7 soap stars who slagged off their characters

Conor McMullan
Photo credit: BBC/ITV/Getty Images/DigitalSpy/AH / Lime Pictures

From Digital Spy

There's no denying that soaps inspire real passion from their viewers – and often that passion is accompanied by a rather vocal unrest when fans see something they don't like. Crazy plot twists, inconsistent characterisation and worst of all, disregard when it comes to the 'C' word – continuity.

However, what's more surprising is when the soap stars themselves decide to criticise their own characters and save fans the hassle. What causes these stars to do the unthinkable and rage against the soap machine? Have a look at some of those cast members who decided they could no longer toe the party line and spoke up...

1. Anne Charleston (Madge Bishop, Neighbours)

Photo credit: Fremantle Media

Ask anyone for the first thing that comes to mind about Madge and they'll probably tell you of their vivid memories of her croaking Harold's name on top of some rocks – and if you haven't re-enacted that, you're lying. But the second thing that comes to mind? Madge's fiery personality. Hot-headed, brash and never afraid to say what was on her mind, Madge is the iconic Aussie battleaxe.

That is, however, until her last few years on the show, where Madge's trademark strength was gradually whittled away, culminating in her tragic demise to cancer.

But proving she hadn't lost her own bite, Anne Charleston didn't mince her words on the matter: "They tried to mess around with Madge, and tried to make her into a bit of a wimp, really, a bit of a victim. I didn't enjoy it because I had spent all those years building up this wonderful strong woman and they tried to take her apart, brick by brick."

It wasn't all bad, though. Madge made a triumphant return in 2015 as a spritely ghost... or figment of Harold's imagination. We're not sure. Either way, she was back to her sassy best.

2. Samia Longchambon (Maria Connor, Coronation Street)

Photo credit: ITV

Affair storylines are the bread and butter of soap – everyone has one. Often, these plots get the nation talking and cement a character's iconic status. Just look at EastEnders with 'Sharongate' or the affair between Max and Stacey. Other times, the story can have a more damaging effect – as Samia Longchambon would tell you. And did.

Talking about her character's affair with Aidan Connor, boyfriend of Maria's best mate Eva, Samia didn't hold back: "Even I'm Team Eva. I think Maria is totally out of order and she needs to back off. Sometimes when I get my scripts I flick through them in utter frustration. I think, 'Why have I got to play this?'" For what it's worth, we were Team Eva too.

3. Jo Joyner (Tanya Branning, EastEnders)

Photo credit: Jack Barnes / BBC

On the other side of the soap affair coin, the wronged party – AKA the woman scorned – usually goes from strength to strength in the aftermath of such a plot. So surely Tanya Branning's character could only reach new heights after she won the nation's sympathy in the wake of that iconic 2007 Christmas Day episode?

She may well have, but Jo Joyner certainly didn't agree. Speaking before Tanya's departure in 2013, Jo labelled the character "selfish" and said: "It always amazes me when I get an introduction on telly as 'that feisty fantastic mum'. No, she's a terrible mum. There's nothing feisty about going back and back for more to a man and still never owning your business! No, I've lost all respect for her over the years."

Considering her lack of presence in her daughters' lives lately, it's hard to disagree, but to be honest, we'd consider burying your husband alive to be a more concerning matter.

4. Tamara Wall (Grace Black, Hollyoaks)

Photo credit: Lime Pictures

Arriving in 2013 to investigate the murder of sister and iconic Hollyoaks baddie Clare Devine, early reactions to Grace were terrible, to be frank. Like a version of her sister on steroids, Grace toddled into the village with a weekly supply of kidnappings, guns and a tiring run of one-dimensional evil behaviour.

By Tamara's own admission, Grace's face "like a slapped bum" was never going to win much affection from the viewers: "When I first came on screen, I just got constant abuse all the time on Twitter – they hated her. She was a megabitch, though! Obviously the fans have their favourite characters who they've loved for years, so when Grace came in and was being vile to all of them, they didn't like it and that went on for a long time."

Flashforward to 2017 and Grace is arguably one of the show's more popular characters, even if the megabitch comes out to play every now and then.

5. Michael Le Vell (Kevin Webster, Coronation Street)

Photo credit: ITV

Criticising your character is one thing, but issuing an ultimatum to your bosses? That's quite another, but that's what Michael Le Vell did at the height of his character's affair with Molly Dobbs in 2009.

Speaking at the time, he warned: "If Sally's cancer doesn't end the affair and Kevin's got no remorse towards her, then I'm leaving because I can't be putting up with it." And his criticism didn't end there: "I hope Kevin gives all of his backing to Sally, because if he doesn't, he's a bigger bastard than I thought he was."

It's fair to say not many viewers would have disagreed with your assessment there, Michael. Ultimately things worked out for the best – with Kevin and Sally's (permanent?) separation breathing new life into the characters and leading to Sally's great new partnership with Tim Metcalfe. Things worked out less well for poor Molly, mind you...

6. Harry Reid (Ben Mitchell, EastEnders)

Photo credit: BBC

Murder. Abuse. General day-to-day violent temperament. There's a lot to dislike about Ben Mitchell, but there's no denying that despite his past misdeeds, the character errs on the right side of redeemable.

Less easily convinced of that fact is the actor behind Ben, Harry Reid. Speaking in 2015, Harry labelled the character "a bit of an idiot" and admitted: "I've never asked the public to like Ben, because I don't like him myself. I think it'll take a few years and for Ben to do a few more loyal things for me to like him."

Time might be running out for Harry's opinion to turn around, as the news that Ben would be written out of the soap by new boss John Yorke was recently announced. However, as the results of our recent poll, and the petition to save him prove, there's a lot of love out of there for Ben – even if Harry doesn't believe the character always deserves it.

7. Kyal Marsh (Boyd Hoyland, Neighbours)

Photo credit: FremantleMedia Ltd/REX/Shutterstock

Viewers had watched Neighbours' Boyd Hoyland grow up before their very eyes. Steroids, a brain tumour, an unfortunate decision to experiment with dreadlocks – Boyd packed a lot into his relatively few years on the soap, but it was to be his final big story that really ticked off Kyal Marsh.

A slow burn affair story is one thing, but a one-night stand and off screen? Unforgivable. An opinion shared by Kyal himself: "I absolutely hated my character at the end. I couldn't believe what they made me do. I thought it was a stupid storyline and I copped a lot of flack over it. I was really upset. My contract didn't get renewed but I was pretty happy to leave by then."

That's that, then. Still, there's hope for Boyd yet. With his former stepmum Steph still in the show, maybe he could stop by the Flame Tree resort and redeem himself.

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