Nadia Sawalha has opened up about how difficult her time on Eastenders was, revealing she #wasn’t happy’ while starring in the soap opera.
The Loose Women panellist, who played Annie Palmer on Eastenders from 1997-1999 revealed that she had dreamt of a part on the show but it wasn’t all it cracked up to be.
She was at the start of her acting career and roles were still few and far between when she bagged a job on one of the biggest shows of the moment.
Nadia, 54, revealed: ‘For me it felt like life or death. They brought me back for a call back. I had to learn a piece and I had to be in Pat Butcher’s sitting room.
‘I imagined it was going to be enormous – it was tiny! I had to do this whole really dramatic acting piece to Pat Butcher’s empty chair with five cameras on me. I didn’t believe I’d get it. When I heard I got it, I was hysterical.’
However, things weren’t as glamorous as she had imagined them to be, as she explained in her Life Before Loose segment: ‘I was very lonely the whole time I was in there. I got incredible fame – all I’d ever wanted to be was rich and famous – within weeks I realised that’s not a thing.
‘From my perspective these people didn’t really like me and weren’t really friendly to me. But I think actually, with hindsight and maturity, I think they probably thought the same as me. I always felt I was nibbling round the edge of everything.
‘These people were mega stars who would go on a night out and girls would be running, screaming down the street. It was phenomenal, the fame they all had. To walk in The Vic on your first time with all the regulars there… I felt a bit uncool.’
She added that a comment from Steve McFadden, who played one of her on-screen love interests Phil Mitchell, stuck with her as he questioned whether his character would really date hers.
Nadia explained: ‘Steve actually said, “Why would I be going out with her?” I remember the director saying, “Have a look at her”.
‘Me, because I was so insecure, I was like, “Yeah why would he be going out with me?” I used to go home and I would drive myself crazy with what I thought people were thinking of me. I was just young and paranoid.’
She admitted that despite bagging the role she had dreamed of, she realised that fame and fortune isn’t rosy all the time.
‘I wasn’t happy at all when I was in EastEnders. I wasn’t happy.’ She added: ‘I was happy because I had some sort of success, but fame and money isn’t what you think it is.
‘I realised my dreams were quite shallow. I wanted to stay in but I also wanted to leave.’
Nadia ended up joining the Loose Women panel the same year she left Eastenders and has worked there until 2002, before rejoining the show in 2013.
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