EastEnders star Gillian Wright explains pitching Jean's big storyline

EastEnders star Gillian Wright has revealed why she pitched Jean Slater's big Southend-on-Sea storyline.

Back in April, Jean embarked on a trip to the seaside wearing her wedding dress as she battled a manic bipolar episode that ended in a near death experience.

Wright, who won an Inside Soap Award for Best Showstopper for the episode, told Inside Soap that she pitched the storyline to bosses because she wanted to show another aspect of bipolar disorder.

"It was my idea! That's why this award means so much to me. I pitched it to the bosses thinking: 'There's no way they will do it'," said Wright.

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"This award means that something I've done has touched people. I'm chuffed!"

Speaking of the episode, Wright said that she "treasured every minute of it" because she knew she wouldn't have many scenes following the tragic episode.

"I loved it! I was like a dog with a bone for that whole storyline. I knew it was going to have an ending, then I'd be taking a backseat for some time, so I treasured every minute of it. Also it mattered to me that we tell an aspect of bipolar that we hadn't told before."

jean slater, eastenders
BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron

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According to Wright, some fans were confused about the direction her character had taken but she said that people with bipolar disorder defended the role.

"They didn't get it, so it made me worried that I wasn't telling the story properly. Then apparently there were arguments on Facebook! People with bipolar were trying to explain: 'No, she's got it right, this is what it's l like'."

Discussing the importance of representation, Wright said: "If we've lessened the stigma a bit, I will be hugely pleased."

EastEnders airs on Mondays - Thursdays at 7.30pm on BBC One. The show also streams on BBC iPlayer.

Read more EastEnders spoilers on our dedicated homepage.

If you've been affected by the issues raised in this story, organisations who can offer support include Samaritans on 116 123 (www.samaritans.org) or Mind on 0300 123 3393 (www.mind.org.uk). Readers in the US are encouraged to visit mentalhealth.gov.

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