EastEnders star criticises 'lack of good roles' for middle-aged women

Michelle Collins at a gala screening in London
-Credit: (Image: PA Archive/PA Images)

EastEnders star Michelle Collins has said it feels "right being back" on the soap after a 25-year break as she reflected on the lack of "good TV roles" for middle-aged women. The 62-year-old actress returned to the long-running BBC show as Cindy Beale last year, long after she was said to have died in prison while giving birth in 1998.

It was revealed she had actually been put into witness protection after she made a deal with police to give them information about an inmate in exchange for a life far away from Walford. Speaking to Prima magazine about reprising the role, she said: "Now, it feels right being back. I'm comfortable in my skin, more in the moment. I'm still hard on myself, but I'm in a very different place now."

She continued: "You don't see many 62-year-old women getting good TV roles. There are probably four women who get all the roles and that's not me being grouchy, it's just a fact." Collins said it had been a "big decision" to return to the show after such a long time since her exit.

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"I wanted to go back with a good storyline", she added, "People love to hate Cindy. She is unapologetic and behaves in a way you shouldn't really behave, but you sometimes can't help that when you follow your heart, not your gut and, let's face it, how many women do that?"

Her character's former husband Ian Beale, played by Adam Woodyatt, was also reintroduced to the show as it was revealed they had reignited their relationship and were living in France together. Cindy once hired a hitman to kill Ian following a bitter custody battle over their children.

During her hiatus from the show, Collins has featured in a host of shows including medical drama Casualty, children's TV drama The Dumping Ground and murder mystery comedy Queens Of Mystery. She also got married in 2022 after meeting her partner, Mike Davidson, around 10 years earlier.

"I thought it would never happen; I just didn't think I'd ever get married", she said. "But Mike and I will have been married for two years in August. I was almost 50 when we met. A psychic told me that I would meet the love of my life when I was nearly 50, and it happened."

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