Planet London meets Luisa Bradshaw-White, the jubilant actor behind Eastenders’ happy-go-lucky lesbian character Tina.
PL: How are you?! We’re really excited to talk to you about playing lovely Tina on Eastenders. You’ve been playing her
for a while now (since Nov 2013) – do you feel settled into the show?
LB: I feel like I settled in really quickly, I felt at ease really quickly and now I’m in a place where I’ve got some very good friends in the cast. I did four years on Grange Hill and then Holby City both filmed at Elstree so it was a bit like coming home in a way. I wasn’t intimated, it just felt easy.
I had never wanted to do a soap before, I thought it would be too manic or that it would mean ending up in the
press all the time, but it hasn’t been like that at all.
PL: What was the most interesting welcome you had from fellow cast mates?
LB: Linda Henry (who plays Tina’s sister, Shirley) was really lovely and friendly to me, and we had a lot of scenes together early on.
PL: No initiations then?
LB: Ha ha, no…
PL: You were initially up for a slightly different role, how did Tina come about? And what is your favourite thing about Tina?
LB: I went up for a part that was completely wrong for me, but I sat down with the producers and was involved in developing and creating the character of Tina as she is now. I love the quirkiness, that she’s fun, that when things are miserable she can be the breath of fresh air to lighten things up. She can be really funny too!
PL: You’ve had some heavy story lines in the last few months… do you do any specific research about those situations?
LB: Not specifically. In the domestic abuse storyline I focused really closely on how it would affect Tina, how she would feel about the situation. I liked how it was written and that Tina didn’t become a victim, she fought back, and it was more than a one sided issue – but it still wasn’t okay. She did instigate some of the drama and wind Tosh up, but in the end she obviously didn’t deserve what happened to her.
PL: You are getting to work with some amazing and very experienced actors, people like Timothy West – do they ever give advice or do they let you do your own thing?
LB: Timothy never gave any advice! But he was just a joy to work with… when we did scenes together, often after he would say to me “that was really good” and I’d go home and say “guess what Timothy said to me today?”! Working with actors like that, you can’t help but be better. And there’s something to learn every day on this job.
PL: And are the Carter family actors as close off-screen as they seem on-screen?
LB: Yes, really close! They’re all just lovely, and we laugh so much. When we have our funny scenes, we really are laughing.
PL: You do an amazing job to give depth to a character that’s usually so happy-go-lucky and fun. What do you draw on to strike that balance of the light heartedness and then the big emotional scenes?
LB: Well, once you’ve got to know your character and understand them really well, you just go with the flow… I liked that through the recent miserableness and sadness of the scenes, there are moments where Tina is still giggly and has her spark, even though she’s so sad. The more you absorb a character the easier it is to respond. Somebody isn’t just happy or just sad all the time but Tina bounces back really quickly because she’s a positive happy, outgoing person.
PL: Much needed on The Square!
PL: And now Tina’s finding happiness with Sonia. How early on did you know they would get together?
LB: Right from the beginning! In fact, they brought Tosh in to give background to Tina in the relationship department, and to help build up the possibility of “Tina and Sonia” during the year so the audience at home would begin to root for them. So at the moment they are happy, but there is still drama.
PL: Will it be a happy ending then?
LB: We will see.
PL: What’s a working week like?
LB: Sometimes it’s 7am – 7pm seven days a week; sometimes I have a bit of downtime and I’m only in a few hours in a day. You never know.
PL: You had a great role in the live shows. What was it like to do your scene and what was it like on set during the lives?
LB: I was quite calm, but that was because the four of us (Tina, Sonia, Denise and Kim) were a strong team together, and knew that if someone got something wrong the others would back them up. We were so tight as a unit, and we ended up having a great time. It was exhausting because of all the rehearsals and the energy and emotions that went into it.
When we were live, and I wasn’t on screen, I made sure I took in the moment and it was really exciting to be there.
PL: Is there anything coming up that you are looking forward to for Tina? More dramas on the way?
LB: I’ve got some good storylines coming up with the Carter family, and of course the Sonia/Martin/Tina triangle is going to be interesting!
PL: And if you could play any other Eastenders character past or present for one day, who would you choose?
LB: Umm, Pat Butcher! Or Lady Di (the Carters’ dog).
Eastenders is on Mondays and Fridays at 8pm and Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7.30pm on BBC1 and BBC1 HD.