EastEnders star Jessie Wallace on her triumphant return to the Square and how two newcomers put the smile back on Kat’s face…

This week Kat’s horrified when her larger-than-life pal from Spain Martine, turns up with her daughter Shenice. What was that like?
“Their arrival is timely as it gives Kat and Alfie something else to focus on. Martina and Kat clash at times, but they also get on brilliantly and you’ll see the fun side of Kat again. Working with Lily has been a joy – she’s a really talented little actress.”

How did you feel about the baby swap storyline?
“At times, it was really difficult to film as I am a mother myself, but I stand by it. We’re actors at the end of the day. We do our job and we go home. It’s drama, that’s it. It’s an emotive subject, but I feel honoured that they have given it to us.”

How are things with your own daughter Tallulah?
“Tallulah and I are best mates. She’s so funny. She comes out with hilarious things – she’s so observant, so clever. She knows what she wants to wear every day. She’s definitely got her own mind.”

Has it been tough juggling EastEnders, with motherhood?
“I’m getting used to it. It was difficult at first, working until 8pm in the evening and being picked up at 5am the next morning. I forgot how hectic it can be. It’s a lot faster than I remember it before. It’s hard when I don’t have time to see Tallulah, but when we do spend time together at the weekend, it’s just great.”

So no regrets about coming back?
“I missed playing Kat. Being back at EastEnders feels like I’ve come home. I was nervous about coming back because I thought I might have forgotten how to play her, but as soon as I stepped onto the Square, she came back to me. Even when I was out of the show, people called me Kat every day in the street. I was flattered that people still remembered me and I am so glad I’m back here now. The scripts have been brilliant and I am having a great time.”

And you must feel great as you slimmed down to petite a size eight and released a fitness video ‘Look At Me Now’…
“I am really pleased. It was an amazing feeling to finally get fit. I feel healthy and a lot more content now. I have always wanted to lose weight and I tried all these fad diets that didn’t work. Now, I have cut out wheat and dairy, I eat really sensibly and exercise is a big thing. I go running every morning and I go to the gym three times a week. And every night in front of the telly, I do 300 stomach crunches. I’m not obsessed with it. I just enjoy it. When you see the changes in your body, it motivates you to do even more. I can wear what I want now. Before, I used to cover up and get slated for being overweight. Now I get slated for being too toned. You can never win!”

EastEnders is on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays on BBC1