EastEnders actor James Farrar, who plays Sharon’s brother Zack, spills the tea on working with Letitia Dean and bringing his wife to work...
EastEnders legend Sharon Watts got the shock of her life last month when she pitched up at her hated dad Gavin’s funeral found out she had a brother!
Zack Hudson caused a stir at Gavin’s wake where he made no bones about how much he hated his evil dad, and now he is about to appear in Walford with some unfinished family business.
But will he and Sharon find they have more in common than a damning opinion of their dad?
"I manifest a lot in my life – not just as an actor. I feel as if my cup is always half full," says James.
"Since March 2020 I told myself everything was going to be fine.
"If an actor doesn’t tell themselves that you’d find it hard to wake up each morning!
"I had quite a successful lockdown period in work but EastEnders was by far the highlight."
Having joined the soap during the pandemic, James has been schooled in the show’s new ways of filming, including the all-important two-metre rule.
Keeping it in the family
Playing a ladies-man, a part which requires occasional close contact, James has been bringing his wife, Ali Roff Farrar (a journalist and wellness and yoga teacher), to work for those scenes.
But Ali has also been Zack’s punchbag!
"My wife has been coming in regularly because you can't come within two metres of people.
"So say there's a kiss, say there's punch, that will be Ali a lot of the time," laughs James.
The couple has taken the opportunity to revel in the feeling of being on the EastEnders set, soaking in the huge moment in their lives.
"We were in the Vic at one point," reveals James. "Ali just turned to me and said, 'this carpet – Barbara Windsor has walked on this carpet'. And I looked at her and we just had goosebumps. It's so recognisable, and it's special. I feel quite blown away.
"You think that having watched it for years and it being one of the biggest shows in the world... for me to be part of it. I feel truly blessed.
"The other night I just sat on the bench in the Square and thought 'this is surreal and special'.
"I’m looking forward to the sun coming out in summer and realising that we can sit out there hopefully, and have lunch together."
Working with an EastEnders icon
"Tish (Letitia) has had my back from day one – whether I need something on set or if I had a question which I didn’t feel comfortable to ask," says James.
"I really look forward to working with Tish every day. She is incredible. I will thank her until my dying day for how she has treated me.
"We text, we call. She was the first person to text me after my first appearance. She said: 'you stole the show, you were a sight for sore eyes'. I really look forward to doing more stuff with her"
For their characters, the future is just starting to unfold. But James says Zack is desperate to have a good relationship with his sister.
"Zack adores Sharon from the moment he steps foot on the Square and finds out what she is about.
"She looks after people, she's selfless and she's an entrepreneur like he is.
"I have a feeling they will probably end up running businesses together and their intention is to take on the world together.
There are going to be lots of ups and downs, but I hope a lot of it is ups. Sharon deserves it."
EastEnders airs Mondays at 8.05pm, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7.35pm and Fridays at 8.30pm on BBC One - see our TV Guide for full listings.
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