Interview extra

Lee RyanApril 11, 2017

EastEnders
Lee Ryan in EastEnders

He’s flirted his way through the Celebrity Big Brother house, and now Blue singer Lee Ryan joins EastEnders as cheeky barman Woody Woodward, roaring into the Square on a motorbike ready to break some hearts! TV Choice caught up with him at Elstree Studios to find out how he’s settling in at the Queen Vic, and what’s in store…

You’re wearing a gorgeous leather jacket. Is it yours or Woody’s?
This is my EastEnders outfit, but I chose it. I like it. Richard Blackwood [who plays Vincent], was like, why’s he got a nice jacket!

A lot of people say joining a soap is like hopping on a moving train…
Yeah! The pace is so fast. I go home and I’m learning scripts. I stayed up one night until 3am learning them and then got up about 5am for work. The last thing I wanted was to go on set and not know what I was doing! I’ve had acting experience – I did a film (The Heavy) with Christopher Lee and Gary Stretch about eight years ago, and that was a totally different thing altogether.

As a singer moving into soap, do you feel you’ve got a point to prove?
I feel I’ve got a point to prove on many points! Not just that point! We can list them if you want! Yes is the honest answer.

What can you tell us about Woody?
He’s a bit of a traveller, and when we did a character development session with [EastEnders’ boss] Sean O’Connor and the writers, they gave me a little bit more free rein to develop him. Woody’s got quite a sad past really with his family and a bereavement. He’s got a dark side but he’s not like Phil Mitchell, or Dirty Den from back in the day.

He’s a bit cheeky then?
He’s a lot more cheeky, yeah, which I love playing as it’s not too far away from me really. I just thought I'd play myself in this part!

What’s the welcome been like on set?
All the cast have been great! I love Shona [McGarty, who plays Whitney] – she’s an absolute darling, adorable and hilarious. I have a lot of scenes with Shona and we banter when we’re waiting around on set. Sometimes when we do a scene we’ve been giggling and laughing before the director even shouts, ‘Action’. There is a real connection of friendship and happiness.

Is it pretty amazing to come into EastEnders and be straight behind the bar of the Vic?
Yeah, me and Peggy Mitchell, right! I’m going to be on Pointless one day. They’ll say, 'Who managed The Queen Vic?' Top Pointless answer – Lee Ryan!

Is your little boy, Rayn, going to tune in?
He honestly said, 'I want to watch daddy', but I don’t think I can take sitting down every single night watching EastEnders! It’s because he likes playing on his computer. Obviously he’s seen me in Blue, and half the time when I’m singing he’s like, 'Oh shut up dad, I’m a better singer than you anyway!' But I think he will watch it.

What’s happening with Blue?
Blue might be doing another album. Right now we’re all talking about Blue and saying what should we do, where are we, and obviously that conversation’s been had with our managers. But we’ve been in the band for like nearly 17 years and it’s a little bit like, guys let’s just chill, let’s just put our brakes on it. Because we will always be Blue, so we haven’t got to rush out or try and jump on the back of anything. We know we have fans who want to hear Blue. If we do something then it will be the right time, not just because we’re all doing separate things that are doing well.

Do you want to focus on acting from now on?
Last year I wasn’t busy so I decided to make a solo album. My manager said, 'Why don’t you do an album, talk about some stuff that you’ve been through, speak about your experiences after Big Brother, after rehab?' so I thought all right I will! I’m just thinking whether I should put it out or not. On the acting front, I’ve got a horror movie that I’ve written and I’m producing and we’re almost green lit on that. But if I’m really honest, I’ve been picked up on EastEnders for two months and I would love to do more!

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Natalie Tambini

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