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I'm TV's biggest bitch .. thanks to the bullies at my school; ENDERS STACEY'S SECRET TORMENT.

Byline: EXCLUSIVE By DANIELLE LAWLER TV Correspondent

TV'S most terrible teenager, Lacey Turner, has revealed how she was a real-life victim of vicious playground bullies.

Day after day the EastEnders star - who plays superbitch Stacey Slater - would cower behind the bike sheds as the other kids chased after her, taunting and teasing her for being "geeky".

Every lunchtime she would sob on the phone to her mum distraught at the relentless bullying she suffered during a year at stage school aged just 10. Eventually she begged to be allowed to go to a local girls school where she settled in quickly. She continued drama classes outside school.

But now 17-year-old Lacey - in her first-ever newspaper interview - says she has her bullies to THANK for her amazing success.

It's difficult to believe that the attractive, confident youngster sitting across from me could ever have been a victim. But she says: "Being bullied was horrible - I cried a lot. But what doesn't break you makes you stronger.

"You always draw on experiences in your life when you're acting so I thought about how those girls were bitchy with me and used it in Stacey.

"I was always the geeky one and a group of cool girls bullied me. They never hit me - it was name calling...'You're this and you're that'."

Lacey - who was nominated for Best Bitch and Best Newcomer at last week's Soap Awards - says: "I love playing Stacey - although if I met her on the street I'd be terrified.

"I think I've proven you can get over being bullied. And I haven't seen any of those girls with a job, so I think I've done OK. I was lucky I had a brilliant mum to talk to. If anyone else is in my position I'd tell them to talk to someone they trust - don't go through it alone."

Now Lacey, who grew up in London's East End, has more friends than she knows what to do with. Her fan mail, especially from lovestruck teenage boys, is piling up so high she hardly finds time to open it.

"It's strange when you become famous how everyone comes crawling out of the woodwork - suddenly you've got 500 friends you never knew you had. Luckily I've got a group of five mates who I've known for years - I can trust them."

She says she's not interested in having a boyfriend...just yet. "I'm too young. The only date I took with me to the Soap Awards last week was my nan Silvie."

She is clearly close to her family. With her first pay cheque she bought presents for mum Bev, dad Les and younger sisters Daisy and Lily. But being a soap star is not easy, as Michelle Ryan - who plays her on-screen cousin Zoe - knows only too well.

Michelle also started on the show when she was just 16 - and later suffered from stress. Lacey says she has been brilliant at passing on advice - "Michelle has really looked out for me."

Lacey tells how terrified she was when she first started at EastEnders.

"One of my first scenes was kissing Ricky Groves (who plays Gary Hobbs). I was really nervous and it was so weird. I'd never snog a bloke who was that old." In fact Lacey says she wouldn't do most of the things that Stacey does. "She is such a bitch. But I love that. I can act out all the things I'd never do myself. The most I've ever got told off for at home is shouting and singing too loud in the shower."

dannielle.lawler@sundaymirror.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

Lacey believes her ordeal at the hands of stage school bullies has helped her play Stacey; Picture: NICHOLAS BOWMAN; Stacey and Zoe in one of their screen confrontations; Stacey and Gary's kiss
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 15, 2005
Words:635
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