Emma Barton on Eastenders, her friendship with Hannah Waddingham, and living every actor's worst nightmare

Eastenders legend Emma Barton talks to Kate about her first day on set as Honey Mitchell, her long lasting friendship with Hannah Waddingham, and the cruel twist of karma that lead to her missing her big West End break.

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Video transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING]

EMMA BARTON: My first job was for the RSC, which isn't bad going, and it was with the wonderful Dame Gillian Lynne. And I remember opening night, we were having drinks, and Gillian Lynne was standing talking to the wonderful Charles Dance.

KATE THORNTON: Wow.

EMMA BARTON: And me and my friend in the ensemble, Daniel, Daniel Hinchcliffe, who was the best dancer in the company, Gillian introduced Daniel to Charles Dance, and she said, Charles, this is Daniel, best dancer in this production, and this is Emma, nice face, but not one of our best dancers. And I was like, oh. It was such a brilliant story, but it just made me think, oh, I need to try harder.

And do you know, when I think of "Strictly" and I got to the final, I thought, I really hope Dame Gillian Lynne is looking down on me, going, you smashed it, girl. So I've got a lot to thank her for.

I did a play at The Mill at Sonning, and another agent came to watch, and he sort of was sniffing around and sort of said, oh, you know, I'd quite like to represent you. And I thought, oh, maybe I should just go and just see what he's about. So I had a meeting. He said, oh, at this time, I don't think we can represent you. So sent all my headshots and my CV back to Barry Burnett instead of my home address.

KATE THORNTON: Oh no.

EMMA BARTON: Yes. And so--

KATE THORNTON: Oh, god. This is like a sitcom moment--

EMMA BARTON: It was awful.

KATE THORNTON: --where we have to can the laughter because it's not funny. Those moments are so sensory, aren't they? Because you grow up watching those shows, and then suddenly you're in the show.

EMMA BARTON: I still get it now. Some days you might be, like, just sort of waiting around for lighting or to do their tweaks or whatever, and you just go, oh, isn't it weird? Isn't it really weird I'm stood here right outside the Queen Vic by the launderette where June Brown would just stand there, you know, smoking her fags as Doc Cotton, you know, which I would watch. It's just mental.

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