EastEnders viewers have witnessed Natalie Cassidy, 37, come in and out of the soap as her iconic character Sonia Jackson, turned Fowler, since she arrived in Albert Square in 1993. Reflecting on the first time she decided to take a break from the soap, she said Steve McFadden, 61, who plays Phil Mitchell, urged her to rethink her decision.
She revealed: “When I was thinking of leaving when I was 18, I remember sitting down with him.
“He said, ‘Listen, you don’t know what you’ve got here, you don’t want to go anywhere, there’s nothing better than this, trust me’.”
Despite his plea to get her to stay on the soap, she had a meeting with bosses and went ahead with her decision.
After telling the Phil Mitchell star of her decision, she joked her colleague refused to speak to her.
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She added: “I came back and said, ‘Steve, Steve, I done it.’
“He said, ‘What have you done,’ and I said, ‘I’m leaving.’ He wouldn’t talk to me.
“And when he says this story he still gets annoyed now, he says, ‘She just never listened to me, she completely ignored my advice’.”
She added on BBC show Secrets from the Square: “He was right.”
Addressing her future on the soap, the actress said she would like to see Sonia strike up a romance with Phil.
“It’s a strange one, but I’m going to say it, I would have loved Sonia and Phil to get together,” she divulged, prompting host Stacey Dooley to laugh.
She added: “No, no I’m being serious because it’s all for selfish reasons, but I love working with Steve.
“You’ve got to up your game, and he’s such a nice guy to work with. He always helped me from a very young age.”