EastEnders actor Roger Sloman tells Soaplife about the conflicting feelings Les has about leaving his business in Billy’s hands and retiring to the coast

As the men who killed their precious grandson, Paul, await their sentencing, Les and Pam Coker prepare for a new life by the coast, EastEnders actor Roger Sloman explains to Soaplife magazine.

How does Les feel about the move?
“They’re terribly sad about leaving. It’s not just the tragedy of what happened to Paul that they’re dealing with, but the whole question of their funeral business. They’ve put their heart and soul into it and giving it up is a huge wrench.”

Is Les feeling optimistic about the new start?
“There’s a still a long way to go with the question of Christine, so they have that to resolve and, of course, they’re still dealing with what happened to Paul. However, they love each other and they have a solid base, which will help them to move on.”

Do you think they’re ready for retirement?
“I’m not sure. They’re both busy people and I wonder if they’ll be able to twiddle their thumbs. Personally, I think they might need to find something to do.”

Are they both finding this as hard as the other?
“Yes. It’s like a tennis match with them. One has a wobble and the other supports them, then the other one can’t cope and it turns around. Giving up the business is especially hard for Les because it’s part of who he is.”

Why aren’t they selling up?
“Cokers & Sons is an independent business. It’s not part of a chain and Les wants it to hang on in there. I admire him for that.”

Is Billy Mitchell up to managing the place?
“Les is trying to convince himself that Billy is, but he knows deep down that there will probably be a steep learning curve. The signs are already there that Billy is struggling, but Les and Pam would rather the running of the business go to somebody who’s already part of it than to a stranger.”

Will Les miss Billy?
“Yes, he will. What’s lovely about their relationship is that Les is a bit of a father figure to Billy. Sometimes, though, Billy is the one supporting him. That’s a true friendship.”

Are you pleased with your exit?
“I am. Les and Pam are going out with a bang and I’m grateful for that.”

Read how Roger got to grips with playing his alter ego Christine in EastEnders