EastEnders' Harry Reid: 'Gillian Taylforth's the perfect on-screen - she reminds me of my mum!'

(Image credit: BBC/Kieron McCarron)

EastEnders' Harry Reid is looking forward to the return of Gillian Taylforth as Kathy Beale and says she's the perfect on-screen mum for his character, Ben Mitchell.

But Harry explained his excitement about Gillian's arrival to Fiona Phillips on ITV's Lorraine today: "We've met a couple of times, [she's] a perfect on-screen mum for me, really is, reminds me of my own mum in many ways, very down to earth, just a very normal person, a really lovely person. I felt a real nice connection as soon as we met."

Today marks a year to the day since he filmed his first scene on EastEnders and Harry says his family is still adjusting to his new-found fame. "Obviously, it's still quite weird for them. My mum, she's dealing with it, but now she's the local celebrity at work and she just wants to get on with her life. But she loves it at the same time," he said.

"They're obviously very excited for me, they knew I wanted to do this. My nana Pearl made a public announcement in Tesco, she asked someone to announce it on the tannoy, so the whole of Ayr in Scotland know about it, apparently."

Harry said EastEnders was his first 'big gig and it's been amazing. I'd only been out of uni for a year and then I stepped into this..."

Was it daunting to start work alongside British TV icons? "Steve [McFadden] is a great bloke to work with. The character he's created with Phil is amazing. It's a beautifully rounded character. Obviously Jamie Borthwick, who plays Jay, and Letitia Dean, who plays Sharon, I'm surrounded by the heads of EastEnders, which is great for me because I'm learingng off of them."

He added: "Steve is timid. He's lovely, a bubby, happy bloke who loves his art, loves his craft, who's very method in his ways, but look at what he's done with Phil, incredible."

Ex-con Ben's just been arrested on suspicion of Lucy Beale's murder, a crime EastEnders fans know he didn't commit. His story continues on EastEnders on BBC1 on Thursday.


Patrick McLennan

Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix. 

An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.