EastEnders legend teases a surprising career AWAY from Walford

The Albert Square sign on the set of EastEnders
What is next for one of Walford's longest serving stars? (Image credit: BBC)

EastEnders star Natalie Cassidy has revealed she has plans for a new career move if her Walford character Sonia Fowler was to be suddenly axed. 

The actor, who took on the role of loveable Sonia when she was just 10 years old, admitted that if she wasn't in EastEnders then she would be doing something entirely different — like working in a restaurant! 

Natalie has played her Albert Square alter ego for three-quarters of her life, but that doesn't mean she takes being on EastEnders for granted. 

The star told The Guardian what she would do if her character was ever written out of the soap... "I always think, when I’m in a restaurant and have been looked after very well, I could do that front-of-house stuff very well."

EastEnders week 18

Natalie has played Sonia since she was 10 years old.  (Image credit: BBC)

It was recently confirmed that Lola Pearce (Danielle Harold), Stuart Highway (Ricky Champ), Dana Monroe (Barbara Smith), Peter Beale (Dayle Hudson) and Jada Lennox (Kelsey Calladine-Smith) would be written out of the soap as part of a cast shake-up. 

The major cast axing is part of new executive producer Chris Clenshaw’s plan to restructure the show... but thankfully Natalie has a backup plan if she was ever to find herself in a similar position. 

As well as working in a restaurant, Natalie also wouldn't rule out more reality TV and after appearing in Strictly Come Dancing in 2009 and Celebrity Big Brother in 2012 she admits she would never say never to I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! "Maybe you’ll see me in the jungle," she joked. 

"For the time being, though — and I never get complacent about this — I think Sonia’s part of the fabric of EastEnders. You have these big stars who come and go, but Sonia’s like the curtains or the walls or the wallpaper. You need that for the soap opera to work.”

Natalie Cassidy as Sonia Fowler by an Albert Square street sign in EastEnders

Natalie admits she never takes her job at EastEnders for granted.  (Image credit: BBC)

But that doesn't mean Natalie would be best friends with her character in real life: "Sonia’s dull. She’s boring," she admits. "But I like that about her."

Natalie also revealed she learned to respect her trade from a very early age: "It was a lovely place to work, especially with strong women like Wendy Richard (Pauline Fowler), Barbara Windsor (Peggy Mitchell) and June Brown (Dot Cotton). 

"This matriarchal group really shaped who I am. They were so welcoming and so professional. I’m never late for work or makeup because, like them, I know that you must respect the people who are on set 12 hours a day.”

EastEnders airs Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 7.30 pm on BBC One — see our TV Guide for full listings. You can also catch up on episodes on BBC iPlayer now. 

Claire Crick
Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch

Claire is Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch and has been a journalist for over 15 years, writing about everything from soaps and TV to beauty, entertainment, and even the Royal Family. After starting her career at a soap magazine, she ended up staying for 13 years, and over that time she’s pulled pints in the Rovers Return, sung karaoke in the Emmerdale village hall, taken a stroll around Albert Square, and visited Summer Bay Surf Club in sunny Australia. 

After learning some tricks of the trade at websites Digital Spy, Entertainment Daily, and Woman & Home, Claire landed a role at What’s On TV and whattowatch.com writing about all things TV and film, with a particular love for Aussie soaps, Strictly Come Dancing and Bake Off

She’s interviewed everyone from June Brown — AKA Dot Cotton — to Michelle Keegan, swapped cooking tips with baking legend Mary Berry backstage at the NTAs, and danced the night away with soap stars at countless awards bashes. There’s not a lot she doesn’t know about soaps and TV and can be very handy when a soapy question comes up in a pub quiz! 

As well as all things soap-related, Claire also loves running, spa breaks, days out with her kids, and getting lost in a good book.