Back in 2004, when Tracy-Ann Oberman joined EastEnders as Dirty Den’s second wife, Chrissie Watts, little did she know what the reaction would be to her new character.
The high-profile role, which saw 17 million people tune in to see her kill Dirty Den, made Oberman tabloid fodder. But with the fame came misery.
Speaking on White Wine Question Time, the actor said that the accompanying fame didn’t make her happy.
“Actually, it was the unhappiest I've ever been,” she revealed to host Kate Thornton.
“And it made me realise that that fame wasn't the answer – and that the most famous people A-listers that I knew were some of the unhappiest.”
Listen: Tracy Ann Oberman talks about working with Kenneth Branagh on her new radio play
Oberman went on to cite her long working hours as one of the reasons she hated the success.
“I was doing 28 scenes a day on the show. I was working five days a week,” she recalled.
“I literally had got married and never seen Rob at all. The chances of having a baby were probably none. I just worked and worked and worked, and the fame didn't mean anything.”
Prior to joining EastEnders, Oberman, 54, had been a jobbing actor for 12 years, starring alongside Sir Kenneth Branagh on stage, while also appearing in TV sitcoms alongside the likes of Michael Barrymore and Lenny Henry.
She told Thornton that the moment she was nominated for a Best Newcomer award at the National Television awards was pretty surreal.
“I'd worked for so many years and I got nominated as Best Newcomer and I'd been acting for like 12 and a half years,” she exclaimed.
“I remember at the National Television Awards, I was up against a 10-year-old boy from Corrie!”
Oberman actually lost out to child star Sam Aston who played Chesney in Coronation Street and said being on the front cover of magazines may have sounded great but it just wasn’t for her.
“Other people kept telling me how amazing and successful and famous I was, but I didn't feel that,” she admitted.
“I had no life. It sounds really ungrateful, but I was just happy doing a play above the Finborough Arms that I loved, or a radio play that fed my soul.
“What do they say? One for the meal, one for the reel. You need to pay money, but you also want to have one for the reel, which feeds yourself. People who want to be famous, I think there's a lot of emotional holes that need filling.”
When she first decide she wanted to be an actor, studying at the Central School of Speech and Drama, her father warned her that she would spend her life “in a bedsit with a cat for company.” Consequently, she says she’s been happy with just working.
“Every day that that hasn't happened to me, I feel like I'm winning at life,” she laughed.
“I had very low expectations of what success was - I just wanted to work and work and work. I had a very realistic, wide peripheral vision.”
She’s currently appearing in Channel 4’s hit drama, It’s A Sin, and says her definition of success is now solely based around self-acceptance.
She told Thornton: “I really believe it's just staying sane, healthy, whole, and accepting yourself — and enjoying your work and enjoying your life - but not always compare and contrast, wishing you were somewhere else, wishing you could be somewhere else.
“Just accept where you are and accept where you're at. Have goals and dreams, but you're not a total failure if those things haven't happened.”
Watch: Eastenders star Lucy Benjamin remembers the late Barbara Windsor