The 20-year-old, who plays binge-drinker Lauren Branning on the BBC One soap, watched documentaries and consulted charities such as the British Liver Trust to ensure that her portrayal was accurate.
“When I was first told about Lauren’s storyline, I was really excited – but also wanted to do it justice as it is an important issue that many people face. I really didn’t want to let anyone down,” Jacqueline told EastEnders’ official website.
“Although filming was at times difficult, as an actress, it was a great experience. It was quite sad to have to take the character so low, as you really feel for Lauren. Portraying Lauren drunk was hard because every person acts differently when they’ve been drinking. I had to decide how she would act, and how that would change at different stages,” she explained.
Andrew Langford from the British Liver Trust, who was brought in as a consultant, praised EastEnders’ writers for their in-depth research and accuracy with the storyline. “It has been amazing just how professional everyone at EastEnders has been – the desire for accuracy has been outstanding from everyone,” he said.
He also complimented Jacqueline and Jo Joyner, who plays her screen mother Tanya, with their performances, and hopes the plot will raise awareness of underage drinking.
“Any concerns were allayed once I’d read the draft scripts. There is nothing to glorify about teenage alcoholism or any liver disease,” he said. “Having this storyline on a major British soap allows us to get a message across to millions – I hope teenagers themselves take notice and reflect on their own drinking habits.”