Lucy Benjamin reveals the real reason she’s returned to EastEnders – and viewers are going to love it

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Lucy Benjamin only agreed to return to EastEnders with the promise of a sensational storyline, which will play out over the coming weeks.

The actress , who resumed her role as downtrodden Lisa Shaw in EastEnders, had to think long and hard about returning when first contacted by producers.

The mum-of-two said: “At first I wasn’t too sure because it is a chapter that was closed and it wasn’t something I’d thought about.

"You don’t live your life thinking ‘I wonder if’. I didn’t know how I felt about it and with having kids too, I didn’t know the length of time I was going to be back for. But once I knew how fabulous the storyline was I was thrilled.”

Lucy Benjamin has returned to the Square
(Image: BBC)
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She was persuaded by a member of the storyline team who told her exactly how Lisa will come face-to-face with her ex – and nemesis – Phil Mitchell, played by her real-life ex Steve McFadden.

“She called me personally and explained the journey that Lisa would have.

She made it too good an offer to refuse. As soon as I spoke to her I said ‘okay, I’ll do it’.

Lucy’s return was a closely guarded secret with even fellow cast and crew unaware that she there.

Pauline really didn't like Lisa
(Image: BBC)

The only people she confided in were her mum and her husband. “It was all very cloak and dagger! I came in through a different entrance and had to wear big sunglasses,” she laughed.

“When I got the scripts my character name was ‘Sam’. We also had the monitors, which relay whatever is being filmed on the different sets, turned off. So whenever I was filming they’d just go blank.”

Lucy, 47, says she is still flattered when people say “hi Lisa” to her when she’s out shopping – 16 years on from her iconic ‘Who shot Phil?’ storyline.

But the actress admits that she never thought she’d be invited back onto the soap which made her a star.

Lisa was a very downtrodden character
(Image: BBC)

“You just kind of close that chapter. You don’t live your life thinking, ‘I wonder if’. When I’m out shopping people come up and say ‘Oh, Louise is having a terrible time, Lisa should be back,’ but I hadn’t really thought about it.”

The actress, who quit the soap 14 years ago, says she is touched when people still remember her from Eastenders.

“I find quite surprising, but also very complimentary. It’s very sweet that people still do that. I think it’s linked with the stuff that’s going on now too with Louise. It brings Lisa back to the forefront of people’s minds.”

Lucy, who recently appeared in Casualty, says it was a pleasure to work with old friends again, including Letitia Dean (Sharon), Steve McFadden (Phil) and Natalie Cassidy (Sonia).

“To be honest I was a little apprehensive, it’s just like the first day at a new job,” she said. “But within twenty minutes of being there it was like I had never been away.

*“*I was with people who really had my back; knowing that I had a tough storyline to do. It was fabulous having the support of a great team, and a good bunch of actors that are just up to speed. They know what they’re doing and can support you so much.

“I had a really, really lovely time and it was great to be with them all.

There was lots of reminiscing, lots of giggles.”

She is still proud of being involved in the big storyline of 2001, when 22million viewers tuned in to discover that she had shot Phil. “It was fabulous writing, a slow burn and a real ‘whodunnit?’ – it paid off on every level.”

Lucy’s latest storyline is going to be explosive, involving big scenes between Lisa and Phil, Sharon and Sonia. “There’s lots of twists and turns you don’t see coming. I think there’s lots of history and you’ll see a lot of old Lisa being played out.

It’s good old kitchen sink drama with the relationships people love. It’s reminiscent of historical stuff which is great.”

If Lisa isn’t killed off, there’s always a chance that she could be brought back for good. “Coming back reminded me how much I loved the workload,”

Lucy said. “As much as it’s hard, I love the craft so much and working to that extent. It was great to get my teeth back into doing what I do.”

From The Mirror