Interview Patsy Palmer: It's like Someone Up There Gave Me a Second Chance; PATSY PALMER IS POSITIVELY BLOOMING, WITH A SECOND BABY ON THE WAY AND AN INKLING THAT SHE MAY HAVE MET MR RIGHT. IT'S A FAR CRY FROM ALBERT SQUARE, AS DAPHNE LOCKYER DISCOVERS

Article excerpt

At first glance Patsy Palmer looks just as she did on EastEnders. The glorious hair still dazzles. The chirpy accent is in place. But these days that's just about all that links her to the ghost of Bianca. Patsy's moved on: to a new TV role, a new man - and a new life.

There is now, of course, The Bump. And what has arrived with it to push away memories of the famously glum, petulant, resentful Bianca is the new smiling Patsy - radiating joy and looking as downright luminous as that stunning marmalade-coloured hair.

Patsy, 27, is expecting her second child in August and even though her own life has been, in its own way, as dramatic, tragic, full of unexpected twists and turns as any soap, she's as serene and content as any woman with a man she loves and a baby to look forward to can be.

The fact that she's so far had a relatively easy pregnancy and clearly adores the father - 35-year-old Richard Merkell - have obviously helped.

"With my first pregnancy (she has an eight-year-old son Charley) I was sick every day for nine months. Whereas if every pregnancy could be like this, I'd have one every year," she grins.

"It's been lovely because I've had Richard to share it with. We've read all the books together and done all the things that couples are supposed to do. It's like someone up there gave me a second chance." Not that she ever regretted having Charley. "Charley," she says with her face lighting up, "is just beautiful and I'm so proud of the way that he's growing up."

Her life with Charley's dad came to a sad and well-documented end some years ago - but she feels that now she has found Mr Right.

She is allowing herself to dream of their future together, which she hopes will include several children.

"My partner just loves kids," she smiles. "He's a real family man and I just know he'll be a fantastic dad. Obviously, you don't know what's going to happen in life, but hopefully we'll stay together and grow old and be grandparents and be able to look at our kids and say, `Haven't we done a brilliant job?'."

Experience has taught her not to trust the future entirely, but she's trying. And this in the face not just of what's happened in her own life, but what she sees all around her.

"In fact, I've lived quite an ordinary life. I've been through a lot of the things that girls of my age go through."

She's right. Many modern women live through the same demons of anorexia and drugs and drink addiction that she has battled with in the past. And perhaps those same sufferers can take hope from her achievement in turning around her life.

Patsy is hugely excited by her new TV role alongside Ballykissangel's Lorcan Cranitch in the primetime BBC drama McCready And Daughter, which starts next month.

However, the programme was tinged with sadness when Tony Doyle - who was originally lined up for Lorcan's role - died earlier this year. Patsy had only met Tony once, but was looking forward to working with him.

"It was strange and very sad for all of us, but Lorcan has done a fantastic job of stepping in at the last moment."

The show in question will see Patsy in a lighter, happier role than Bianca, although there is also a deeply emotional side to the part. …