PATSY KARMA; Former EastEnders Actress Patsy Palmer Tells David Thomas Why She Has No Regrets about Becoming a TV Terrorist, and How Her New Found Faith in God Has Helped Her through Her Battle with Alcohol
Byline: DAVID THOMAS
Patsy Palmer sits down for our interview in the bar at London's Groucho Club and orders herself a fishcake and chips. 'I'm quite good at eating and talking,' she laughs. 'That's all I ever do!' I don't know about the eating part - Patsy doesn't have the figure of a woman who can't keep off the pies.
Now 33, she looks elegant and womanly in a green summer dress that sets off her shortcropped, fiery-red hair. But she certainly knows how to talk. She just can't help herself. And as she natters away in that born-and-bred Cockney voice, it's easy to miss the full significance of what she's saying.
It's only later, as I think about our conversation, I realise Patsy has just told me that she has spent much of her life feeling so worthless that she wanted to die. She was out of control as a youngster and later partied so hard it took a 12-step recovery programme to sort out her demons. Reality TV almost finished off her career as a TV actress. The fake-tan products that may yet make her seriously rich were inspired by a brush with skin-cancer.
Oh, and there's one other thing. She's a 'TV terrorist'. Well, that part at least is a joke.
Patsy recently let slip on breakfast TV that she thought EastEnders was now 'rubbish'. Lots of people think that, of course. But most of them didn't spend the best part of seven years playing Bianca Butcher.
'People latched on to it and it went straight in the papers,' says Patsy.
'It was, "Osama bin Laden threatens more terror" and "Patsy Palmer blasts Walford!" Now I'm a TV terrorist. It's really scary!' She's laughing but she stands by what she said. 'I'm not a big EastEnders fan at the moment, although I had been for years,' she says.
'When I got that job, I thought all my dreams had come true. It was my favourite soap ever. Even when I was in it, I used to watch it. I never knew what was happening to Grant, Phil or Dot because we were so busy doing our own stuff. But I just can't watch it at the moment and I don't know why. It will pick up, of course it will. Well, either that or it will go off [the air].'
Television Whatever happens to EastEnders, Patsy won't be part of it. She left the soap in 2001. Leslie Grantham may have gone back to Walford, Mike Read is heading back there too but, says Patsy, 'No one's called me. They know I wouldn't go back. I couldn't do Bianca any more. It was such a long time ago. It would be dramatic suicide.' Patsy's next appearance on TV will be presenting Baby Squad, a ten-part series for parents of babies and toddlers on the UKTV Style satellite channel.
'Each week, different parents talk about the problems we've all had,' says Patsy. 'Parents find it very scary to admit to some of the things going on in their heads.
They're frightened they'll be branded as bad parents - "Maybe I shouldn't be thinking like this" - especially if they're feeling slightly depressed, tired and hungry. All that stuff is going on and your head starts going mad.'
Patsy's speaking from experience. She was just 19 when she gave birth to her first child, Charley. His father was Alfie Rothwell, an East End ex-boxer.
'I got the baby blues, definitely,' she says. 'I was too young. I love it now. Me and Charley [now aged 13] are mates and it's the most fantastic thing that's ever happened to me. …