Interview: Martine McCutcheon shares childhood memories of Morecambe

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GREG LAMBERT talks to MARTINE McCUTCHEON who will sing at Morecambe Carnival next month.

It's hard to believe that it's almost 20 years since Martine McCutcheon left EastEnders.

Martine McCutcheon with Greg Lambert, content editor of The Visitor and Lancaster Guardian

Martine McCutcheon with Greg Lambert, content editor of The Visitor and Lancaster Guardian

On New Year's Eve 1998, 22 million people tuned in to see her character Tiffany Mitchell killed off when she was hit by a car driven by Frank Butcher (played by Mike Reid).

Although the singer and actress has since gone on to further success starring as Prime Minister Hugh Grant's love interest in the smash hit romantic film Love Actually and playing Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady on the West End stage, Martine agrees that her EastEnders exit remains an iconic TV soap moment.

"It was quite controversial, how I found out that the character was being killed off," she said.

"Everybody was shocked that the character who was so popular was going to be gone. But the storyline was fantastic and it was really sensational, and because of that I went on to have the career that I had.

"Had I not have been killed off maybe I would have been a bit scared to do anything else and kind of gone back to where I knew. It made me take a chance and take a risk and I'm glad I did, because I would never have done the things that I have like My Fair Lady or Love Actually; any of these big dreams that I had, maybe I would have thought that I couldn't do them. So it was a blessing in disguise for sure."

Last year Martine was reunited with her EastEnders screen husband Ross Kemp (Grant Mitchell) when he appeared on daytime TV show Loose Women, where she is a panellist.

"I hadn't seen him in so long. He was always such a sweetheart to me. So was Barbara (Windsor) and the whole EastEnders team.

"There was something really lovely about starting out my more well-known acting career in EastEnders because everybody knew that you were (news)paper fodder when you were in that kind of show. I was very young and the older people really had your back and looked after you and helped you laugh at yourself, most importantly."

After leaving EastEnders, Martine enjoyed a successful pop music career. She had five Top 10 hits including a 1999 number one hit single 'Perfect Moment'.

Now she has returned to the music business after more than a decade away and she's delighted to be back.

"It's wonderful," she said.

"I think it's such a great industry to be involved in. I'm really grateful to still be able to do it. Music has become quite disposable, so for people to remember you and want you back is a lovely lovely feeling. It's been a really lovely vibe from everyone."

Martine has a new album coming out in August called 'Lost and Found' and her comeback single 'Say I'm Not Alone' has received constant airplay on major radio stations including BBC Radio 2 and The Bay.

She is looking forward to performing at Morecambe Carnival on Sunday, August 20 and performing in the town where she spent many happy times as a child.

"When I was a kid at Italia Conti's (Theatre Arts School in London) we had a lodger called Julia who came to live with us in East London.

"Her mum was a dance teacher and we would go to Morecambe for dance course weekends.

"Morecambe reminds me of my childhood and dancing and having fun times.

"So I'm excited. I've heard that tens of thousands can sometimes rock up to the carnival. Whatever the case, rain, sleet, snow or shine, I'll be there and we'll be giving people a great time. It's really exciting to share my new music with everybody, plug the album and everybody have fun at the same time."

Martine's album 'Lost and Found' is out on August 11. It's available to pre-order now.

Martine was talking to Greg Lambert at The Bay radio studio in Lancaster.