Strictly Come Dancing and ex EastEnders star Kara Tointon talks about her lifelong struggle with dyslexia…

You tell us about your struggles with dyslexia in next week’s BBC3 documentary Don’t Call Me Stupid. How has the disorder affected your life?
“I’ve never read a book from cover to cover. Reading has always been a chore for me. I’d look at my sister, Hannah, who’s four years younger, and reading is her life. She’s always reading a book, and I wanted to be part of that, and be in place where your imagination does the work for you.”

Reading can be extremely difficult for dyslexics. What happens when you look at a book?
“The page looks jumbled and jumpy and like there are lights between each word. And where an ordinary person might scan seven words at once across a page, I’m only able to see each word by itself. Everything is all in bits.”

Do you have any other traits common to dyslexics?
“For example, I’m so unorganised as a person, I bring five bags to everything. I’m always losing things and I’m always letting people down because I can’t plan my days properly. And I spell things the way they sound, which always makes my friends giggle.”

Did you struggle at school?
“I did feel stupid at school a lot of the time. I owe everything to the teacher who picked up that something was wrong. Because instead of saying, ‘Oh, she’ll get there in the end,’ which I’ve discovered is happening to dyslexics even now and is incredibly awful, I had a diagnosis at the age of seven. And that’s the key.”

How did your mum and dad help?
“They sat me down when I was five and we went through 20 different hobbies and I picked gymnastics because it was something I was good at. So I was getting that buzz from doing things outside of school.”

As an actress, learning lines can’t be easy. How did it work on EastEnders?
“I’d write the first line seven times and remember it and then write the first two lines seven times and memorise them, then add another line and so on. It was incredibly long and slow.”

What did you take away from the documentary?
“It’s changed me and made me aware of why I am the way I am. But the most important thing I learned is that dyslexic people don’t need to let it wreck their lives. Dylsexia doesn’t mean you’re stupid or you’re thick, it means you need to be taught in a certain way that fits your brain and works for you.”