Lacey Turner, who plays EastEnders‘ Stacey Branning, talks about her decision to leave the soap after five and a half years…

What has prompted your decision?
“I will miss everyone in Albert Square, but the time has come to try something different.”

Any idea of what you would like to do?
“It would be so exciting to work in films, but only if the role was exciting and interesting. I am an actress first and foremost. Celebrity life isn’t important, it’s the challenge of the role and the scripts that keeps me in this business and characters who have stories to tell.”

What have you enjoyed about playing Stacey?
“I just loved everything about her because she was so loud and mouthy and all the things that I’d love to be. By playing her, I could do that without getting into trouble!”

How did you get into acting in the first place?
“It was more of a hobby. But I loved the show and used to watch it all the time with all my family, so I auditioned. It was nice to become part of something I loved so much.”

Didn’t you originally audition for the role of Darren Miller’s twin sister Demi (later played by Shana Swash)?
“Yes. I might not have been here now. I remember them ringing me to tell me I hadn’t got that part and I went to bed upset. Now I’m so happy I got the part of Stacey because she’s a character who can be anywhere, with anyone and do anything.’

What are your favourite moments?
“I loved all the Bradley and Stacey stuff. It was so not what anyone expected, it was lovely to play all the geeky moments that you never thought she would have! I love the fact that they became everyone’s favourite couple and working with Charlie because we got on so well. It’s just not the same without him. I do miss him, so I still speak to him and we go out to eat and catch up.”

And what has been the biggest challenge?
“I think Stacey discovering she had bi-polar depression. The fact that it made a difference to a few people’s lives made it worthwhile. I was petrified at first, but it was brilliant to be trusted with something so important. Playing Stacey has opened my eyes. I didn’t realise how common bipolar was. You learn things through reading the scripts and doing research. There are people out there like Stacey who’ve been going through what she has.”

What about the new baby storyline coming up?
“I’m quite excited to have a new little person. I‘m just waiting to see whether Stacey’ll be a good mum or a bad mum! Acting with a baby is all right because I’ve got a little sister. I was 13 when she was born so I’ve handled baby stuff before. They’re all right when they’re newborn because they don’t really make a noise.”

Do you think success has changed you?
“No, I bought my own place, but I still live at home. I missed my mum so I moved back. I can’t live without her, no way!”

Get EastEnders storylines first! Sign up to receive our EastEnders Extra newsletter

Click here to watch whatsontv.co.uk’s weekly soaps video preview, the Soap Scoop