As far as ridiculous goes the BBC had it covered when Kate Harwood was allowed to axe the popular character of Kathy Beale-turned-Mitchell in EastEnders, only to introduce the most annoying child character in soap history for decades. However the actress behind Kathy – Gillian Taylforth – is ready to return to gritty drama, even if Kathy will never return to Walford.
The actress, who starred in EastEnders from its launch until 2000, was in talks to return to the soap opera when the character was killed-off – off-screen in 2006. Some suggest out of spite because the actress didn’t drop other commitments and come running back to the BBC as soon as they wanted.
At this time EastEnders was being attacked in the press far more than it ever had – and even seemed to beat Crossroads for critical abuse thrown at it – while the show suffered a creative lull and disastrous ratings – often being thrashed by rival soap Emmerdale.
The effects of this era seem to continue today, as any TV critic worth their salt avoids appearing on EastEnders Revealed like it’s a curse to a career. However, maybe Producer Kate Harwoods axing of Kathy proved to be a blessing not a curse for her career – the actress didn’t end up returning to the show during its crisis years and instead continued to prove popular as Jackie Pascoe-Webb in ITV’s glamorous comedy drama, Footballers Wives.
“I was surprised at the success of Footballers Wives. But then again it’s pure escapisim. When it first came out you could invite the girls around, have a couple of glasses of wine and really lose yourself for an hour. It wasn’t meant to tax the brain or to be moral or ethical about anything. It was just to sit and enjoy.” She told NCJ Media.
She also went on to prove herself a popular part of Thames Television’s cop-drama The Bill – this before ITV meddled with it of course. Gillian, who is touring in a stage play, Mum’s The Word, would love to get back into television drama. “EastEnders was fantastic, just like a family.
“It would be nice to go back into TV. I’d love to do something really nitty gritty like Spooks or Waking The Dead, that would be fantastic.”
Taylforth also revealed she has her eyes set on other forms of media too. “The other thing I’d love to do – and I suppose I could play a man or a woman because of my voice – is an animated thing… something like Shrek.”
In EastEnders Kathy was killed-off so they could introduce her son Ben Mitchell, who at the time lived abroad with his mother. After her death he was returned to father Phil, mores the pity.