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Soaps Interview

Rita Simons (Roxy Mitchell, 'EastEnders')

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Roxy Mitchell from EastEnders

© BBC

Roxy Mitchell faces a tricky task in next week's episodes of EastEnders as she tries to get Ronnie's legal case back on track. When she hears that Ronnie has sacked her solicitor because she doesn't want to be released from prison, Roxy pays her a visit and declares that she must start fighting for her freedom. After hiring a new lawyer for her sister, Roxy attempts to get Jack to join her in supporting Ronnie, but he's still fighting demons of his own. With a reluctant Ronnie and an anguished Jack on her hands, Roxy has her work cut out as she tries to take control of a terrible situation - can she prove herself? Rita Simons, who plays Roxy, recently chatted to Digital Spy about the storyline and her character's future.

How is Roxy feeling after everything that Ronnie has done?
"She's basically very confused. On the one hand, Roxy is very loyal towards her sister despite her mistakes and I think, these days, she'll back Ronnie no matter what she does. But at the same time, I think she's finding it very hard to come to terms with what Ronnie has done on this occasion. Roxy is quite a moral person, and obviously what Ronnie did was mega, mega wrong. So Roxy is battling loyalty against morals all the way through. But ultimately, I think it's loyalty that wins through."

Do you think this is the most testing time yet for Roxy and Ronnie's relationship?
"Yeah, I think it's definitely among the hardest times. I think having to accept that Archie had raped Ronnie was also a very testing time for Roxy, and the two sisters have had various other testing times during their time on the show. But this one is definitely up there."

Roxy pleads with her, telling Ronnie that she will get her a new solicitor but Ronnie is adamant that she should stay inside.
As Roxy visited Ronnie on the night that James died, does she wish she'd done anything differently?
"Oh yeah, she totally blames herself. She now thinks, 'Oh my God, I left you to go gallivanting with Christian when you obviously needed help'. So now she's really tearing herself up about it because she thinks that it's her fault."

We'll see Roxy become quite involved in Ronnie's legal case, won't we?
"We will - she hires a new lawyer for Ronnie after hearing that she's sacked her last solicitor because she doesn't want to be released. We'll also see her talking to Jack about the case and trying to get him involved. Roxy just wants to get her sister out of prison - that's all she wants. She can see that Jack is falling apart and she can't bear to see that, so she thinks that if Ronnie comes out, Jack will start to pull himself together."

Do you think we're seeing a new side of Roxy as she's having to take control of the situation?
"Yeah, I think this is definitely the start of her growing up, which is nice to see! It's definitely the start of her standing on her own two feet. Whether or not she'll make a pig's ear of it remains to be seen, but it's definitely a transition for her."

Glenda was never the best mother, but does part of Roxy wish that she was around during this difficult time?
"I think Roxy probably wishes she had a decent mother with her! If anything, I think she actually wishes that her aunty Peggy was around, as she absolutely hates her mother. But I don't think she misses Glenda at all - it's definitely Peggy that she wishes was there."

As the storyline moves forward, do you think Ronnie can be redeemed?
"I'm not sure but I don't think so. At the moment Ronnie doesn't want to be, and obviously Sam is leaving, but who knows?"

Roxy pleads with her, telling Ronnie that she will get her a new solicitor but Ronnie is adamant that she should stay inside.
We've often heard about how you and Sam Womack have a real laugh on set, but is the atmosphere any different when you're filming these really heavy scenes?
"No, not really. When we're doing all of the heavy stuff, we both know how the other likes to work - I know how she works, she knows how I work and we give each other our faith. Generally though, we have always laughed together since we started working together - it's the way we work together. It's nice and it's always been that way."

It's sometimes been noted that Ronnie has seemed more like a mother to Roxy than a sister. How do you think Roxy will cope without her around later this year?
"I think it'll continue the period of transition for Roxy. When Ronnie isn't around, Roxy is going to have to be more independent. I think ever since James was born, Ronnie hasn't been a mother figure to Roxy at all because she's had her own problems, and Roxy has been the one mothering Ronnie throughout the whole thing. I think Roxy has had a lot of practice to prepare her for when Ronnie leaves, and she definitely hasn't had anyone looking after her for a long time."

So many characters connected to Roxy have either left or are leaving EastEnders, so are you interested to see where they take the character next?
"Oh God, yeah! Well, luckily we've had the arrival of Michael Moon, who Roxy is now with, and I'm loving working with Steve John Shepherd because he's a brilliant actor. So it's nice for me to have a bit of variety. It's always nice to have variety as an actress, but now that everyone's leaving, the character has no choice but to interact with other people. So far, I've had such great stuff with Steve that you haven't seen on screen yet, and I'm really looking forward to seeing where else it's going to go..."

> Read more EastEnders chat from Rita Simons in Soap Scoop Get the Inside Soap magazine on your iPhone or iPad

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