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Musical Martine aims for the top; Martine McCutcheon has left the Vic behind and wants to be Britain's Celine Dion. JOHN MILLAR reports.

THERE won't be a dry eye in the house on Tuesday night as millions of soap fans mourn the passing of Tiffany Mitchell.

The funeral of the tragic character, who went from one trauma to another, will be the main focus of this episode of EastEnders.

And 22-year-old Martine McCutcheon admits that she's felt a touch of sadness at saying goodbye to Tiffany, after playing her for three years.

"I am going to miss Tiffany - she's made me what I am now. I have made lots of friends and I am going to miss them so much," says Martine.

But the actress has no regrets about quitting Albert Square because she's now embarking on the most exciting part of her showbiz career.

Martine, who started out as a 16-year-old member of all-girl pop outfit Milan is returning to the world of music.

This time, though, she is being supported by one of the top record companies because she's been snapped up by Virgin, the label which boasts the Spice Girls on its roster.

Martine has signed a pounds 1million plus recording deal which is intended to shape her into Britain's answer to Celine Dion.

So things are going to be very different from six years ago when she was having to rough it on the road with Milan.

Martine looks back on those days with a philosophical smile.

"Because we weren't anyone, we were treated terribly," she says. "But I looked on it as a bit of fun and as a way of getting to know about things."

She was obviously a good learner because Martine proved that she has what it takes when she gave a knock- out one-woman performance at the Royal Albert Hall.

After that show, several of the country's biggest record labels were tempting her to sign with them.

So now she has her juicy record deal and the good times are set to roll for the youngster who knows all about surviving the hard side of life.

Martine's childhood was spent scrimping and scraping as her mum, Jenny - who brought her up on her own - struggled to make ends meet.

"We were absolutely skint," says Martine. "The highlight of the weekend was watching musicals on TV. It was a black- and-white TV because we couldn't afford anything else.

"Every now and then the picture went green, because we used a coathanger as an aerial."

Tuning into the glamour and excitement of showbiz was a form of escape for the youngster, who was starring in little shows that she staged in her living room when she was only nine years old.

"Now I'm at my happiest when I'm up on stage being someone else - someone that everyone loves," says Martine.

Right now she's concentrating on her singing career but it's only a matter of time before Martine returns to the TV screen.

She enjoyed playing Tiffany in EastEnders and has admitted that she's looking forward to expanding her acting talents.

"I want to try everything, " she says.

"I don't want to get to 60 and look back and say, `I wish . . .'"

Drama of the week: London's Burning

THE Blue Watch boys blaze back on to our screens with a new look for another eight episodes of high drama.

For the first time the Watch will be seen wearing the new London Fire Brigade uniforms (which will be seen for real later in January on London's fire-fighters) in maroon and yellow.

The shock of Nick's death has hit Blue Watch hard, although Chris is desperately trying to rally the troops. At the Ship Aground, Maggie turns up with Marianne, who flares up at Chris and blames him for Nick's death.

Chris's guilt has driven him to clear his debts with Terry, and George comes clean about his job moonlighting at Terry's club.

Blue Watch are thrown into the thick of a perilous call-out involving a man trapped in a silo.

The decision to cut him out is a life and death one and there's a close call for Sicknote.

Pearce makes a moving speech about Nick at the pub and is further moved when Fiona reappears. But will she stay this time, or is Pearce's love life doomed again?

Film of the week: The Parent trap

UNCLE Walt, in his wisdom, may have decided to remake this Hayley Mills classic recently, but as far as nostalgia goes, the old ones are still the best.

In the 1961 original, child star Mills plays twins Sharon McKendrick and Susan Evers who, unknown to their divorced parents, meet up at a summer camp.

The girls eventually discover they are long lost twin sisters. They switch places to meet the parent they never knew, and then contrive to reunite them.

As with all Disney classics, there is a happy ending, despite all the odds.

Soap of the week: Eastenders

RUTH (Caroline Paterson) is pregnant. Dr Legg (where'd he spring from then?) confirms it and the Scottish one goes off on one.

We all knew this was going to happen, didn't we?

Yes, it seems that Conor has well and truly left his mark, as it were.

Poor Mark (Todd Carty). You can imagine what sort of state he's going to be in when he hears the news. But will he? Will she keep the baby or not? Will she leave the square without telling anyone? Will Conor care? Who knows?

Everyone else has a hell of a lot on their mind in Albert Square as Tiffany is laid to rest, and the secrets that would be better buried with her are not ...
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Millar, John
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jan 9, 1999
Previous Article:Whatever happened to; moonlighting 1986-89.
Next Article:Misery that baffles the experts.

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