Kara Tointon will soon be bidding farewell to Walford after four years of playing Dawn Swann in EastEnders. Here, Kara talks about her departure and life after Dawn…

Has it been tough to say goodbye?
“I’m really lucky I’ve had Joe [Swash, boyfriend and former EastEnder] there, he’s been such an amazing support. He knew exactly how I’d be feeling, that I would feel a bit down, so it was really nice he was able to prepare me. It’s weird that we played brother and sister. I forget that until people say: ‘Oh my God, you’re going out with your brother!'”

What was your send-off like?
“They threw a massive party [for Kara and fellow leaver Ricky Groves]. That’s when it hit me. I was expecting five or six people at the bar to have a quick drink and then go home but I was overwhelmed by my friends and there was a montage of all our years on the show. We had speeches and even my mum and dad came. I’m going to get upset now talking about it! I was a wreck, it was really emotional.”

Were you disappointed when your contract was not renewed?
“I can understand people who sign up for six months and stay for 20 years, it goes so quick! It’s been the best four years of my life. I’ve learnt so much. But last year I didn’t do very much, and you can only go as far as your storylines take you. My worst nightmare would be to be killed off, my dream is to go back one day…”

You have certainly had some storylines in the past. What has been your favourite?
“Who could forget Mad May? I remember getting the script and thinking: ‘This isn’t EastEnders, it’s Candid Camera!’ Dawn handcuffed to a bed, and May about to give her a Caesarean. I thought: ‘What!?'”

What about your current affair with Phil Mitchell?
“While I was excited to work with Steve McFadden because I’m such a big fan, I was upset for Dawn. But it’s my job to get the storylines and to act, not to make up what happens. It makes me laugh when people ask: ‘Why do you think Dawn is having this affair with Phil?’ I don’t know! I didn’t come up with it! I would love to write the script but I don’t think EastEnders would be still going in another 25 years if I did.”

What about the rumours that you are going to do Strictly Come Dancing? [Kara won the Sport Relief version last year]
“It’s something I’d love to do, to learn the dances, do the training, I’d love the whole process. I’m always in the audience. At the moment I think I’m a better viewer than participant, and there’s always the danger, I might take it too seriously because I love dancing!”

And of course you could follow Joe into the jungle?
“I’m A Celebrity… has only brought fantastic things to Joe, he loved it, he wants to go back in!”

What about both of you going?
“Maybe. That would be interesting! I loved watching him. Never say never…”