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Meet Patsy Palmer...
Patsy Palmer with BBC Gloucestershire's John Rockley
Patsy Palmer with BBC Gloucestershire presenter John Rockley
Last updated: 26 March 2005 1309 GMT
linePatsy Palmer is perhaps best known for her scream of "Rick-eee" in EastEnders. But she 's now taken on a theatrical role that combines comedy, singing, and dancing...
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For six and a half years on Eastenders, Patsy Palmer became a household name as feisty young redhead Bianca. After leaving the popular soap, she went on to star in TV series like McCready and Daughter before moving into the theatre.

Patsy can currently be seen the lead role in Stepping Out - an award-winning comedy, written by Richard Harris, which revolves around the lives and loves of an assortment of ladies and one rather shy gentleman.

BBC Gloucestershire caught up with Patsy for a chat about her life and her current play, Stepping Out...

According to the press release from Stepping Out you're Britain's best loved actress. How does that feel?

Patsy Palmer

If only it were true! Funnily enough I get recognised all the time and I very rarely get people being horrible. People just want to give me a hug and say 'can I give you a kiss?' so it must be true. Maybe they've done their statistics. It's quite nice though.

Perhaps it's one of those things where you became an icon with the Eastenders thing...

Well I hope so, that'd be nice! I might be able to do something good if I've become an icon. Like Jamie Oliver, I'm very impressed with all this stuff [Jamie's Dinners] that he's doing at the moment. I do suppose it gives you that luxury that if you do become somebody that everyone knows then you can really get down and think 'what can I do to make a difference?. It must be fantastic to be able to do that.

Talking about food, when you're on tour do you tend to eat rubbish because you've got such limited time?

No. I'm quite lucky, I tend to stay in quite nice hotels. I'm quite lucky in that respect that I can do that. I love healthy food and it's true what they say - your state of mind is a whole lot better where you're eating proper food. It's such a big influence on the stuff we do, and especially for me working on Stepping Out because it's quite hard with the work that we do - you're using up so much energy, you're burning up so much nervous energy on stage as well, that if you're not eating the right stuff you become quite ill.

What attracted to the comedy Stepping Out?

I've been working in the theatre for the past two and a half years, and I've just finished a play in the West End called 'We Happy Few'. It was really great, it went on a short run - only six weeks - and I came out of that and said 'no more theatre for a while'. It was because of the kids and, because we were moving, they were settling into their new school. Then I was asked if I would do Stepping Out and I said no, I didn't even want to know what it was. It could have been Hollywood for all I cared - I was like 'no, I'm not doing it'. It was always in the back of my mind, am I doing the right thing?

Patsy Palmer

The time crept on and it was still there for me to do it. The kids were settling into school and it was kinda like 'oh, this is still there'. They came back to me and asked if I would like to do it, would you read it. I said okay I'll read it, I never saw the film.

Then a friend of mine called me - she was actually my understudy in 'Tell Me On A Sunday' - and asked me what I was up to. I told her I'd just turned down a job. She asked 'what is it?' and I said 'Stepping Out'. She told me it's hilarious. I though 'this is a sign' and she's phoned me out of the blue, and I haven't seen her for a while - maybe I should think about this.

I read the script, absolutely hilarious and I thought I really want to have a go of this. I hadn't tap-danced since I was a little kid.

What's the story of Stepping Out about?

It's about a girl who runs a dance class in a church hall in north London. Her name's Mavis Turner and from the story you see glimpses from the lives of the people who come to the class. There's all these wonderful, colourful characters who come to this class, and they come there for a bit of release. They have a really nice time, they're trying to learn to tap dance at the beginning and they're horrendous. It's hysterical.

Progressively they just get better and better. In the end they pull it off and get fantastic. The audience reaction is brilliant. The audience reaction in Cheltenham was one of the best in the run. They were with us the whole way through and it just bounces along. This show is for us as much as it is for the audience. The theatre just fills up, it's great - they really feel as though they're part of the class!

Tap dancing - was it difficult to get back into it?

Not really. We had only a couple of weeks rehearsal as you do with a Bill Kenwright show, he takes no prisoners. He knows what's he's doing and, funnily enough, it's always enough time. It's the right time because you've then got weeks and weeks to get better. It's amazing how much you pick up - like a sponge when you were a kid - because I didn't continue the tap dancing, I just stopped.

When did you first start wanting to act?

I was in Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat when I was six in the West End for three years. I fell into that by accident - I just went along with my brother, I wasn't meant to be in the audition and I ended up in the show, in the chorus. Then somebody told my Mum about a drama school in Islington. It was a drama school for parents who couldn't afford to send their kids to full-time stage school. We didn't have the money to do that. I went along there, waited a couple of years to get in, and still wanted to do it.

Bianca

My first TV was The Gentle Touch with Gill Gascoigne. Then I was in Grange Hill and just loads of other TV work too. That was how I thought actors work, - I really enjoyed my life as an actress, I had plenty of free time with my mates and I had a child quite young too so it gave me a little bit of money every now and then to go on holiday. That's what I thought life was about.

Eastenders turned everything completely on its head and it was a whole different experience. Six and a half years. I wouldn't change it for the world but there were certain things about it that I'm glad I saw then because in certain aspects I'm a lot happier now. I feel more grounded. I've got my family and work's just something that you do.

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