8 soap stars who were brutally honest about their shows

Daniel Kilkelly
Photo credit: BBC/Channel 5 / Getty Images

From Digital Spy

Soap stars tend to toe the party line in interviews as much as possible. It stops the producers from getting annoyed, keeps the press office happy and avoids any sensational headlines. All well and good… but also pretty dull.

Fortunately, just to keep things interesting, not everyone is quite so diplomatic. Here, we're celebrating 8 soap stars who weren't afraid to be brutally honest about the shows they work on. It's only because they cared, though!

1. Danny Dyer: 'EastEnders has been pony for months' (2017)

Photo credit: BBC

EastEnders had a rough time from soap critics and viewers alike last year. Max Branning's long and drawn-out revenge storyline led to frustration all round, while some episodes had nothing happening apart from missed bin collections and Kim Fox fretting over her driving theory test.

Leading man Danny Dyer kept schtum for most of the year, but when executive consultant John Yorke arrived on a mission to restore the show to its former glory, the bad boy of Soapland clearly felt he could finally be honest.

Speaking in a TV interview, Danny confessed: "We have had a bit of a rough time. We have been pony for a few months. The other soaps have overtook us. Corrie and Emmerdale, they have had a good little run. We are a sleeping giant and it's going to go off."

And if you're scratching your head over what on earth Danny was on about, "pony and trap" is Cockney rhyming slang for "crap".

2. Stefan Dennis: 'Paul Robinson's Neighbours storylines were ridiculous' (2013)

Photo credit: Channel 5

As the only remaining original cast member left in Neighbours, Stefan Dennis – aka bad boy Paul Robinson – probably feels he can speak out without risking losing his job. So when Stefan reflected on some of Paul's past storylines in a 2013 interview, he wasn't afraid to admit that some of them had been way too OTT.

"When I came back into the show, the way Paul's stories continued, just got more and more ridiculous," Stefan confessed.

"In any other show they probably would have worked, but when you realise it's a show about suburban Australia – it got a bit big. It got a little caricatured. Paul's got away with grand arson and murder."

Stefan's comments referred to Paul's villainous 2005 and 2006 plots, which saw him return to Erinsborough after an 11-year absence and cause chaos. The writers also clearly realised they'd gone too far, writing in a brain tumour for Paul to hastily explain away his extreme behaviour.

3. Beverley Callard: 'Some Coronation Street cast members are moaners' (2015)

Photo credit: ITV

Coronation Street legend Beverley Callard (Liz McDonald) is one of our favourite ever soap stars – not least because she wasn't afraid to break from the usual boring cliches about life on a soap set when we caught up with her in 2015.

While stars usually harp on about the shows being "one big happy family", where everyone gets along famously, Beverley playfully told us that she likes some members of the family more than others. Well, someone had to say it.

She laughed: "You get some members of cast who moan if they've got one scene. We are a big family and we do all look after each other, but there are some in a family you love more than others, you know?! I have to be truthful!

"It's such a naff thing to say that we're all just one big family and we all love each other. Sometimes if you're working with someone and you've got scene after scene after scene and they're moaning, you think, 'Shut up, you've only worked two days this week!' We do have the whingers, same as anybody does!"

4. Ray Meagher: 'Home and Away had too much sex, drugs and rock and roll' (2018)

Photo credit: Channel 5

After 30 years of playing Alf Stewart in Summer Bay, the legendary Ray Meagher definitely knows a thing or two about keeping the show true to its roots. So perhaps it's no surprise that Ray wasn't a fan of the River Boys era of the show, which saw Braxton brothers Brax, Heath and Casey arrive in the Bay and spark years of crime-focused storylines.

In a candid chat with Digital Spy, Ray explained: "I honestly believe that we got locked into one alley for a while a few years back with the River Boys. Steve Peacocke who played Brax and Lincoln Younes who played Casey were just sensational actors and they handled their storylines incredibly well.

"But I think the writers took the story down too narrow a path for too long. Summer Bay and Home and Away isn't just about sex, drugs and rock and roll – or guns, drug deals and bank robberies. There's going to be an element of that, but we went down that path and stayed in it for too long."

5. Charles Lawson: 'There's no time for fun in Coronation Street' (2014)

Photo credit: ITV

Coronation Street star Charles Lawson was last seen in his popular role of Jim McDonald in 2014, when he returned for a short prison-based storyline with Peter Barlow. When Digital Spy caught up with him on set for a chat about his latest stint, Charles admitted that he was disappointed over the lack of community spirit on set these days.

Claiming that an increase in episodes has affected the atmosphere, Charles explained: "There was a lot of fun back in the day. There was a drinking culture which I fully embraced - you worked hard and you played hard. That's changed now because there's no time. We even had a Coronation Street cricket team, but there's no time for that now.

"People on the show are doing 16 or 17 scenes a day, so they just go home afterwards. There's such an intense workload, with four filming units, so the green room is empty.

"Before there was a common ground, whether it was the cricket pitch or the green room, but there's no time for that now. I think that's very sad – the craic has disappeared but that's the nature of the beast. The whole acting industry's like that now."

6. Jane Cox: 'I didn't like Zak's Emmerdale affair story' (2015)

Photo credit: ITV

Emmerdale fans have recently complained that there's too much cheating and bed-hopping in the show, but long-serving star Jane Cox – aka Lisa Dingle – was way ahead of them and first raised the concern in 2015.

When Lisa's popular relationship with Zak looked set to be torn apart by his affair with Joanie, an unimpressed Jane admitted that she wasn't a fan of the storyline – believing that the Dingles should have been kept as the one Emmerdale couple who actually stayed faithful.

She told us: "I didn't like it, that's the honest truth. Lisa and Zak were the only characters whose relationship was as solid as a rock, and I felt that was a good thing for the village."

But at least Jane was prepared to see things from both sides, adding: "We don't have control over what happens with our stories – we're here to tell stories as best we can. These things do happen. You read of people in their seventies who suddenly aren't with each other any more, so I think it's a very human story in lots of ways, although I might not personally like it."

7. June Brown: 'EastEnders isn't giving me the opportunity for a BAFTA' (2013)

Photo credit: BBC

Soap fans were outraged when iconic EastEnders star June Brown missed out on winning a BAFTA award in 2009. When June appeared on Graham Norton's chatshow in 2013 and he confidently predicted she'll get one eventually, the TV legend didn't hold back – suggesting that she doesn't get enough storylines to justify the honour.

June quipped: "No I won't. You have to have the opportunity to get a BAFTA. You have to have the part, don't you? I mean, if I say I'd like a tomato juice, I'm not going to get a BAFTA, am I?"

June was at it again when she appeared on Loose Women in 2015 and the panel gushed about her being in a "fantastic storyline" at the time.

Clearly baffled, she replied: "I wondered what it was for a moment. I potter in and out with an odd scene here and there. I'm trying very hard not to open up my big mouth, which is very hard. I would like to do more. Personally my mind needs occupying. If it isn't, it goes all over the place."

8. Laila Morse: 'All the fun is gone from EastEnders' (2017)

Photo credit: BBC

Laila Morse – aka Big Mo – may have been invited back to EastEnders as part of the Slater revival, but we have a feeling she may not always have been in such favour with the producers.

Just last year, Laila complained that she didn't enjoy watching the show as much, claiming that it was starting to lack the fun factor. She also complained that EastEnders bosses had written her out without ever giving her a leaving party.

"I still watch EastEnders, but it feels like all fun has gone," Laila told The Sun. "It used to make people laugh. It's not like that anymore, it's just not got the kick in it that it used to have."

She added: "People come up to me in the street everyday and ask why I'm not in EastEnders any more as Big Mo used to make people laugh. All of a sudden my character disappeared and I wasn't in it any more, but I've never officially left the show – I've never had a leaving party or a present." We just hope they made up for it by throwing a 'welcome back' party for Laila this year...

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