As enduring figure Cindy Beale (Michelle Collins) makes her eagerly awaited return to Albert Square, a major week in EastEnders is about to begin.
Cindy has already been seen in her new life in France, where she has been residing with Ian (Adam Woodyatt) and Peter (Thomas Law) while being protected as a witness. However, what we have been most eagerly anticipating is seeing her return to Walford and reunite with old friends like her mother-in-law Kathy Beale (Gillian Taylforth) and Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden).
The reunion of Cindy with her children Gina (Francesca Henry) and Anna (Molly Rainford), whom she had to leave without warning many years before, is also expected to cause intense emotion. George (Colin Salmon), the father of the kids and her ex-partner, is also present. How’s that reunion going to go?
Michelle Collins admitted that she initially had some hesitations about going back, but they vanished as soon as she learned what was in store for her character.
She told us, “At first, I was like, “Hmm, I don’t know…” ‘And when I finally saw Chris [Clenshaw], [my agent and I] were both really surprised when he showed us the narrative on his laptop. I’d heard that this new producer was really brilliant and that everyone was saying “Oh, he’s terrific” and everything. Wow, I just thought. Perhaps, if they can make it work. I’m now here after a year, so there!
Michelle believed that Cindy’s homecoming needed to be handled carefully in order for viewers to buy into it and be willing to engage in the character once more.
I decided against returning for only a week because it wouldn’t be worthwhile. And I feel that for people to believe in that, in that persona, it has to be done effectively. It seemed like the proper moment in my life for it to happen, and I think it was about time,” she remarked.
Michelle was just 26 years old in 1988 when Cindy Beale first came in Albert Square. Tony Holland, one of the original writers of EastEnders who co-created the programme with Julia Smith, was a co-star in the BBC drama Pressures that she was filming prior to that. She, in his opinion, would be ideal for EastEnders.
Michelle remembered, “I received an audition and went to see Julia.” ‘I believed the role was named Corinne and the producer was named Cindy, but it was the other way around! It was only for 11 episodes! Cindy was the name of the character, while Corinne Hollingsworth was the name of the producer. She didn’t seem too pleased when I named her Cindy, in my opinion!
Despite this bleak beginning, Michelle managed to get the position and went on to portray the legendary character throughout the whole of the 1990s.
However, Michelle informed us that this was not the first time she had applied for a position at EastEnders; in fact, she had previously tried out for a part that would later become as famous, but with a different actress.
It’s interesting to note that while the programme was still called E8, I first applied for the role of Punk Mary. And I obviously didn’t grasp it,” she remarked.
Eventually, Linda Davidson was cast in the part of adolescent mother Mary Smith, who was easily recognised due to her punk aesthetic. For Dot Cotton’s funeral last October, Linda played the same part once more.
If Michelle had landed the first role she applied for, the course of EastEnders might have been very different, but everything turned out for the best when she went on to portray one of the most recognisable figures in Walford history. And Michelle is interested in finding out what Cindy Beale’s future holds.
She seems a little wiser and older… I’m not sure about the wiser part,’ the actress jokingly said. “In a way, I suppose a little like I am.” Your character will change as a result of all of your life’s experiences. and the experiences she has had. She’s definitely not a cakewalk! She’s gone through a lot, so I’d say she’s quite emotional. I can’t speak too much about what occurred, but there’s a lot of emotional stuff going on there, and she finds things to be very challenging.
Fans will also be pleased by one promise she makes: “You can surely anticipate elements of the old Cindy to come back!”