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EastEnders gossip from Danny Dyer and Carter family - full Q&A

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The Carter Family

© BBC

The Carter Family


EastEnders' new Carter arrivals faced the media for the first time as a group this week as they attended a Christmas and New Year press event on the show's set.

As fans already know, film actor Danny Dyer has been cast in the part of Shirley Carter's brother Mick, who is moving into the Queen Vic with wife Linda (Kellie Bright), daughter Nancy (Maddy Hill) and son Johnny (Sam Strike).

Here, we reveal what Danny, Kellie, Maddy and Sam had to say as they discussed their roles and what's to come.

How does it feel to have joined EastEnders?
Danny: "It's very, very surreal. You know, when you're doing it, it's a different process to seeing it. To see yourself on the Square is a moment, it's a beautiful thing, I'm loving it."

Did you feel under pressure when you joined the show?
Kellie: "I think you put yourself under a lot of pressure, just generally as an actor. You want to come in and do the best that you can do. We've been given some really great material. That's where the pressure comes from, rather than anything outside of you."
Danny: "It's EastEnders, so of course it's pressure. Obviously the cast are already here, we're taking over The Vic and it's massive - you can't hide from it."
Kellie: "It's like hitting the ground running - like jumping on a rollercoaster that's in full motion. It doesn't slow down, it's definitely not going to stop, you just gotta jump in, get on the ride. It's amazing - everyone is very lovely and really welcoming. We're really lucky to have come in as a family."

The Carters arrive in the square.

© BBC

The Carters arrive in the square.


Every cast member on the show has a mentor. Who's looking after you?
Maddy: "Mine is Jessie Wallace - Kat. That was so mental for me - she was my idea of EastEnders when I was watching it most avidly, so I was like 'whaaaaaaat!'"
Kellie: "Rita Simons (Roxy) is mine - she's fabulous and brilliant and has obviously been behind the bar here and has been a great help. More than that, it's about having someone for me, who's also a mum, who understands all that thing about being a working mum. The hours are long here and she's been really great about all of that and has been very, very helpful."
Sam: "Mine is Jamie Borthwick (Jay) Jamie is very helpful - he's been accommodating and sort of gave me a call after my first meeting here to make sure I was feeling alright about everything."
Danny: "Mine is Shane Richie, but I don't see him to be honest! (Laughs.) He's lovely Shane, really lovely, but it is just more to show you around I think. When you first come here it's like being in a new school."

What can you tell us about your characters? Do you share any similarities with them?
Kellie: "Yes, there are definite similarities between me and Linda. Mick and Linda have been together since they were kids, real kids, and they've really grown up together. It's a weird thing when you've known someone your whole life - you're more than just husband and wife. You're something else. That whole relationship has been incredibly important and informative of who she is as an individual. She's the hot headed one of the two, I would say."
Danny: "She's a nightmare!"
Kellie: "I knew I would have to be careful of how I answered that! She's not a nightmare. She has a lot to cope with, she's got a big heart and she grew up in a pub."
Danny: "She's loveable."
Kellie: "She becomes friends with Sharon, who also grew up in a pub. She eats and breathes The Vic - it's her domain."

Are they good parents?
Sam: "Yeah, it's a tight family unit, definitely."
Maddy: "There are ups and downs, obviously, but it wouldn't be EastEnders if there wasn't."
Danny: "It's good coming together - it'd be a lot harder coming in on your own. We have come in, we've experienced things together. I think for me, the more you can make your character like yourself the better. There's nowhere to hide in this show - HD and all that! It's about being real I think. Even though we're acting, you can't pretend, you gotta try and get as much of yourself in there, it makes the job a bit easier."

Mick opens the doors of the Vic for the first time.

© BBC

Mick opens the doors of the Vic for the first time


Is Mick a nice person?
Danny: "He's just like a normal guy - loves his family, protective of them, a grafter. But there's definitely something there - just don't cross him."

We've heard that Mick will be seen in a pink dressing gown?
Danny: "He's quite in touch with his feminine side. He's got his dressing gown and keeps nicking Linda's dressing gown. We have a big row where she wants it back. It's showing a side to me that no-one has really seen before and that's why I was so interested in the role."

How would you describe the Mick and Linda relationship?
Kellie: "I'd say they're madly in love with each other, wouldn't you?"
Danny: "Passionate. Filth! Filth the pair of them! They've just got that thing, that lust between them."
Kellie: "That fire. There's fire there - there's a real fizz between them still. I think they're kind of tearing each other's heads off or tearing each other's clothes off."

Are they like Den and Angie?
Kellie: "No, I think Den and Angie were Den and Angie, and Mick and Linda are Mick and Linda."
Danny: "I've got a bit of the Butcher about me - I'm trying to bring a bit of Frank back!"

Tell us about the Carters' pet bulldog Lady Di.
Maddy: "Do you remember that first scene we did with her in the car? We were trying to pick up cues and everything but we couldn't hear anything because of the dog, who was sat in the back panting!"
Kellie: "She is a sweetheart, a real sweetheart. Everyone goes potty over her when she comes in. She's great, it's lovely to have a dog - I'm really pleased to have come in with a dog."

The Carter family in Albert Square. Nancy Carter (MADDY HILL), Johnny Carter (SAM STRIKE), Linda Carter (KELLIE BRIGHT), Mick Carter (DANNY DYER), Shirley Carter (LINDA HENRY), Tina Carter (LUISA BRADSHAW WHITE)

© BBC

The Carter Family


How did you prepare for scenes behind the bar? Did they give you any training?
Danny: "A little bit - how to pull pints and stuff. But I think it's just the general day to day stuff."
Kellie: "We all went to a pub."
Danny: "It's just keeping yourself busy in general. It's like anything - you've got to make sure you look like you live and work there. It's a stage. It's a little stage, and it's an honour because it's the hub of the show. Everyone comes in there and has their little business."

Have you worked with June Brown (Dot) yet?
Kellie: Yes, she's amazing. She's just an incredible woman. She's kind of the company royalty, she's just amazing and she's so good. You'd definitely keel over if you met June, there's no doubt about it. She's lovely and she's brilliant."
Danny: "It's harder doing it in the launderette with her, 'cause that's her little manor. When I had my scene in there I just could not get my nut round it. You're looking at her little face, and you're like 'There she is'. And she's grafting, she's 86 and she's so on it!"

Mick Carter meets Dot Branning

© BBC

Mick Carter meets Dot Branning


Kellie, this isn't your first time in EastEnders is it?
Kellie: "It was a long time ago. I was at Michelle's and Lofty's wedding in… I think it was '86. I was 10 and I was just a little girl at the wedding. I had to ask to go to the toilet and I sort of ran up the aisle and back again. I was talking to Tish Dean about it the other day actually."

Is it true that you've been offered a role before?
Kellie: "No. I was never offered a role. I have been up for numerous roles in EastEnders - the one that I got the closest to playing was Tanya Branning. I screen tested with Jake Wood, and it was between me and Jo. It wasn't my time."

Did you go for Melanie as well?
Kellie: "Oh I might have done! You know what, there have been quite a few! I might have done, but that's going back a bit. Obviously I remember reading with Jake. When I saw Jake here for the first time here, he just went 'Welcome back'."

Danny, did you nearly take a role as well?
Danny: "They've come to me a couple of times. The last time was going to be the Carl thing. I'm so glad - it wasn't the right time for me. I think it was a good path but there was no mileage in it."

So why now?
Danny: "Well I think it's the right time in my career and like I said, its an honour to come in and do what we're doing as a family and not come in as a character on the peripheries."
Kellie: "It would have been an obvious thing for Danny to come in and play the bad guy. It's much more interesting to have Danny come in as a family man. That's what's clever about it, it's nice for all of us."
Danny: "And it's just Mick's energy and stuff. I was sold within two minutes, you know?"

Tell us a bit about Nancy and Johnny.
Maddy: "Nancy is boisterous, a little more boisterous than me. She's a total tomboy and she's pretty good at sports."
Sam: "Johnny is quite an introvert. He's open and lively around his family because he trusts them, but he's by no means a lad. Even though he's close to his mum and his dad, he's closer to his mum in the sense that he was never the football kid. It's kind of a case where they like going to see musicals together and stuff."
Kellie: "He's the youngest as well, he's my baby."

Maddy Hill as Nancy Carter

© BBC

Maddy Hill as Nancy Carter

Sam Strike as Johnny Carter

© BBC

Sam Strike as Johnny Carter


Mick and Linda also have another son, don't they?
Kellie: "We've got an older son called Lee. He's in Afghanistan. We are yet to meet Lee."

Who are your favourite landlords and landladies of The Vic?
Kellie: "Well I've always said this and I stand by it, for me, it's Angie Watts. I think she epitomised for me, what a landlady is. The great thing about Anita Dobson was she was headstrong, but she had this incredible fragility and vulnerability about her that just made you love her. That for me is just what makes her so special."
Danny: "Frank Butcher, all day long. I loved everything about him, I loved the fact that he was a real east Londoner. He was a great actor, he was so funny, he just had a real great presence about him. Behind the bar, you believed it, and he had that warmth, so he was the one for me. I should say Den but it was always a bit of Frank really."

Apparently the Carters will be hosting a New Year's Eve Party…
Danny: "Well we've been told it's one of the best ever New Year's Eve episodes. It's up there, you know. It was early days for us as well, very early days. We were making our mark and stuff. We were straight in the deep end, with all the characters. We're entertaining them and it's a really strong episode - you're gonna love it."
Kellie: "It was great fun to film actually, it was good. We met a lot of people, you've got a lot of people in the pub, all the cast members. It's like being thrown in at the deep end, but it's good, it's really good."

How do you feel about Timothy West playing Mick's father Stan?
Danny: "He's a great actor - it's exciting. Also Annette Badland is playing Aunt Babe."
Kellie: "I'll also just say a little bit about Linda Henry and Luisa Bradshaw, who are also Carters. They have been so brilliant to work with. Linda obviously has been here quite a long time and she's just been the best to have around, she's so good."
Danny: "And Luisa, they're great."

Timothy West

© PA Images / Brian O'Sullivan/EMPICS Entertainment

Timothy West is playing Stan


Was it difficult to keep the roles secret before the announcement?
Danny: "We had to get it out; we had to do this press shot. The driver came to pick me up - she didn't have a clue who I was, she thought she was picking up Rylan… so not a good start to the day! (Laughs.) We got closer to the studio and then she said, 'Put your head down, we've got to tuck this blanket over you'. This was about three months ago. It was the first time I met Kellie as well. I bought the old woman with me, to keep her sweet, and I brought my little girl to show her around. Then we met and we sort of clicked."

Are you all going to be watching on Christmas Day?
Kellie: "Of course, I'm not in the Christmas Day episode - Danny is."
Danny: "I was thinking of watching a bit of Downton! (Laughs.) No, I'll be all over it!"
Kellie: You get to see Linda already next Thursday, the 19th, when Shirley and Tina come to our pub looking for Mick - but he's not there and I am. You get to see a little bit of me, and then he turns up on Christmas Day and then we all turn up on Boxing Day."
Danny: "It's a great entrance, a great entrance I tell you."

There's also some bad feeling in the family…
Kellie: "Linda and Shirley don't see eye-to-eye. It's brilliant to play."
Danny: "I'm constantly in the middle of it - they're constantly at each other's throats."

Are you excited or nervous about people seeing the new episodes?
Maddy: "All of it!"
Danny: "I think we've done our job - we're happy with what we've done. We've shot about 30 episodes, haven't we? So that's been intense, I'll tell you that now. We're at Valentine's Day now, so it's been a bit crazy for us. We've had our roast and Christmas. Now we have a real Christmas. It's very exciting to see what sort of reaction we're going to get, as actors we can't be any happier with what we've done."
Kellie: "Yeah exactly, you can only do what you can do. I just think everyone, not just us, is working really, really hard to make this show brilliant, and every day is like that and that's all you can do."

Additional reporting by Anthony Ball.

Read more EastEnders spoilers and news

EastEnders airs Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays on BBC One.

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