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Samantha Womack: 'I cried every day for two years at EastEnders'

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Ronnie Mitchell in EastEnders

© BBC

Samantha Womack has admitted that her EastEnders plots left her feeling exhausted.

The actress announced that she was leaving her role as Ronnie Mitchell earlier this year, at the peak of controversy over the baby swap storyline. Ahead of her final scenes being broadcast next week, Womack has said that she hopes to find "some peace".

"I worked out I'd been crying or screaming at work every day for six days a week for over two years," she told Hello. "Can you imagine how exhausting and tiring that is?

"You're crying, weeping and telling your brain something awful has happened, so of course that is going to affect you and your body. My brain may know I am acting, but my body was doing a different thing. I needed to stop and find some peace, a bit like Ronnie."

Since arriving on Albert Square, Womack's plots have included the return and death of her long-lost daughter Danielle, a miscarriage, admitting that she was raped by her father and the death of her newborn son James earlier this year.

Scenes which saw Ronnie switch James's body for Kat and Alfie Moon's son Tommy became the most complained about storyline in the BBC soap's history.

Ronnie goes back inside to await her sentencing. Will Ronnie go to prison?

© BBC


Womack's final scenes air next week as Ronnie discovers her fate in an hour-long episode.

"I didn't speak out because I didn't want to say the wrong thing at the wrong time and reignite the situation," Womack said of her silence at the time. "But now I think it's important to set the record straight and tell my side. I did find the storyline very difficult to play. It was draining emotionally and physically and by the end I was shattered.

"Unfortunately, because of the way television is going - and by that I don't just mean just soap, but reality and also drama - there is a massive consumer need for controversy and high-risk storylines. We may not like it, but the viewing figures go through the roof."

Since leaving Ronnie behind, Womack confessed that the first thing she did was chop of the blonde locks she now associates with the "most damaged character I've ever played".

"I wanted to look different," she said. "I had my hair cut shorter and went red. It felt liberating, especially walking down the street afterwards as nobody recognised me."

Executive producer Bryan Kirkwood recently said that the "much-loved and much-missed" actress would be welcomed back to the show "at any time in the future".

> 'EastEnders' Ronnie, Kat plot climax revealed? Get the Inside Soap magazine on your iPhone or iPad

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