Actress Lisa Maxwell tells us why she has handed in her badge after seven years at The Bill

How are things different since leaving The Bill?
“Well, it’s my daughter Beau’s sports day next Thursday and for the first time I’ll actually be able to make it. I’m usually working and don’t get the chance to do the normal things that mums do, but this year I’m going to be there with knobs on! I’m even taking a picnic. Overall, I’ve been fitting back in with the family, which isn’t as easy as it sounds as they’ve got their own lives without me.”

So it’s been hard work for the past seven years?
“The Bill is all-consuming – it’s a way of life, not just a job, and working six days a week is no way to exist for a long time. I do love work, but now I’ve left I’m really enjoying doing mum things like the school run and cooking tea for Beau. I’m loving the fact she’s getting fed up with me being around – it’s an absolute luxury to be taken for granted!”

Was there any other reason for leaving now?
“I also suffered two miscarriages last year. That was the biggest factor in my decision to go. When the first one happened in January I worked through it, which I shouldn’t have. But being 40-la-la and thinking this may have been my last chance to have a baby – well, it was easier to ignore what had happened and keep being Sam instead of Lisa. Then a few months later it happened again. I’d just done a great scene with Patrick Robinson when I went to the loo and realised something was wrong. This awful feeling, this wave of ‘Oh no, it’s happening again’ washed over me. I rang Paul [Jessup, fiance] and he said, ‘You need to come home.'”

So you took some compassionate leave?
“That was the turning point. To be with my baby girl and Paul was so wonderful. It made me reassess and realise that I didn’t have a healthy work-life balance. My strong work ethic had got the better of me and I’d played Sam so long it had become easier to be her than me. I needed to step back.”

How tough was it filming those final scenes?
“Masses of people piled onto the set and started clapping and they gave me a wooden truncheon engraved with my character’s name and rank. They’d made a beautiful film of my best moments and suddenly my bottom lip went and I was blubbing! It was so embarrassing.”

But now you have been appearing on Loose Women. What’s that like?
“It’s my perfect job. I get to chinwag with the girlies, which is great after all the testosterone at The Bill. I love the girls and they’ve been so generous; it can’t be easy having a little Cockney like me chipping in all the time!”

Do you want to continue acting?
“Yes! I want to play someone else really badly. I don’t mind who, just a good character who’s very different from Sam – not another policewoman! I’d love to do some comedy too, which is where things started for me.”

What about rumours that you have been asked to appear on Strictly Come Dancing?
“I haven’t been asked, but oh blimey, I’d love to do Strictly. I love the glamour, the frocks, and that lovely Anton du Beke. Although he’d be a bit tall for me, wouldn’t he? I’d probably have to have Vincent, he’s a little dynamo. Oh, I’d have anyone really if it meant getting one of those frocks!”

Lisa’s final scenes in The Bill can be seen on Thursday June 18 at 8pm on ITV1.