It’s a shame I don’t have the physique of a natural athlete for I am so competitive, I would surely have a raft of gold medals and trophies by now. Scrabble, noughts and crosses, scissor/paper/stone – you name it, I have to win it. I am ashamed to say I even had to beat my kids at I Spy when they were little.
It’s a side of me I don’t like to show too often, but all was laid bare in Albert Square last Wednesday when members of the press were invited up for an event to publicise EastEnders’ fortcoming summer dramas.
We were divided into teams. I was a Butcher and paired with actress Tameka Empson who plays Kim Fox and Danny-Boy Hatchard who is Lee Carter. Tameka had just flown in from Jamaica and was seriously jeglagged. As I seemed to have the loudest voice, I was nominated team leader.
It was a treasure hunt with clues dotted around the Square – the first being Frank Butcher’s memorial plaque. There was no need to run, but of course I did. Apparently, according to Tameka, it was like watching Anneka Rice in action. Anneka on acid. With a bigger bum.
When our team made it to The Albert first, I was ready to cartwheel – until I was told that we were missing two clues. We’d finished too soon. By the time we completed the challenge properly, the Mitchells had beaten us to it. Isn’t that just typical? The Mitchells thrashing The Butchers, yet again.
The victors were given a miniature bust of the Queen Vic. I was smarting because Susan Hill from the Daily Star already has one – she won last year’s EastEnders pub quiz. Fix! Wail! #throwstoysoutofpram.
The wining team had five minutes with Dean Gaffney who is returning to the Square as Robbie Jackson as part of Carol’s storyline. As we came second, we were granted four minutes in the presence of the soap legend that is Dean. He’s changed a lot since he joined the show in 1993 as a gangly teen and some of us didn’t recognise him straight away when he appeared on the Albert balcony. Personally, I was hoping for David Essex, but hey, you can’t have all your childhood legends in one show. I’ll make do with Paul Nicholas – I had a poster of him on my wall in the 70s.
He featured in the gripping trailer we saw as Kathy Beale’s estranged husband Gavin, minus the curly mop he sported way back when. We also watched Ben Mitchell and Paul Coker romping at the funeral parlour next to a dead body in an open coffen.
‘It was a woman lying there. Obviously, she wasn’t really dead. I kept leaning in and apologizing to her in between takes,’ laughed Jonny Labey who plays Paul.
The show’s producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins stressed: ‘We are not shutting shop for summer. In the past EastEnders has done stories about camping in the summer, we are not. We are going to power our way through the summer, building everything for a very explosive September.’
Fantastic! All I need now is a Mojito and a lilo.