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'Enders Rainie teases this week's eps

By
Rainie Cross from EastEnders

© BBC

Phil and Rainie take centre stage in EastEnders this week as they turn to crack cocaine to block out their personal problems. The pair were drawn to each other in the middle of Albert Square after both hitting rock bottom in Friday's episode - and in the coming days they'll head down a destructive path together as Rainie stays at Phil's house. As they try to forget their respective family issues, the duo's main concern soon becomes where their next hit will come from. DS recently caught up with Rainie's portrayer Tanya Franks to discuss this week's episodes.

How did the return to EastEnders come about?
"I just received a telephone call - literally, just out of the blue. I hadn't been on it for a couple of years but they phoned up and asked me to come back in. It was a real surprise and I didn't expect it at all. I was told the storyline and was told the actors that I'd mostly be working with and was asked whether I'd like to do it. Fortunately, it fitted in with another job that I'm doing at the moment, so it was ideal."

Do you think that fans had been quite keen to see Rainie back?
"Well I did sometimes get stopped and asked whether I'd be coming back. Every once in a while, if someone recognised me in the street, they'd turn around and say, 'Are you going back in?' So I hope that some people will be happy about it - but I can't speak for everybody!"

Were you excited when you learned that you'd be working with Steve McFadden on such a big storyline?
"Yeah, I was! I like him and admire him as an actor. One thing that I always find really heartening about EastEnders is that the actors - even those who have been there for a long period of time - still have great integrity towards scripts, towards the work and towards their characters. They just want what is best for the show and really work hard. And Steve is one of the people who I include in that, after seeing the way he works. Once we started working together, it was obvious that we were going to be happy with our working relationship. I hope it's paid off."

Had you interacted with Steve much during your previous stints on the show?
"No, not at all! I don't think we'd even met before. It was the first time that we'd actually met each other when we started working on this storyline. It's quite a strange set-up, because if you're working with a certain family and your storyline doesn't cross over with anyone else's, you might not even meet the other actors. You're not there 24/7 and people are coming in for different days, or different times of the day, and they might be in a different studio, or out on location."

We saw Rainie get thrown out by Max in Friday's episode - what's her state of mind after that?
"Well I think that ultimately she has a drugs problem and that's going to be her mind's main focus, really. That's always going to be the thing that takes precedence with her. With this drug problem that she has, unfortunately it's never going to be the right scenario for her in that household as long as she's on drugs. She knows she risks that every time she goes back."

When this week's episodes begin, we see that Phil has brought Rainie back to his house. What happens next?
"It gets quite dark and dirty, really. Phil and Rainie are two people who meet at a point in their lives where they both see something equivalent in each other. He offers her something that she wants, and that is a place to be, while she has something that he wants, and that's drugs - so it's a match at that time."

Phil and Rainie become quite destructive influences on each other - but in better circumstances, and if they were both clean, do you think they'd make a good couple?
"Who knows?! Possibly. If they were both prepared to completely clean up then I suppose that is possible. I think that with anyone who has these kind of problems and addictions, if you take the step to want to move away from them, anything becomes possible."

Phil and Rainie have had a rock of crack and are in Phil's house blasting music.
EastEnders and Steve himself have done a lot of research for this drugs storyline - is that something you were involved in as well?
"Yes, EastEnders were very helpful with me on research for the addiction storyline. Even the first time I went into EastEnders, they were really good about bringing someone in to guide me through on heroin addiction - that was when I first went in three years ago. So yes, they're really helpful in that way and I was able to ask them for the help that I needed. I did my own research as well, but for any extras that I needed, I was able to ask them. Plus, a lady from the organisation DrugScope came in and she gave me a lot of advice."

Do you think that, as a result, the upcoming episodes see a very realistic portrayal of two people with drug problems?
"Yes, especially with the time of evening that it has to go out. Obviously you want it to be as realistic and believable as it can be because that's the character that you're playing. Obviously I'm always going to go for the truth of Rainie and I hope that comes across."

We see over the next week that Phil's addiction develops very quickly - was that a deliberate device to show the dangers of crack cocaine?
"Well I think, in that respect, it's probably quite a good depiction because, from what I understand, it is the kind of drug that you can take once and once you've taken it, there's a chance that you will want to take it again. It's not something that you can really try to see what it's like, you have to be prepared for the fact that if you try it, you could well want to be in that place again. The effects of it wear off quite quickly, which is what we were trying to portray through the episodes, so you have to have a hit again quite quickly. If you want to sustain a high, it leads to quite a repetitive situation and it can be quite a quick spiral downwards."

The next few episodes see Rainie experiencing immense highs and immense lows due to her addiction. Was it a challenge to film such a wide range of emotions?
"Absolutely. But you just have to get into the mindset really - you have to know that your mind is jumping all over the place. I just had to get into a place where my energies were in a different place than they would usually be as Tanya. Your mind has to work in a different way as you're playing someone with a continual want and only one focus, essentially - and that's where she's going to get her next hit."

What was it like to film the scene where Phil angrily pours whiskey over Rainie's face?
"I wouldn't say it was a pleasure! (Laughs) It wasn't real whiskey and that's one of the wonders of television, I guess. But I think that any scenes like that are quite disturbing to do, because it's not particularly nice having drink poured in your face in any situation! It isn't something that Rainie wants to happen and it's as much as a shock for her as it was for me!"

Surrounded by mess, Rainie struggles to peel herself off the floor. Phil realises the last rock has disappeared and orders Rainie to go get some more.
There are quite a few uncomfortable moments like that - do you think the storyline becomes quite dark, given the timeslot restrictions?
"Well I think they wanted to be quite brave with that, and I think it's quite an important storyline to have, because there are a lot of people who watch and it may be relevant to them, or someone in their family, or a friend. So I think that we wanted to be as brave as possible with it, within the restrictions of the timeslot. And I give credit to the director for that - for letting us go down a route where we could really explore the darker sides of it."

Is there any closure for Rainie at the end of this latest stint, and is there a chance we might see her again?
"You'll have to wait and see! I can't give anything away!"

What kind of impact would you like this storyline to have?
"Just that if there are people who have a drugs problem, or an addiction problem of any kind really, they might watch something like this and it could trigger something in their mind that is relevant to them, or someone that they know. Hopefully it could make people think twice about carrying on with that, and perhaps look into getting some help. The organisation that we worked with, DrugScope, gives a lot of help and advice for people with drug addictions. I think it can be hugely helpful when a show as popular as EastEnders does something like this."

Were you disappointed not to work with Jo Joyner this time around?
"Yeah, she's lovely! It's lovely working with Jo and I really enjoyed working with her before. But that's the nature of that kind of show - she's gone off and she's had a family and so she's not there at the moment. But at the same time, some of the other actors that I've worked with are also lovely."

And finally, what's next for you career-wise?
"Well, at the moment I'm actually filming a BBC One children's television show - a comedy show called Hotel Trubble. It's really crazy and couldn't be more opposite to Rainie if it possibly tried! I'm a new regular in that for two series."

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