EastEnders: Gillian Taylforth says showdown with Vicki Michelle's Jo will have 'repercussions'

The soap icon fills us in on what to expect.

EastEnders 17-07-2023,6733,Kathy Beale (GILLIAN TAYLFORTH);Bobby Beale (CLAY MILNER RUSSELL),***EMBARGOED TILL TUESDAY 11TH JULY 2023***, BBC, Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarro
Gillian Taylforth as bride-to-be Kathy Beale in EastEnders. (BBC)

Gillian Taylforth has warned that Kathy Beale’s wedding to Rocky Cotton (Brian Conley) on EastEnders will be ‘explosive’, thanks to the return of his vengeful ex-wife Jo (Vicki Michelle).

Speaking at a recent press event, Taylforth explained what happens when the unwelcome guest arrives.

“Unfortunately, [Jo] does turn up with an agenda. She’s got more things to say, which aren’t gonna be very nice for Kathy,” she revealed.

Asked whether we can expect a bigger showdown than last time, the star replied: “Even more explosive. So, take my word for that, it will be.

"This won't be just a slanging match, there will be quite a few fireworks going off on the day of the wedding. And the repercussions are going to be [big] for them all.”

EastEnders,18-07-2023,6734,Jo Cotton (Vicki Michelle),***EMBARGOED TILL TUESDAY 11TH JULY 2023***, BBC, Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron
Vicki Michelle is back as Jo Cotton, Rocky's ex-wife. (BBC)

It remains to be seen if Jo’s presence, complete with a mystery bombshell for Rocky billed as her ‘vicious revenge’, will stop Kathy from saying ‘I do.’

But however stressful Rocky's dilemma is for her alter ego, Taylforth said that working with Conley is always good fun.

Read more: Every EastEnders icon returning as Angela Wynter and Thomas Law make comebacks

“He is so lovely, I get on really, really well with him. We've both got the same sense of humour. I love a joke, he loves a joke, so you can imagine when we’re doing our scenes, what they’re like.

“We have a great camaraderie, we’re good friends, we have a great working relationship, and yeah, we just get on so well. And it's lovely at long last for Kathy to be getting married to who she thinks is the man of her dreams. Little does she know what's to await her,” the star teased.

EastEnders,17-07-2023,6733,Jo Cotton (Vicki Michelle);Rocky (BRIAN CONLEY),***EMBARGOED TILL TUESDAY 11TH JULY 2023***, BBC, Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron
What bombshell does Jo drop on the groom? (BBC)

Having first appeared in EastEnders during the BBC soap's 1985 debut, how does Taylforth feel about the direction Kathy has been taken in since then?

“I think she’s, do I say ‘mellowed’ a bit?” she mused. “She has mellowed a bit over the years, but what I did love about Kathy was that she's a very strong, strong character.

“She's not afraid, and she doesn't suffer fools gladly, she doesn't; and she's not afraid to go out and say something if she's not happy. And anybody harms her children, her grandchildren, she's right in there in the thick of it, protecting them.

EastEnders,17-07-2023,6733,Rocky (BRIAN CONLEY);Callum Highway (TONY CLAY);Lexi Mitchell;Sonia Fowler (NATALIE CASSIDY);Kathy Beale (GILLIAN TAYLFORTH);Bobby Beale (CLAY MILNER RUSSELL);Ben Mitchell (MAX BOWDEN),***EMBARGOED TILL TUESDAY 11TH JULY 2023***, BBC, Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron
Will the wedding go ahead? (BBC)

“She's very much that mother hen, and she always was like that. In fact, Kathy was the only one to stand up to Lou Beale in the beginning, she was the only one who did out of all the women, so I loved that about her, I did. And I think she has mellowed a bit over the years, [when it] comes to Ian and her grandchildren especially.”

Read more: EastEnders fans beg for Jacqueline Jossa to return full time after surprise appearance

Speaking of the Beale bloodline, Kathy’s grandson Peter is set to return alongside his parents — Kathy's son Ian (Adam Woodyatt) and his first wife Cindy (Michelle Collins).

Peter was previously played by Dayle Hudson, and will now be portrayed by returning actor Thomas Law, last seen in the role in 2010.

Thomas Law as Peter Beale in EastEnders (BBC)
Thomas Law as Peter Beale in EastEnders (BBC)

Peter ran off with his gran’s money last year, and now Taylforth offers a taster of his reunion with Kathy. “I’ve worked with Tom today, which was great, to see Tom Law again, so that was lovely. [Peter’s] come back now and there's a lovely moment with him. And she's hard on him, but she knows he can twist her round his little finger. She knows that, she knows he can.”

Despite all the drama, there have at least been some happier times for Kathy in recent months. Who can forget that iconic scene which saw her having a few too many drinks in The Vic?

Read more: EastEnders spoilers: Lisa Fowler returns, Stacey plans reunion with Martin

“It was lovely, I really enjoyed it, and I especially enjoyed the drunk scenes. I don’t know why they keep writing me as a drunk,” she laughed.

“They’re fun to do; they’re hard to do because obviously you don't want to be like Freddie Frinton [in comedy sketch Dinner for One].

EastEnders,20-02-2023,6649,Kathy Beale (GILLIAN TAYLFORTH);Rocky (BRIAN CONLEY),***EMBARGOED TILL TUESDAY 14TH FEBRUARY 2023***, BBC, Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron
Kathy has certainly let her hair down more recently. (BBC)

“They're hard to do, but they're great to do. I do like doing those sort of scenes, because you can really get into it then, when you’re saying your words. And I'm a bit of a joker anyway, so it's quite nice to be able to have a jokey sort of drunk. That's nice to play, that fun drunk, I like playing that.”

As Kathy is the star's most famous and beloved character, she’s got used to answering to the name in public. “People call me Kathy all the time,” admitted Taylforth.

“In fact, I was walking along the road one day, and someone called out, ‘Kathy, Kathy,’ and I turned round and went ‘Oh, hi’ and they went ‘No, that person there.’ It was their friend. That was embarrassing, they didn't want me at all.

"They went, ‘You’re Gillian, aren’t you?’ and I went ‘Oh yeah, sorry!’”

Watch EastEnders stars chat about future storylines