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Jane Slaughter (Tracey The Barmaid, 'EastEnders')

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Jane Slaughter (Tracey The Barmaid, 'EastEnders')
After nearly 25 years playing Tracey The Barmaid, EastEnders star Jane Slaughter celebrates being one of the only two original cast members still with the programme. An icon in her own right, Jane has become a staple in The Vic diet - no scene would be complete without The Silent Assassin's arm folding, glares across the bar or one-liners to The Mitchells. A strong-minded loyal character, Tracey came into her own in August 2008 when she broke her silence and launched into a monologue opposite Sean Slater about the Mitchells being "stark raving mad", before going on to explain how The Vic itself is "cursed". In a rare interview, Digital Spy chats to Jane about her two-and-a-half decades on the soap.

It's brilliant to hear you speak...
"I'd better get it in now - Tracey may not speak very much but I never draw breath!"

We hear you're a fan of Digital Spy...
"I'm so pleased - I want to thank everybody at Digital Spy and everybody who participates on the forums. People told me about it so I went on and looked and everybody has been such a champion and it really touches me. I'm just grateful that I've been given the chance to say how touched and pleased I am that so many people care so deeply about [Tracey]. I mean it - I'm very, very, very flattered!"

You've been in the show since day one and have become an icon in your own right. How does that feel?
"I'm just blown away really. I've been there for so long and I love it so much, the programme - I've got so much respect for it - and the fact that people regard me in that high esteem. I'm very flattered and moved by it. It sounds like I'm being over the top but I am [moved] that people care."

Did you think 25 years ago when you auditioned that you would still be in the show now?
"I was aware that they were hoping it would run and run. I was just delighted to be working with Julia [Smith] again and I'm very pleased that - even at that young age - I'd had a couple of good jobs a year. I recognised that EastEnders could run and be something very exciting. I never dreamed [that it would last] 25 years but I certainly knew it was special."

What's been your most memorable scene?
"For me as a character, it has to be Tracey speaking to Sean Slater. It was hysterical. For someone who never says anything, she suddenly had an opinion about everything, which I just loved. It was written by Christopher Reason and done so well. To get someone who only occasionally says things like 'out the back' and make what she says make sense - he did a fantastic job. That was very memorable because everyone was so supportive, including Barbara."

We learned quite a bit about Tracey in her monologue...
"I think that's why it was handled so well. What Christopher had done was echoed everything that everyone was saying to me in the street, which is fantastic. I love the fact that someone listened because it's the people in the street that watch."

Why do you think EastEnders has been so successful?
"I think it's incredible, the issues they tackle. I think they tackle them so brilliantly and with such respect. They do a fantastic job of addressing many issues that help young people, old people - everyone across the board. It's phenomenal. In terms of actually watching and seeing scenes, I've been lucky being in The Vic. I've seen so many good ones - with the Mitchells, with Phil, with Peggy - I've been very, very lucky to see so many, that it's nigh on impossible to single any out. They've all involved different people - I could go on and on and on!"

Do you think Tracey knows who killed Archie? Was she in The Vic that night?
"Tracey had actually walked out! I burned their Christmas dinner and walked out because Janine was being a pig."

Do you think that Tracey could have killed Archie?
"I wouldn't think she's that dark but who knows - she could be. I've heard there are odds at the bookies to be had for her but why? Why would she have killed him? Because he's threatening The Vic? Is it The Vic she protects or the family?"

Who would you like it to have been?
"I think they all make sense and that's the brilliant part. Any one of those characters has got a legitimate reason - well, as much as you can have to kill someone. I can see why Phil would have done it, why Peggy would have done it. And I can certainly see why Ronnie - I suppose the anguish and the most hurt and the most disgraceful behaviour would be to Ronnie. I would have to say Ronnie because she's been put through absolute hell by her father."

What was your reaction when you heard that Barbara was leaving?
"Very sad because I shall miss her. She looked out for me. On the day I had the scenes with Rob Kazinsky, she was running my lines with me. She's an icon - very professional and a lovely lady. I shall miss her very much. Having said that, it's her decision [to leave]. She works so hard and has a lot of storylines to carry, so I respect her decision. I think she'll leave a very big hole, although I have confidence in the programme [to go on beyond her exit]. She'll be missed from the second she leaves the building."

How long can you see yourself staying with the show?
"As long as they want me - and as long as I'm happy - which I am. I know it sounds really cliché but I love my work, I love going there and I love being part of the production. The day that I don't is the day that I'll probably go. Unless they want me gone before that!"

> Click here to read loads more from Jane Slaughter in Soap Scoop!

Additional reporting by Philippa Warr Get the Inside Soap magazine on your iPhone or iPad

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