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EastEnders star Gillian Wright: 'Jean’s cancer storyline has changed me'

EastEnders star Gillian Wright as Jean
(Image credit: BBC / Kieron McCarron)

The emotional plot has provided some valuable life lessons...

EastEnders actress Gillian Wright has opened up about playing Jean Slater’s cancer storyline, and revealed that the emotional plot has prompted her to try and “live in the moment” a bit more.

Jean was diagnosed with stage three ovarian cancer earlier this year, and the character has since undergone surgery and several rounds of chemotherapy treatment.

EastEnders Kat Moon and Jean Slater

Jean at a chemotherapy session earlier this year in EastEnders (Image credit: BBC / Kieron McCarron)

Whilst she was initially terrified about the future, viewers have seen the struggling mum steadily find an inner strength and resolve to get her through her ordeal.

Gillian tells us: “Jean has grown enormously, and learnt to be brave on many occasions and for many reasons – particularly at this time, when her son and daughter aren’t around and she’s going through what she’s going through.

“The side effects of the treatment are the most debilitating, and she has found a strength of character because she has got through it, so far.”

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Asked if the plot has changed her, personally, Gillian adds: “Yes it has, actually. I’m definitely trying to be present. I always thought I was very good at living in the moment but I can’t tell you the number of times when I’ve thought ‘Where’s your head at, girl?” as I’m walking the dog and thinking about an argument I should’ve had!

“So I’m learning to be better at living in the moment, and teaching myself to not get so stressed about stuff, like DIY situations; to try and just work things through so that you achieve the end result you want.”

Jean and Daniel take a ride on his motorbike

Biker duo: With fellow patient Daniel in EastEnders

The 59 year old star, who has been a fixture in Walford on and off since 2004, was speaking about her role as it was announced she had won the ‘Favourite Soap Star” category in this year’s TVTimes awards.

Speaking of her win, Gillian says: “I am over the moon, it was a huge surprise because I didn’t even know I was in the running.

“I feel like I’ve had my best year ever on the show. It’s just great if you feel you’ve been honoured with some responsibility, and I’ve had lots of lovely little adventures along the way.”

The full list of winners of the 2019 TVT Awards will be revealed on 30th November.