Peter Gill, playwright and theatre director
Clare Wilkie interview
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EastEnders girl joins the Festival

Does Clare Wilkie miss life among the EastEnders in Albert Square? To be honest, it doesn't sound like she does at all, writes John Highfield, The Sheffield Star, 29 May 2002

"EastEnders was never going to be a long-running thing for me," she says with a shrug. But it was great while it lasted,

Clare played Sandra DiMarco, who arrived in Walford to kick up a stink with estranged husband Beppe DiMarco over the custody of young son Joe and then stayed on to become the PA to struggling tycoon Ian Beale, hardly the most glamorous appointment in the soap world.

She left the show just over a year ago and admits: "There wasn't much more they could do with her — I was never a character in my own right, I was a character attached to Beppe.

"The hardest thing was when you didn't have a big story line, but you were going in once a week to ask for a cup of tea in the cafe.

"I think I did it for the right amount of time. Sometimes I do miss the money and I do miss the security that a job like that gives you -but I think that things have probably worked out for the best."

And there are some elements of Soap life that, as she now concentrates more on theatre, she insists she will definitely never miss.

"The media side of it was quite nerve- wracking," she says.

Apart from EastEnders, Clare has a string of television appearances to her credit, covering everything from The Bill to David Copperfield.

"I've spent a lot of my career doing television but I'm now into my fourth play and I'm enjoying theatre work because it's more an acting community, all working together, though I enjoy television because I know what I'm doing — and the money's better!" She's currently working with the starry line-up of the Crucible Theatre's Peter Gill Festival, joining Stephen Billington, Claire Price, Christopher Fulford and Alan Gilchrist in Studio production Mean Tears, the story of a relationship between two men and the women in their lives.

"The girl I play is probably the most sorted out of all the characters," she says. "It's a brilliant play and so well-written — it's just a great festival to be a part of."

  • The Peter Gill Festival runs at the Crucible from May 23 to June 22

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