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Soaps Interview

Gemma Bissix (Clare Bates, 'EastEnders')

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Gemma Bissix (Clare Bates, 'EastEnders')
EastEnders actress Gemma Bissix bows out of the Walford--based soap in a couple of weeks' time when her character Clare Bates is left feeling isolated and unwanted by her closest friends and family. The former Hollyoaks actress finished filming at Elstree Studios last month, and last week we caught up with her to chat about her - albeit brief - return to her roots, Paul Bradley and what's in the pipeline for her in the coming months.

Do you think Clare really liked Bradley? Or was he just part of her big game?
"It was all part of a big game - to start with, at least. Clare's actually got a bit of a softer side to her and she does genuinely care for him."

Clare begins to doubt who she is doesn't she? We begin to see a glimmer of something nice in her…
"Dot's away the week prior to Clare's final week on the Square and Bradley finds Clare's little black book. When he turns against her, it turns into a bit of a drunken mission for her and she wrecks Dot's house. When Dot comes back, she finds her in a bit of a state and hands her a Christianity leaflet. She actually sits and tries to pray."

We only really ever scratched the surface with her, don't you think? There's still a lot we don't know about Clare.
"Oh, definitely. This isn't a closed chapter. At the end of the day, she's been outed off the Square and with the character she is, she doesn't even know what's going on in her own head. Someone like Clare doesn't stick around Walford unless there's a reason. I like to believe in what I do and believe in my characters. I'm not going to stay in a job for no reason. Clare would definitely leave in this situation."

Did you ever bump into Paul Bradley at Elstree?
"Yeah! On my first day. I took my mum with me, funnily enough. She used to chaperone me for the six years that I was with EastEnders before and we all sat in the canteen and had lunch like it was old times."

Do you think you ever left behind Hollyoaks character Clare Devine?
"A lot of people ask me this. Clare Bates is a minx and dresses to impress, using her sexuality to get where she wanted. You'll see in the next few weeks of episodes, though, that Clare Devine doesn't have the emotion Clare Bates does. Clare Devine kills people, she tells little children that they're the reason for their parents' death!"

Did you watch Max's death in Hollyoaks?
"Most definitely. It was very sad watching it. I went up to Liverpool earlier this month, funnily enough, and saw Matt [Littler]."

I read somewhere that you were planning on giving up acting in soaps now…
"Oh no, I didn't say that. If I've been quoted as saying that, I would have meant that I wasn't intending on appearing in another soap. There was talk of me going to The Bill but I wasn't planning on going down any more soap routes. I'm interested in doing one-off dramas."

So you wouldn't consider moving back up north to go back to Hollyoaks?
"I'd definitely go back to Hollyoaks if I were asked. I wouldn't rule it out. Even though Max (Matt Littler) has died, there's still the whole situation with Warren (Jamie Lomas) if and when him and Louise were to get married."

What have you been doing since you finished filming?
"I've got a couple of bits and pieces on the horizon. I've got an episode of Hotel Babylon coming up and I've got an episode of Britannia High, too - a musical drama series that Gary Barlow's written. They're not regular jobs, though, like EastEnders. I'm secure enough now, though, to take a few risks in what I do. I'd like to be able to try different avenues. As an actress, you live by your contract, so nothing's secure unless you have one." Get the Inside Soap magazine on your iPhone or iPad

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