Michelle: 'I'm no home wrecker'


Last updated at 11:02 20 May 2004

Michelle Collins is currently making her West End debut, which, she hopes, will prove once and for all that her days as a soap star are well and truly over.

She is still famous for the role of Cindy Beale which she played for 11 years in EastEnders, but in the six years since she left, she has proved wrong those critics who said there would be no life after soap for her.

She has taken the starring roles in several television dramas and series, such as Real Women, Daylight Robbery, Sunburn, Two Thousand Acres Of Sky and Sea Of Souls, playing a variety of damaged, vulnerable women.

But while she has managed to shake off her soap star image as far as her career is concerned, she hasn't been so fortunate in her personal life.

In the past few years she has hit the headlines for having affairs with married men and been branded a "marriage wrecker" just like the character she played in EastEnders.

Her most recent affair, which is now over after two years, was with cameraman Jonathan Beecham who, it was alleged, left his partner and 15-monthold son for her.

The 40-year-old actress insists that she is not a home-wrecker, implying that the men with whom she has been involved had already ended their previous relationships when they met her. Whatever the truth, it seems Michelle is stuck with her femme fatale image.

She says: "Unfortunately I've been tainted by the image of Cindy (Beale), the man-eater. But I have never been man-crazy and I don't have them falling at my feet.

"I want to be happy in a relationship and I want it to work out like every other woman..Of course I've made mistakes but I've never said I was Miss Perfect. I'm an actress, not a nun."

Of the current state of her love life all she says is "I'm not really in a relationship at the moment" but adds, teasing, "then again, I might not be single."

Michelle has never married, even though Fabrizio Tassalini (the Italian father of her sevenyearold daughter, Maia) did propose to her when she was pregnant.

Tempestuous relationship

Theirs was a tempestuous relationship which lasted 16 months and ended amid bitter recriminations but they have managed to forge a friendship.for the sake of their daughter.

She seems to have mixed views about marriage, possibly coloured by the fact that her father left her and her older sister, Vicki, when she was a baby.

Her mother, Mary, brought the two girls up, single-handedly, for 15 years, until she married their step-father Sid.

"Marriage should be fantastic but, sadly, it doesn't always work out," she says.

"I would love to meet someone I trusted enough to marry. If somebody had told me in my 20s that by the time I reached my 40s I still wouldn't be married, I would have been very surprised."

"Even now, I would be lying if I said that I didn't want to be married one day. But I don't want to be some.neurotic woman, desperate for a man."

Although she might not have sorted out her views on marriage, she clearly has no reservations about motherhood. She dotes on Maia, and takes her role as a mother very seriously.

"I try to be around for her as much as I can. When I'm not, I've got my mother and a young girl who works for me looking after Maia, so I know she is in safe hands. Her father lives in England so she sees him all the time.

"I think it's important for a child to have two parents who love her if possible. I'd like to have more children. Kids are so much more fun to be with than adults."

Thanks to motherhood, Michelle insists she has calmed down and that her days as a non-stop partying EastEnders wild child are over. Even so, photographs have appeared in the Press of her falling over drunk at parties and exposing parts of her anatomy that no self-respecting mother would want her daughter to see.

But the actress insists that such incidents are rare.

"There are probably three instances over the past three years where I have messed up. Yet, the other day, there was an article about 'nightclub mums' and I was included, even though I haven't been to a nightclub in three years other than to attend a first-night party occasionally.

"When I was in EastEnders, everybody partied. The Eighties and the early Nineties were much more of a party era. Now I'm more careful what I do and where I go. But I can't be on my guard all the time.

'I never party when I'm working'

"I never party when I'm working and, just because I have a few glasses of wine when I do go out, it doesn't mean I'm a lush. I work hard for a living. I have to because I'm a single mum. I'm a bloody good mum with a very happy child."

In fairness, Michelle Collins has worked hard to put her bad girl image behind her. Her charity work comes from genuine motivation rather than a desire to jump on the bandwagon.

Her work with Oxfam, in particular, has highlighted the plight of children in under-developed countries.

She is now an education ambassador for the charity and has recently completed a documentary for the charity.

Her career has gone from strength to strength with her name being synonymous with bankability. She was in the running to replace Helen Mirren in Prime Suspect but lost out to actress Amanda Burton.

She is now about to film a new TV drama , playing husband and wife with another EastEnders star, Martin Kemp, based on the true story of a man who fooled his wife into believing he had won £11 million on the Lottery.

She also has the rights to the story of the late Dusty Springfield whom she will portray on screen.

But first she is playing her first West End stage role in a revival of Rattle Of A Simple Man which is currently in the middle of a four-month run at London's Comedy Theatre.

Co- starring with Stephen Tompkinson, she plays Cyrenne, a prostitute with a troubled past.

She admits that she is nervous about the role but isn't as neurotic about her career as she was when she first left EastEnders.

Michelle, who turns 41 next month, says: 'In the past, I was paranoid about everything.

"After EastEnders, I felt I had a lot to prove. I'd just come out of a big soap, I'd had a child from a relationship that was all over the place and I didn't really know where I was going.

"I've learned from my mistakes and I'm more confident about my life and the future."

No comments have so far been submitted. Why not be the first to send us your thoughts, or debate this issue live on our message boards.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.

Who is this week's top commenter? Find out now