Exclusive Eastenders interview as Samantha Womack opens fete

EASTENDERS star Samantha Womack brought some star quality to town on Sunday, when she opened St John’s Hospice’s annual summer fete.

Tuesday, 16th August 2011, 9:21 am

The actress, who played Ronnie Mitchell until she left the show in July, spent two hours at the event in Moggerhanger, signing autographs and taking pictures with fans.

She said: “The hospice fills the gap between what the government can do to provide care for people at the end of their hospital time.

“St Johns is at the heart of this local community and it is important to support that.”

As well as Samantha, the event also had a World War Two theme, with military displays, and lindy hop dancers, and brought hundreds of people from across Beds.

The Sue Ryder charity is especially close to Samantha’s heart as she lost two of her friends to cancer who were very young.

She said: “It is wonderful and makes you feel good about your day. “It is important to keep grounded, you know, sometimes when I’m working you can get so sucked into the performance and your own nerves become your entire world.

“Especially sometimes it is nice to come out and meet people like today and it makes you feel so much more centred.”

Samantha also spoke about her feelings on leaving Eastenders.

She said: “It was sad leaving Ronnie behind, you get very close to people.

“I miss everyone, they were all lovely. It really is like a family there and always has been, but I still talk to them all still.

“I was there for four years and she was becoming as familiar to me as any other character I’ve ever played in my career because I was inside her skin, so I miss her.

“It is weird, like leaving a real person behind.”

The actress’ latest role is as Nellie Forbush in the acclaimed Lincoln Center production of South Pacific, and Samantha said she was happy with the change.

“I wanted my next project to be completely different because you can be too safe, doing the same thing all of the time,” she said.

“Although, in the first few weeks of rehearsal I was thinking ‘Why am I doing this, I’m terrified,’ but I think that is what life is about, taking challenges. For me it is about taking myself out of my comfort zone, because then you prove to yourself that you can do it.

“Otherwise you stay too safe and the older you get you get less confident.

“When you’re young you have an arrogance with you that you can do anything, but then you get older and you think, actually maybe I can’t do it.”

Hospice fundraiser Paula Priestley was delighted with the turn-out at the weekend event.

She said: “I have been here for 15 years and I have never seen the car park so busy, so early.

“A big thanks to Samantha.”