'EastEnders' star Laila Morse reveals how soap co-star Wendy Richard saved her life

EastEnders stars Laila Morse and Wendy Richard on the red carpet
Laila Morse and Wendy Richard worked together on 'EastEnders'. (Image credit: PA)

EastEnders star Laila Morse has opened up about her cancer battle, admitting it was her former soap co-star Wendy Richard who saved her life by urging her to see a doctor after she discovered a lump on her breast. 

The soap star, best known for playing Walford's Mo Harris, will be taking on a challenge of a lifetime this Christmas in Strictly The Real Full Monty on ITV where she will be stripping off to raise awareness for cancer and urging people to get checked out by their doctor. 

Joining Laila in Strictly The Real Full Monty, which airs on ITV on Dec. 13 and 14, will be former Strictly Come Dancing pros James and Ola Jordan, Hollyoaks star Duncan James, Christine McGuinness, Colin Jackson, Brenda Edwards, Martin Roberts, and Love Island stars Teddy Soares and Demi Jones.

Speaking to us about the new show, Laila admitted that she had her own personal reasons for wanting to bare all.

She said: "I had breast cancer in 2000. Let's hope that people see this show and they go to the doctors and get checked out. I know a lot of people are frightened because they don't want to hear that diagnosis, that's the main reason people don't go.

Strictly The Full Monty

Laila will be stripping off later this month to raise awareness for cancer checks.  (Image credit: ITV)

Laila also admitted that she was initially reluctant to get her lump checked out by her GP and it was only because her EastEnders co-star Wendy Richard urged her to see someone that she eventually made an appointment.

"If it hadn't have been for Wendy Richard, I don't think I'd have ever gone [to the doctors]. I told her I'd found this lump and it was her that saved me. If I hadn't have bothered [booking an appointment] I wouldn't have been here to do this show today, so that's why I'm doing it."

Laila Morse as Mo Harris in EastEnders

Laila Morse as Mo Harris in 'EastEnders'.  (Image credit: BBC)

Fans will know that EastEnders legend, Wendy Richard, who is best known for playing Walford's Pauline Fowler, sadly lost her own battle with cancer in February 2009 years after being diagnosed with breast cancer herself. 

Laila and her Strictly The Real Full Monty co-stars are hoping that by baring all they can raise awareness of life-saving cancer checks. 

Everyone involved in the show has had their lives touched by cancer in some way, so the hope is to encourage viewers to check themselves for signs of cancer, something that is still considered a bit of a taboo topic. 

Strictly The Real Full Monty airs on Dec. 13 and 14 at 9pm on ITV.

EastEnders airs Mondays at 8.05pm, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7.35pm, and Fridays at 8.30pm on BBC1 — 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.