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SOAP MUMS; How screen mothers and daughters really get on after cameras stop rolling.

Byline: COLLEEN WILSON

PLAYING a mum and a daughter in soap is never going to be dull.

More than any other on-screen relationship, be it on the Square, in the Dales, on the Street or in Night and Day, soap mums and their little girls seem to spend half their lives bitching, arguing, disagreeing, squabbling and, in general, just rubbing each other up the wrong way. So Mother's Day is the perfect time to give soap mums and their screen kids the chance to forget their problems and show the world the other side of their relationship - the one kept strictly behind the scenes.

Here, EastEnders Barbara Windsor and Kim Medcalf, who play Peggy and Sam Mitchell, Night and Day's Lysette Anthony and Stephanie Leonidas (Roxanne Doyle and Della Wells), Emmerdale's Freya Copeland and Vicky Binns (Angie and Ollie Reynolds) and Hollyoaks' Kathryn George and Sarah Dunn (Helen Cunningham and Mandy Richardson) reveal how they really get on - once the cameras have stopped rolling.

Despite their on-screen bickering, it turns out that all four partnerships enjoy deep friendships away from the set.

To find out more about your favourite soap, and the stars, pick up the current edition of Inside Soap, on sale now.

NIGHT AND DAY

Lysette Anthony and Stephanie Leonidas

(Roxanne Doyle and Della Wells)

NIGHT and Day's mysterious mother and daughter Roxanne Doyle and Della Wells have a pile of secrets.

But off-screen, the relationship between Lysette Anthony and Stephanie Leonidas could not be more open.

"I recently became single again," says Lysette. "And Stephanie has been giving me loads of great advice about the dating game. In return, I try to share my years of experience - I'm 38 and she's 18, but I don't try to be mumsy. We're just great friends."

Stephanie says: "Lysette is a mum to everyone on set. But I see her more as a big sister, because we have a real giggle together, and she's not as strict as a real mother.

"We socialise and always have fun. But all my screen family are protective of me. If I'm going out, Kevin Sacre, who plays my brother Dennis, will demand to know where I'm off to and when I'll be back."

Lysette first found fame in the 1980s, starring in the popular sitcom Three Up, Two Down, alongside Angela Thorne and Michael Elphick.

And she reveals her relationship with her former screen mum influenced her friendship with Stephanie.

She says: "Angela took me under her wing, which I've always been grateful for.

"So I spend time with all the kids, but Stephanie is special - as an actress she's instinctive and hard-working, and as a person she's kind and good-natured. I think our relationship will last for life, like my bond with Angela."

Stephanie says: "On screen, Roxanne and Della are very close and they look out for each other. It feels the same with me and Lysette, because although we've only worked together for 10 months, it's as if we've known each other for 10 years. I love her."

EASTENDERS

Kim Medcalf and Barbara Windsor

(Sam and Peggy Mitchell)

JOINING the cast of a soap is daunting enough for any actor, but to step into the shoes of another actress is twice as hard.

Luckily, help was at hand for EastEnders newcomer Kim Medcalf when she took over the role of Sam Mitchell from Danniella Westbrook, as her screen mum, Carry On legend Barbara Windsor, explains.

"It was difficult for Kim," says Babs. "I took over the role of Peggy Mitchell from another actress, so I know what it's like.

"However, it was much tougher for Kim because Danniella - who I am still close to - was so popular and her life is always in the papers.

"Kim does ask my advice, and after 51 years in the business, I give good advice - at least, I hope I do. And I think Kim will be very popular as Sam." The EastEnders role is Kim's first television job and she admits it is very strange to have an instant on-screen family, especially with a showbiz legend playing your mum.

"It is weird to have Barbara Windsor as my mum. It makes my own mum laugh," says Kim.

"Barbara is fantastic, she's so professional, loves her job and does it very well. She has helped me out a lot. I am very privileged to be working with her - it's great."

When Kim first started on the show, the pair made an effort to spend some time with each other away from the cameras.

"We filmed for the first time together in Spain, so we went out and got to know each other over a few drinks," says Barbara. "But when you go back to normal, working in the studios, you lose all that - especially since we have gone four nights a week. Everyone is just so busy."

While Peggy may be one of TV's best-known mothers, showing her maternal side is not something that comes naturally to Barbara.

"I'm not a mother myself so it was difficult to get my head round it," she admits. "In fact, I'd never held a baby before EastEnders. I had to ask Patsy Palmer (Bianca Butcher) to show me how to do it."

Peggy hasn't had an easy time with her children, and Kim's version of Sam is no exception.

"Sam is man-mad, a lot like Peggy when she was younger," reveals Barbara. "Peggy is a bit blinkered, but she knows her children aren't angels. It is lovely to have another Mitchell now Sam's back."

Kim, 27, agrees and hopes Peggy and Sam will have a less rocky relationship this time around.

"Peggy and Sam are both strong characters and are very similar," she says. "You get a bit of sparring, but they are looking out for each other. Peggy likes to boss Sam around - but Sam can give as good as she gets."

EMMERDALE

Freya Copeland and Vicky Binns

(Angie and Ollie Reynolds)

DADDY'S girl Ollie Reynolds has given mum Angie more than her fair share of grief.

Off screen, it's a different story for Freya Copeland and Vicky Binns, who play the mother and daughter. They've been a tight team since they met on Vicky's first day of filming.

"Freya had already been on the show for a while," says Vicky, 19. "She asked me loads of questions, and wanted to know how old I was. When I told her I would turn 17 the following month, she said, 'Oh, OK - I'll stop patronising you, then.'

"When I first started, people thought I was younger than I am and treated me differently. Freya was always fighting my cause, and I love her for it."

Freya, 32, says: "We've always got on. Although I'd done a lot of acting, Vicky had done more television than me. So neither of us felt as if we were better than the other.

"At times she's been a complete rock - I've gone to her in tears before now and she's been a really good friend. We don't see a lot of each other outside work.

"But when we do, Vicky dances like a mad woman and so do I, so we always end up dancing together. We text each other a lot, too. It's great, having her there."

Back in Emmerdale, however, it's a different story. The pair have had some fiery arguments.

Freya says with a laugh: "Obviously everything went a bit pear-shaped when Ollie started sleeping with Cain Dingle while he and Angie were having an affair. Ollie is a teenage girl and that's never easy."

Vicky also sticks up for her screen mum. "I think it would be easier for Angie if Ollie hadn't had such a close relationship with her dad, Sean," she says. "She and Angie were never really able to develop a bond."

But the actresses don't always see eye to eye about their characters.

"We row about Angie and Ollie all the time," says Vicky. "I think Ollie's right, and Freya sides with Angie."

But Freya and Vicky are both hoping the pair's on-screen relationship will become as close as their own.

HOLLYOAKS

Kathryn George and Sarah Dunn

(Helen Cunningham and Mandy Richardson)

WHILE Hollyoaks mother and daughter Helen Cunningham and Mandy Richardson have had a tough time since the tragic death of Helen's beloved son Lewis, the pair are now slowly rebuilding their relationship.

And no one could be more delighted at this reconciliation than actresses Kathryn George and Sarah Dunn.

"Having to do all those scenes where we shouted at each other was horrid," says Sarah, who plays Mandy.

"But because I trust Kathryn, I didn't mind her hitting me for real when it happened in the script - it looks so much better on screen that way.

"Mind you, she might be little, but she's tough."

Kathryn agrees. She says: "We get on well. Sarah is very caring and generous and with someone as professional as her, you can giggle, do your work, then giggle all over again.

"I don't have kids, but if I did, I'd want a daughter just like Sarah.

"Our approach to life is quite similar, and we do have girly chats about boyfriends and life, but Sarah is so mature I often think she is the one who is looking after me."

So as their relationship on screen returns to the closeness of the past, how does Sarah explain their off-screen friendship?

She says: "Maybe my brain is telling me that Kathryn's a mother figure.

"And even though she's older, we're on the same wavelength - and she's the best person to gossip with.

"My real mum and screen mum are quite similar.

"They're both laidback - but it's funny, when I go to work, my mum says, 'Oh, you're going to see your second mum, are you?'"
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 10, 2002
Words:1639
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