SHE claims to have pulled more than a million pints in the Queen Vic and has probably witnessed more East End bar brawls than the Kray twins.
So there’s nobody better placed to review EastEnders’ 35-year history than Walford stalwart Jane Slaughter – AKA Tracey The Barmaid.
Dubbed TV’s Most Famous Extra, she has built up a cult following online and is the soap’s longest-serving female cast member, having appeared on the first episode in 1985.
Over the years she has worked alongside many of Albert Square’s most legendary characters and iconic landlords.
For a barmaid, Tracey doesn’t have a lot to say on EastEnders, so today The Sun has given 58-year-old Jane a platform to pay tribute to the BBC1 saga ahead of its 35th anniversary.
Barbara has a special place in my heart
WHEN Barbara Windsor joined EastEnders in 1994 I was completely blown away.
I filmed a scene in the Vic with her and thought, ‘Oh my goodness, this is it’, and when she did her laugh it was like an out-of-body experience.
She took EastEnders to another level. She gave the Mitchells another dimension, she made them so strong.
But what was also great about Barbara was she was so supportive of other actors behind the scenes.
I was given three pages of dialogue out of the blue to have in a scene with a character called Sean Slater and she sat and helped me run through my lines, giving me the thumbs up.
She did that with lots of people.
Barbara has a special place in my heart, like she does with the public. She is so loved and that was clear when cast and friends ran the marathon to raise awareness for Alzheimer’s last year.
Viewer wanted to phone Grant
ROSS Kemp (tough guy Grant Mitchell) was hugely popular with female viewers.
When I was out on the street people would come up to me saying, ‘What’s it like working with Ross?’ or telling me I’m so lucky to be in his company. I would get it all the time.
He played a hard man but he was a lot softer than his screen brother Phil, which might be why he had a big female following.
Years ago I had someone ask me if I could give them the number for the phone box in Albert Square by Dr Legg’s surgery so they could speak to Grant.
Danny just as magic as Mick
I ADORE Danny Dyer (Mick Carter). Again, his impact was huge when he joined the programme in 2013, like a lot of other big characters coming into the soap.
He brought something so different.
His character Mick is a lovely, gentle and kind father figure who does his best for his family, whatever that meant.
I worked with the Mitchells, who – Peggy aside – were quite devious, but his family are more honest.
I’m of the generation that wasn’t aware of Danny’s previous work so I had no preconceptions about him when he joined. He’s a lovely guy.
Scenes that packed a proper punch
OF ALL the best bust-ups I remember Steve McFadden (Phil Mitchell) and Martin Kemp (Steve Owen) fighting all the way down the length of the bar, smashing everything up.
It was like a genuine East End punch-up.
Steve is an amazing actor. He has this brooding, real, dark energy and was genuinely terrifying when you’re doing a scene with him and you’re on the end of it.
He had a go at me, as Tracey, when Phil was drunk and I remember feeling so uncomfortable and like there was an actual alcoholic in front of me.
I just wanted to run away, I felt so scared.
He’s a very powerful actor but very funny behind the scenes. He has some bloody good one-liners.
A classic Doof Doof moment
THERE’S been so many great dramatic moments that trigger the ‘Doof Doof’ theme tune but I would have to go for Phil and Sharongate as my favourite, when Grant played an audio exposing Sharon and Phil’s affair in the Vic.
I remember standing behind the bar when it happened and I had goose pimples, and it’s not very often I can say that.
When you’re filming you don’t really feel the impact of the Doof Doof moments or you’re unaware they’re actually going to be used as one.
But that scene, you knew was going to be a definitive moment.
On June Brown
JUNE is an amazing actress who is so passionate about her character Dot.
Once we went all the way up to the Isle of Dogs to film a scene with the Queen Vic ladies’ darts team on tour.
It was me, Wendy Richard (Pauline Fowler), June and Gretchen Franklin, who played Ethel.
Ethel had stowed Willie the dog in her bag and I was sat next to her with this poor dog zipped up.
When she did the big reveal this hot, sweaty pug popped out. That wouldn’t be allowed now.
It's not always the Ender a character
MY favourite comeback was Letitia Dean (Sharon Mitchell) when she returned in 2001.
I was there in the scene and remember when she walked behind the bar and said something to Peggy and the look on Peggy’s face . . .
Gillian Taylforth (Kathy Beale) coming back in 2015 was a big moment too.
I was so lucky, as I got to take the phone call in the Vic and was part of the reveal.
The bringing-back-from-the-dead storylines are done really well. It’s good when you bring back big characters like that.
Truly spirited performances
THERE have been so many great storylines but the way writers have tackled alcoholism over the years has been brilliant.
Kellie Bright (Linda Carter) has done an incredible job, likewise Anita Dobson (Angie Watts) and Steve McFadden (Phil Mitchell) before her.
Kat Slater being abused by her uncle was so powerful – Jessie Wallace put in a great performance. I remember Childline saying it had more calls that week than ever after she revealed it.
She went on to have a great partnership with Shane Richie (Alfie Moon).
Love and hate of Den and Angie
LESLIE Grantham’s storylines as Queen Vic landlord Dirty Den Watts were unbelievable, with his love-hate relationship with wife Angie.
He used to say he had ladies hitting him with handbags on the street and people saying, ‘How could you treat Ange like that?’
He was a big character off screen too, but I got on fine with him – he was very easy to work with.
I was there when Den died in 2005, for real this time. It was so undignified – Sam Mitchell knocks me out and drags me into the bathroom and I’m slumped over the toilet while she tries to dig up murdered Den’s body.
Angie was a really powerful landlady, alcoholic, desperately dysfunctional and such a performance by Anita Dobson.
Frank role for comic Mike
I LOVED Pat and Frank Butcher, especially the comedy elements they brought with them.
Again, that was another iconic moment when Mike Reid joined the show as Frank in 1987, because he was a huge name in stand-up comedy that everybody knew and suddenly he was behind the bar, smoking a roll-up next to me, doing that laugh – another moment that I couldn’t believe was happening.
Karen will be a top character
LORRAINE Stanle (Karen Taylor) is without doubt one to watch among the cast.
She’s a very strong character who has that wonderful combination of incredible warmth and kindness and yet feels so real.
She has all the facets of somebody who will be a mainstay in EastEnders for years.
If she stays, I’m sure she’ll be- come a classic.
From flower stall to pulling pints
I GOT the role as Tracey on the first day of filming when (EastEnders writer and co-creator) Julia Smith, who I worked with when I was about 15, said she’d like me to have the flower stall. I later got the Queen Vic bar job.
I remember thinking, ‘This is a good six months’ work, even though I won’t get much to say’.
Back then I had ambitions of doing more, but sticking with Tracey has suited me the older I got.
As I had children, I got quite comfortable with being in and out of the show for a bit, so it’s evolved really nicely.
Every time I’m in a pub the bar staff are always like, ‘Can you come behind here and help?’
That’s when you release how big this show is. On most days people recognise me and they are so sweet. I never get anything other than warmth and interest.