EastEnders star Patsy talks about being back in the Square, growing up on camera and close bond with on-screen enemy Danniella Westbrook…

What is the first question you are always asked?
“When is Bianca going to get back with Ricky?’ Everyone wants that, it’s all people ever ask me if they see me in the street, but I think ”Do you? Do you really?”

How is it now that Sam is back?
“For me, things get much more interesting when Sam comes along as it plugs into Bianca’s insecurity and makes her want Ricky even more. She puts all her efforts into trying to convince him that she’s the woman for him. She hates Sam for what she’s done and there are going to be some great catfights between them. I love it! I’m thrilled they are giving me this stuff.”

What about the relationship between Ricky and Bianca?
“I think the media have missed the fact that although Ricky and Bianca have nothing, they have been very grown-up for the sake of their kids and created this happy home. Everybody is really down on broken families from poor homes, but these two show it can work.”

Your parents broke up when you were young. Was that difficult?
“I always saw my dad. It was all right. I accepted it. In fact, Pat’s place in Walford reminds me of my mum’s house when I was growing up. It’s a madhouse with everyone coming and going. There’s all this chaos, but it’s a happy home and you can’t ask for more than that,”

How do you and Danniella get on off screen?
“We’re really close friends and we’ve done a lot of catching up recently in-between filming – it’s hard to stay in touch outside work because we live quite far apart and Danniella and I have got kids. We grew up together on the show, me, her and Sid. I was a bit older because although I was playing a teenager, I was actually in my early 20s. It’s great to be working together again. I recently saw some old footage of us and I found it really emotional. I was a single mum, but I looked so young.”

How are your own children (Charley, 17, Fenton, nine, and eight-year-old Emilia)?
“There was a picture of me and my son in a magazine and this journalist commented that Charley was gorgeous – which he is of course! Anyway, she wrote that it made her feel old and I thought, ‘How the hell do you think it makes me feel?’ When they’re little, you can’t imagine them growing up. After I left the show, I was a stay-at-home mum. I’m glad I did that too because what’s the point of having children if you never see them? I enjoyed that time. I did the odd job, but I couldn’t imagine doing EastEnders full-time again. I was actually scared to come back. In my head I didn’t think I could cope with the schedule. When you are at home all day, you just can’t imagine working those hours, but now the youngest are at school all day and I am so glad I came back. It’s been 18 months and I’m really enjoying it. I feel really lucky that I’ve got these storylines.”

Do the youngsters also watch you?
“Yes. They take the mickey out of me and are always saying, ‘Rickkaaay.’ And they laugh at Bianca’s clothes. I don’t blame them as the outfits are getting a bit pantomime. Her pink and leopard skin jacket is mad!”