In a new interview with The Sun TV Mag, the actress reveals that she wanted to try her hand at some ‘normal’ jobs after working on the BBC soap from the age of 16.
“I just wanted to do something normal. I started on EastEnders when I was so young  that I hadn’t got to do any of the things my friends had. So when I left I thought ‘I’m going to go and do those now’.
“I worked as a painter and decorator – that was quite hard so I wouldn’t do that again. And I worked in an office but had no idea about admin.
“Then I worked in a clothes shop – Cream in Stanmore, London, which I loved. I’d been going there my whole life, so when they were a bit stuck for staff one day, I said I’d help out. I had a Saturday job and I was quite good at it.”
On what lured her back to EastEnders and her role as feisty rebel Stacey Branning, Lacey says:
“EastEnders is close to my heart, so when I was asked to come back I said I definitely definitely want to. When I was a kid I used to sell old granny jumpers on a market stall on the corner by the studios at Elstree [Hertfordshire, where the soap is filmed], I’d see the cast driving in and out and I’d see Jessie Wallace walking up the high street.
“I get people saying ‘Why have you gone back there?’ Because I love it. It’s right for me – some people want to go off and make movies, I just want to go and make EastEnders.”
Upcoming scenes in the BBC One soap show Stacey’s cousin Kat (Jessie Wallace) embark on a mission to track her down, after catching a brief glimpse of her whilst travelling on a bus. Kat eventually finds Stacey living in a plush flat in the city with latest boyfriend Luke played by Matt Willis.
Discussing the storyline, Lacey says:
“Stacey and Luke have been together for two years. He’s a nice normal hard-working man, the thing is Luke doesn’t know Stacey is a murderer, he doesn’t even know her real name as she’s created a new identity. Everything he’s been living with is a complete lie.”
Asked about a possible reunion with former father-in-law and lover Max Branning (Jake Wood), Lacey adds:
“You never know. Max is like an animal isn’t he? You can’t control him. I think Stacey will always love him. Not in a sexual way; he’s her friend [but] she’s easily persuaded by him.”
Watch a trailer for Stacey’s return below:
EastEnders airs Monday (8.00pm), Tuesday (7.30pm), Thursday (7.30pm) and Friday (8.00pm) on BBC One.