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Relationships: I never could resist a man in uniform; KIM TAYLFORTH TALKS TO RICHARD BARBER ABOUT HER NEW LOVE, NEW ROLE, AND WHY SHE'LL NEVER FORGET THE DAY HER EASTENDER SISTER LOST HER LIBEL CASE.

W hen Kim Taylforth announced that she had met the man of her dreams, her mother was naturally curious to know more. "Oh lovely darling," she said. "What does he do?"

"He's a police officer, Mum."

And that's where the conversation took a turn...

"Oh no, not another copper," she said. "What is it with you, Kim?"

You see, Kim, younger sister of EastEnder Gillian and an established actress in her own right, never could resist a man in uniform. She says so herself.

Her first husband, Rod, was a fireman. After their divorce, she had a long relationship with a policeman before marrying another, Peter. So it's hardly surprising that her mother reacted in the way that she did.

Sitting in her neat town house in Bedfordshire, Kim, 42, gives a hopeless smile, as if to say... "Yes, I know". But this time, she says, she hopes it is for keeps.

When her second marriage failed after eight years, she had resigned herself to life as the single mum looking after two sons - Peter, now eight, and six-year-old Alexander.

Then 18 months ago she bumped into John Oliver, 48, a Chief Inspector with the Metropolitan Police in charge of traffic policing in North West London. They'd actually met 10 years earlier when Kim, then a uniformed police officer herself stationed at Holloway, North London, ran a five- a-side football competition for youngsters at Wembley.

"All sorts of bells started ringing," says Kim of that second meeting.

The timing, however, couldn't have been worse. Kim, who in the interim had been invalided out of the force and returned to her first love, acting, was about to take up a 16-week contract filming Brookside in Liverpool.

Luckily distance did make their hearts grow fonder. And, as Kim says: "John used to visit me as often as he could."

John has also been a huge support in helping Kim come to terms with what happened to her sister Gillian, aka Kathy Mitchell in EastEnders, several years earlier. Who can forget the 1994 libel trial in which Gillian sued a newspaper over allegations of indulging in oral sex on an A1 slip road - something she has always vehemently denied - and lost?

"It was a terrible time. I felt pulled in two," says Kim who was still serving in the police at the time. "When she lost, I felt as if I'd been let down by the judicial system and the police force. I can honestly say that for the 10 years I was in the force I looked forward to going into work every day. I adored my job. But what happened to Gilly made me so bitter. John and I have discussed it at great length. I'm fine with it now. I realise it was something that just happened. You have to move on."

Now, as well as focusing on her new relationship, she has her career to concentrate on too.

Kim, who once starred alongside her sister in Minder and the BBC2 comedy Operation Good Guys, will next be seen when Bad Girls, the hit ITV drama set in a women's prison, returns on April 4. And guess what, she's playing a woman married to a man in uniform - scheming prison warder Fenner, played by Jack Ellis.

"Fenner's a real pig," says Kim. "In one scene, I had to slap Jack in the face. I said, `Shall we do it for real?' He said, `Absolutely'. I thought, `Wrong thing to say to an ex-police officer'. I really pack a punch. The make-up lady kept having to cover up the rawness on his face."

Then it was her turn to feel pain. In one scene the phone rings and Kim's character hears Fenner making love to a female prisoner.

"I had to break down in tears."

Did she find that hard? "Not at all. I just kept thinking how awful it would be to hear John making love to another woman. I got a real knot in my stomach and that's when my eyes filled up."
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Barber, Richard
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 26, 2000
Words:674
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