Danniella Westbrook has spoken about her short return to BBC one soap opera EastEnders for the demise of matriarch Peggy Mitchell, played by Dame Barbara Windsor.
Westbrook, who first appeared as Sam Mitchell on the long running east end saga in 1990, has told ITV’s Good Morning Britain that she only had a two week contract on EastEnders and worked her full contract following reports in a tabloid paper over the weekend that she had been axed early from the BBC Elstree production over unreasonable behavior – including alleged reports of turning up hours late for filming and wanting her boyfriend to be by her side during the recording shoots.
When asked by Piers Morgan whether she had been a ‘naughty girl’, Danniella said:
“According to the papers. No I just left work on Saturday. I was only contracted to do two weeks and that was that. My boyfriend drove me into work save me driving every day…. He actually works six days a week full time himself. He drove me to work Saturday morning so I didn’t have to drive myself.
Responding to reports that she was two hours late for work repeatedly. She said:
“Repeatedly? No I wasn’t repeatedly. I was one day, I broke down on the M25… I was contracted to do two weeks and I did exactly my contract.”
When asked whether she would have liked her contract to have been longer, she said:
“Of course I would have done. I was quite upset really I think at the time, because I think I, along with the general public, expected to work alongside Barbara [Windsor] and Ross [Kemp] and we don’t actually all do anything together at any one time.”
Danniella then revealed that she would like to work for Emmerdale. When asked whether she would like to return to EastEnders she said:
“I sort of would like to go back, there’s a bit of me that would because it’s comfortable for me, but my dream is to be in Emmerdale, that’s my dream. I’d love to be in Emmerdale, I’m a country girl. I would quite like to go and do something new and to be a different character, in a different soap. I’d love a bit of Dingle in my life. …I definitely wouldn’t be late if they gave me a Dingle to look after.”
Westbrook first quit EastEnders in 1993 but was lured back for two short stints in 1995 and 1999, however both returns saw her dropped from the serial early due to off screen issues, notably over drug use. In 2002 bosses on the soap re-cast the role with Kim Medcalf replacing Westbrook as Sam for nearly four years.
At the same time ITV’s Crossroads was said to have ‘lured’ the actress over to the Midland based motel saga, however Westbrook had to pull out at the last minute in order to undergo reconstructive surgery on her drug-damaged nose. It was reported at the time that surgery, over two operations, would be carried out on her septum to restore it following its destruction by her £400-a-day drug habit. Danniella was re-introduced to EastEnders as Sam Mitchell once more for a storyline in 2009 and has appeared a number of times briefly since.