PATSY Kensit’s life has been a whirlwind lately.
As well as recently finishing her guest role on EastEnders, which has left fans wanting more, the actress celebrated turning 55 last week and has been quietly enjoying her engagement to property developer Patric Cassidy.
In an exclusive interview with UK Times on Sunday, Patsy says she is happier than ever and hopes to return to Albert Square one day.
She said: “I’ve been very busy. My feet haven’t really touched the ground, but I’m very grateful.
“I’m feeling good. I’m trying to be the best I can be for the age that I am and the best possible version of myself.
“I am a hopeless romantic and I do believe in love. I’m very excited about the future on many levels. I’m happy and feel very blessed.”
The former singer joined the BBC1 soap this year as Emma, the estranged mother of brain tumour stricken Lola Pearce, played by Danielle Harold.
Landing the acting gig was a lifelong ambition for Patsy, whose family hail from London’s East End.
She said: “It felt like winning the Lottery to be offered this part. I would love it if my character Emma had a bigger role in the future.
“I already miss filming. I would absolutely consider a return — it would be wonderful.”
Patsy auditioned in 2004 to play the wife of notorious villain Dirty Den Watts, but lost out to Tracy-Ann Oberman.
So she was delighted when, almost two decades later, another role on the soap came up.
She said: “EastEnders is a show I’ve wanted to be a part of for years, back from the days when my friend Martin Kemp was on the soap.
‘It’s full-on work, but the buzz is amazing’
“I remember when Tracy got the part over me. She is a wonderful actress and a lovely lady. But I didn’t give up on that unfulfilled dream.
“I had always wanted to be in the Queen Vic.
“I grew up watching Barbara Windsor, she was my idol.
“I loved her catchphrase as the Queen Vic’s Peggy Mitchell, ‘Get out of my pub!’ I was excited to draw on all those fabulous one-liners.”
Despite her impressive acting CV, which includes long-standing roles as Emmerdale villain Sadie King and nurse Faye Morton in Holby City, Patsy admitted she was anxious before filming began.
She said: “I was starstruck as I’ve been watching all these actors forever. I was in awe and so nervous. The first week I was terrified.
“Having worked on a soap before I know that the cast and crew are the hardest-working in the industry.
“I knew it was going to be hard work and it was, but I loved every single minute of it.
“I was worried about how my brain was going to retain all the scripts but my memory muscle hadn’t left me.
“We have a lot of rewrites on the show to make things as good as they can be, so there are days you are handed pages of new dialogue you have to consume in 35 minutes.
“Then you knuckle down, focus and deliver, and there is nothing more rewarding than that.”
Patsy got on well with co-star Danielle, who is set to leave the soap following the end of her storyline, which will mirror the untimely death of The Wanted singer Tom Parker from a brain tumour a year ago.
Producers discussed the effect the 33-year-old singer’s tragic story had on the nation and plan to replicate those emotions in Albert Square.
Patsy said: “I had a real bond with Danielle. She’s been on the show a long time and she is phenomenal at what she does.
“We spoke on the phone ahead of the filming, which allowed us to get to know each other.
“You have a huge responsibility when dealing with sensitive storylines.”
Playing a mother on the soap forced Patsy to imagine difficult situations with her own grown-up sons, James, 30, and Lennon, 23.
She said: “As a mother it was really upsetting playing scenes where you are distressed.
“There is no other way of getting to that spot without having to imagine terrible things happening to your loved ones and thinking of times in your life that you don’t want to be reminded of. It’s draining.
“We were shooting over 40 pages of dialogue a day and really heightened scenes, so it’s not for the foolhardy.
“It’s full-on work, but the buzz you get from being in every single scene every day is amazing.
“It becomes like a family for the duration as that really is your life.”
One element that took Patsy by surprise was the plummeting temperature of filming on set in Elstree, Herts.
She said: “I think Walford has its own little microclimate. It’s bizarre.
“It’s several degrees colder than anywhere else in London. I resorted to thermals the entire time — all vanity went out the window.
“Initially I wanted to look as streamlined as possible, but I thought, ‘Sod it, I’m don’t care if I look like a sack of potatoes — I’m too cold’.”
Patsy’s own East End family connections featured on BBC1’s Who Do You Think You Are? in 2008.
On the show she unravelled the mysteries surrounding her father James, who was known as Jimmy The Dip and was an associate of East End gangsters the Kray twins.
The family went on the run to the Caribbean during Patsy’s turbulent childhood, but she felt a bond with her late father during filming.
She said: “My dad would’ve been super proud of me. He was from Bethnal Green, so it makes perfect sense for me to be in Walford. I felt very at home.”
Before her EastEnders debut in January Patsy was struck down with pneumonia and was rushed to A&E — but she was back on stage in panto just two days later.
Even though her work ethic is strong, she knows when to slow down and swears by meditation.
The former child star said: “I’ve been working now for 51 years in the acting profession, which is quite a commitment.
“I’ve realised that if you haven’t got your health, you have nothing. You have to look after yourself and make sure you’re eating right.
“I decided to have absolutely no alcohol until I was finished on EastEnders. I’m very disciplined,
“I try to do 15 minutes of guided meditation in the morning.
“I discovered it in Thailand 14 years ago and it changed my life completely. It taught me to be peaceful, calm and positive.
“I’ve learned from every situation, good and bad, and I’ve come away with a lesson. I don’t regret anything.”