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Soaps Interview

Tameka Empson (Kim Fox, 'EastEnders')

By
Kim Fox from EastEnders

© BBC

Having made a more-than-successful EastEnders debut in November last year for Denise and Lucas's wedding, actress and comedienne Tameka Empson - Kim Fox in the BBC flagship soap - returns to Walford next week in rather different circumstances. Hearing the tragic news that her sister Denise has committed suicide, Kim races back to the Square in a bid to comfort her nieces. We recently caught up with Tameka - who has the most infectious laugh ever - to hear all about her Walford return and what the future holds for Kim beyond her screen sister's demise.

You made quite an impression in such a short space of time back in November…
"I can't quite believe it really. When you do a job, you just want to make sure you do the best you can. I really enjoyed the wedding episodes and I finally got to work with people who I've always admired, so it was great to be 'in the mix'!"

How did your return come about?
"Once you do a show like EastEnders, you do a lot of praying that you'll go back! I got a call saying that they wanted me for a few more episodes and I said, 'Oh yeah!' So I did those - they were Jordan's welcome home party and the saucy underwear gathering. I'm in and out at the minute - will she stay or will she go? Cue the music!"

Are you anything like Kim in real life?
"(Laughs) People think I'm Kim! People say, 'That's you', and I say, 'How dare you?!' (Laughs). I like to have a good time but Kim's like ten times more full-on than me. Her outfits - I could only dream about wearing her outfits. The tighter the better for Kim! I like a bit of comfort and to be able to breathe."

You've been quoted as saying that Kim gets away with things you wouldn't normally get to do - what's the most outrageous thing you've filmed which is out of character for you?
"Going up to people and gyrating herself on them! And really getting in people's faces! I'm a really polite person but to go that far… Kim knows no bounds - she feels no shame. Kim's very feminine and she's all about 'the look' and pampering herself. Actually, that's one thing I like to do, pamper myself. People who know me know that every Thursday it's my three Bs - Bath, Baileys and bed. All after EastEnders, mind. That keeps me young."

Is EastEnders a show you've always wanted to work on?
"Always! Always, always! It's funny because I was speaking to a friend of mine the other week and we were talking about how things are evolving in my life and she reminded me about a time when we were younger and me saying, 'I'd love to be in EastEnders'. And a few years down the line, here I am! EastEnders is a major machine. I just like to know that I'm adding to it, rather than taking anything away or falling short. Jake Wood said to me when I first arrived, 'You have to hit the floor running'. It's all come at the right time when I'm really ready for it."

How many people did you know before you started work on EastEnders?
"I knew Linda Henry, we worked together on Beautiful Thing! When I heard that I was going into EastEnders, I couldn't wait to work with her again. I'd really love to do a scene with Shirley actually. Denise introduced Kim and Shirley briefly at the wedding and there was this scowling 'I don't like her' look across the room… And I knew Di Parish, Rudolph Walker and Don Gilet from before, too. Don's a very funny guy and seeing him play Lucas is just scary! Filming for Denise's funeral, I went into TV mode and just stared at him! He's so intense playing Lucas and then when the scene cuts, he's all jokey!"

Is there anyone else you'd like to have scenes with?
"June Brown and Barbara Windsor! Even if I'm in the background running or something, that'd be my scene! I'd love to say. 'Get out of her pub!'"

Why is Kim usually so downbeat with her sister Denise?
"It's not as much downbeat, it's the fact that Denise has changed. Denise isn't the same Denise that Kim grew up with. Back in the day, they used to go out partying and somehow, because of their lives apart, Denise has changed. She has responsibilities and a husband now. That's the difference between Kim and Denise - Kim doesn't have any commitments. Kim's still enjoying the fun side of life, whereas Denise has had to grow up and pipe down! They're total opposites, but they're Foxes by blood…"

How does Kim find out that Denise is dead?
"Kim's not actually there and she gets a call. She turns up on the Square again to help and be there for her nieces. That's her re-entry into the family as she needs to step up to the plate now Denise has gone. Kim tries to get on with it and not to get down about it - she knows she has to move on with the family and hold it together for them as a mother figure. And when she sees Lucas and Patrick not doing what they should be doing for the family, she pulls them up on it."

Kim's been quite suspicious of Lucas - what is it about the man that she's not certain of?
"She's never liked Lucas - she never thought he was good enough for Denise, even when they were younger. Now, more so than ever because he's a preacher, every time Lucas looks at Kim, he can't stand her. At one point, I thought, 'Oh my God! They've brought me back to kill me off!' She's constantly in his face but the thing that saves her is that she's Denise's sister. But then he kills Denise, so anything's possible!"

Have you been given Lucas's death stare yet?
"Yes! That's happened. You see it on TV but when you get 'the look' in real life, it's pretty scary! I put him in a headlock, though. As Tameka and Don, not Kim and Lucas!"

Does she think Lucas has had anything to do with Denise's death?
"No - she's just really confused as to why Denise has taken her own life. Kim hates Lucas but it'd never cross her mind that Lucas could have murdered her."

Why does Kim hide her emotional side?
"As much as Kim puts on a façade, though, she is vulnerable."

How does Denise's funeral pan out for Kim?
"Kim's in complete denial. There are tears, but Kim tries to hold it together. She's not a bawling and wailing woman at Denise's graveside - she keeps that for her private time. Being there is just disbelief to her - the words aren't registering." Get the Inside Soap magazine on your iPhone or iPad

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