EastEnders star Natalie Cassidy promises new direction for Sonia

EastEnders spoilers follow.

EastEnders star Natalie Cassidy has promised happier times for her character Sonia Fowler.

The fan favourite has been tipped for a new romance storyline when Dot Branning’s great-nephew Reiss Colwell arrives in Albert Square next week.

Reiss arrives in Walford to pay his last respects to Dot at her funeral, but there’s an unexpected outcome when he strikes up a bond with Sonia.

Speaking to Digital Spy and other media at a recent EastEnders press event, Natalie explained: “It’s so clever what the writers and [executive producer] Chris Clenshaw have done, because Sonia’s been a bit miserable.

Related: EastEnders producer addresses missing characters in Dot Branning’s funeral episode

“She has not only been miserable, but she hasn’t got anyone. You have to remember that she’s a nurse, she works really hard, and she’s got Dotty on her case all the time. Dot’s not been around – now she’s saying goodbye to Dot and being very upset.

“But then having this shining beacon of light coming in, I feel like it’s going to be a really exciting time.

“I won’t give much away but I would say, in the stuff I’ve been doing lately, I really feel that you’re seeing the comedic side of Sonia come back and the light.

“I really am enjoying playing her and I think it’s really special.”

sonia fowler, eastenders


Related: EastEnders boss explains Sonia Fowler focus in Dot Branning’s death storyline

Natalie went on to praise Dot’s funeral episode, which airs in a specially-extended timeslot on Monday (December 12). Sonia takes a central role as she struggles with how best to pay tribute to Dot at the service.

In real life, the story was written in after the legendary June Brown died at the age of 95 earlier this year.

Natalie said: “I see it as something that you have to sit down and watch. It’s a moment in television history and I think everyone should sit with a small glass of sherry.

“I think this is absolutely needed for June’s send-off, Dot’s send-off, to sit down with your family and say: ‘This is a piece of television that’s very, very special’.

dot branning in eastenders


Related: EastEnders‘ Dot Branning to get special ending theme in funeral episode

“I was very, very close to June. She taught me a lot and to be at the helm of the episode, is not only an honour but a huge responsibility. After reading it, I was thrilled and I thought ‘I’ve really got to do it justice’. It’s just an honour for me to be at the helm of it.”

Reflecting on her off-screen friendship with June, Natalie added: “There’s a lot of memories. When I was 14 or 15, we used to go to lunch in the canteen and we’d chat away.

“I was a young teenager but I loved old company. I had older parents as well, so I was always around older people. I’m a bit of an old soul. So instead of going to lunch with the youngsters I was working with, I’d spend time with June, Barbara [Windsor] or Pam [St Clement].

dot branning in eastenders


Related: EastEnders cameos for June Brown’s real-life children in Dot’s funeral episode

“With June, I spent hours in the dressing room, talking about her life and she taught me so much. Mostly to listen to other people, which is the biggest secret of acting, I think. She used to say: ‘Every sentence you say is a song, never be flat. It’s like a tune, try to slow it down, pace it up’. I’ll always take that with me.

“We had such fun. We used to go on holiday together. She used to stay at my flat. We had a two-hander episode when Sonia gave Bex away – the adoption story. We had a couple of nights at my flat where we had a curry, drank a bottle of wine and went over our lines. I’m such a lucky, lucky woman to have had the training from the best.”

EastEnders airs on Mondays – Thursdays at 7.30pm on BBC One. The show also streams on BBC iPlayer.

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