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'EastEnders' star Maisie Smith opens up about ‘emotional’ exit from the soap

Tiffany Butcher in EastEnders
Tiffany is about to say a fond farewell to Walford. (Image credit: BBC)

EastEnders star Maisie Smith has opened up about her upcoming departure from the soap as Tiffany Butcher-Baker. 

The 20-year-old actress has played Tiffany on and off since she was six years old, and her character will wave farewell to Walford in the coming weeks. 

She admits that her final scenes with co-star Shona McGarty, who plays Whitney Dean, were particularly tough.

“Shona and I literally cried the whole way through and after; we got so emotional,” Maisie reveals. 

“We’ve said goodbye on the show before, the first time around, like six or seven years ago, but it was even harder this time because we’ve built such a lovely sisterly bond. 

“It was a sad couple of weeks because we film out of order, so I had my last scenes with people spread across a month. 

"It was sad with everyone, but Shona I’ve known since I was a little girl when she would carry me on her hip, so that for me was a really hard moment.”

She continues, “EastEnders is such a wonderful place to work. There’s always someone to talk to in every room. 

“I came back a few days later to clean out my dressing room. I could have cleared it beforehand, but I wanted to come back and see everyone.”

EastEnders young Tiffany

Child star: Maisie Smith joined 'EastEnders' way back in 2008. (Image credit: BBC)

Tiffany is the product of a one-night stand between Ricky and Bianca Butcher, which was shown on the EastEnders’ spin-off show Ricky & Bianca in 2002. 

However, Bianca was in a relationship at the time with trucker Nathan Dean - Whitney’s biological father - and was unsure of her daughter’s paternity for some time. 

Tiffany later arrived in Walford in 2008 with her mother, Whitney - whom Bianca raised as her own following Nathan’s death - and siblings Liam and Morgan, when the family were evicted from their home.

The character was written out in 2014, when Bianca moved to Milton Keynes with partner Terry Spraggan, but Tiffany later made a guest return in 2016 for Whitney’s wedding to Lee Carter, and was re-introduced on a permanent basis in 2018.

Her big storylines have included being groomed into drug-dealing, tying the knot with Keegan and, more recently, issues with body image.

EastEnders Tiffany

Chasing perfection: Tiffany used cosmetic fillers in a bid to look 'perfect' on her social media posts. (Image credit: BBC)

Adds Maisie, “I think she’s become a very strong character. She’s been through a lot. She’s even had her own struggle with herself and insecurity. 

“She’s quite an inspirational character, especially considering everything she has been through.” 

On-screen, Tiffany is currently dating newcomer Aaron Monroe in the wake of her split from Keegan, but in scenes to air later this month, she will call time on the relationship when he becomes aggressive.

She and Keegan will then reconnect, and Tiffany will admit to Whitney that she still loves her estranged husband. 

EastEnders Keegan Tiffany

Getting closer: Keegan (Zack Morris) and Tiffany (Maisie Smith) will reconnect after Tiffany splits from new boyfriend Aaron. (Image credit: BBC)

However, whether a reunion is on the cards remains to be seen - it is certainly looking unlikely given Tiffany’s departure.

“Tiffany and Keegan are soulmates,” says Maisie. “They were meant to be together from the start, they’ve been through so much together and they make each other stronger.

“It would obviously take some time to work on their relationship, but I think ultimately, they’re meant to be together.” 

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. You can also catch up on episodes on BBC iPlayer now.