EastEnders' Laila: 'Wendy Richard saved my life'

EastEnders' Laila: 'Wendy Richard saved my life'
EastEnders' Laila: 'Wendy Richard saved my life' (Image credit: PA Archive/Press Association Ima)

EastEnders' Laila Morse (opens in new tab) has revealed how co-star Wendy Richard saved her life from breast cancer. Laila - who plays Big Mo in the soap - discovered a lump in her breast in 2001, but was too scared to confront the problem until Wendy, who played Pauline Fowler and had battled cancer herself, encouraged her to go to the doctor. Laila revealed in her autobiography Just A Mo: My Story, serialised in the Daily Mirror: "Wendy frowned and told me I needed to get it checked. Stupidly I wanted to ignore it. When Wendy rang and asked how I got on, I lied and said it was fine. I could tell she didn't believe me. So I went to the doctor, for Wendy. And as it turned out my lovely friend saved my life." Sadly Wendy died aged 65 in 2009 when the disease returned. Laila said: "I still miss my lovely friend every day." The 67-year-old single mum of two also revealed her secret battle to save her heroin-addict son. Speaking about her 44-year-old son Gerry for the first time Laila revealed she was even reduced to driving Gerry to drug dens and buying him drugs, to stop him robbing and stealing. And Laila also talks about her relationship with her brother, Hollywood star Gary Oldman. She said: "People ask what it's like to have such a famous brother. But he ain't famous to us, he's our Gal. It's lovely to go and visit and he's been really generous, but LA's not my cup of tea. He's not into all that red carpet 'fame' stuff either."

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.