve all split and gone elsewhere.
“When this came around, I thought the scripts were ace, which I was pleasantly surprised with because Martin’s not been there for 12 years. I thought it might just take the writers a while to get to know the character again, but clearly not. There’s a real positiveness about the place and there’s been a real warmth from me.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better way to come back. I questioned myself before I walked into the building, but I’ve been really pleased with the way it’s all turned around.”
3. Pam St Clement (EastEnders)
Who could forget the heartbreaking episode of EastEnders that saw legendary Pat Butcher take her last breath? While the episode went down in Walford history as one of the most memorable, behind the scenes actress Pam St Clement wasn’t happy about the way her alter ego left the soap.
In 2015 Pam told The Mirror: “It was very, very difficult. I was saying goodbye to a character I’d inhabited for almost 26 years and, while I had chosen to leave EastEnders, I didn’t want Pat to die.”
But things got a bit awkward when Pam later told show bosses that she wanted to leave and they made the controversial decision to kill Pat off… “When I felt the time had come to hang up the earrings I took Brian Kirkwood, the then executive producer, out for dinner and broached the subject of leaving. One crucial thing I asked for was that Pat shouldn’t be killed off. Brian’s response was unequivocal. He assured me that Pat wouldn’t be axed.”
But when the time came for Pat to bow out of the show, things had changed: “Someone moved the goalposts. For the sake of a hard-hitting exit Pat would be ‘brown bread’. I went away feeling empty and let down.”
But as with all TV shows, producers come and go, and by the time Pam was asked back on the show as a ghost forBarbara Windsor’s exit as Peggy Mitchell, the actress thankfully agreed. Phew!
4. Stephanie Davis ( Hollyoaks)
Stephanie’s departure from Hollyoaks back in 2015 went down in soap history as being infamously abrupt. At the time her agent confirmed that she’d been axed from the show after five years of playing Sinead O’Connor, confirming she was leaving “following warnings for lateness, attendance and after a final incident in which she turned up to set unfit to work because of alcohol consumption”.
Fans weren’t happy with Sinead’s somewhat hurried exit from the show at the time, and neither was Stephanie. It later transpired that some of her exit scenes had been left on the cutting room floor. The actress Tweeted at the time: “Some of my best scenes cut… Can’t go out on a high I guess oh well” but quickly deleted the post.
But it seems despite her controversial exit three years ago, all has been forgiven as Hollyoaks bosses have decided to bring Sinead back, and Stephanie is currently filming at the soap as we speak.
5. Anne Charleston ( Neighbours)
Anne arrived in Ramsay Street in 1986 and quickly became the matriarch of the Ramsay Family, but despite the fact she was well-loved by Neighbours fans for being brilliantly strong-willed, the actress wasn’t happy about the way her character was portrayed by the time she left in 2001.
Anne said at the time: “They tried to mess around with Madge, and tried to make her into a bit of a wimp, really, a bit of a victim. I didn’t enjoy it because I had spent all those years building up this wonderful strong woman and they tried to take her apart, brick by brick.”
But Anne clearly still has a soft spot for the show as she made a triumphant return in 2015 as part of Neighbours‘ 30th anniversary celebrations. Despite the fact her character has died with husband Harold by her side 14 years earlier, the actress reprised her role as Madge by returning as a ghost.
6. Laila Morse (EastEnders)
Big Mo might be back on our screens as part of the big Slaters’ comeback, but let’s hope it is second time lucky for actress Laila Morse.
After 16 years on the show, Laila wasn’t happy about the way her character’s storylines fizzled out in 2016. The actress told The Sun at the time: “All of a sudden my character disappeared and I wasn’t in it any more, but I’ve never officially left the show – I’ve never had a leaving party or a present.
“People come up to me in the street everyday and ask why I’m not in EastEnders any more as Big Mo used to make people laugh. I still watch EastEnders, but it feels like all fun has gone. It used to make people laugh. It’s not like that anymore, it’s just not got the kick in it that it used to have.”
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