Carol Harrison claims EastEnders bosses made her feel ‘suicidal’

Carol Harrison claims EastEnders bosses made her feel ‘suicidal’

Former EastEnders star Carol Harrison has lashed out at producers of the show and accused them of making her feel ‘suicidal’ amid a clash over ‘sexist and ageist scripts’.

The actress, 65, who played Tiffany Mitchell’s mum Louise Raymond in the nineties, has spoken out against the BBC soap and says the toxic atmosphere on set eventually led her to have an emotional breakdown.

Carol, who was 42 when she portrayed the character, told The Mirror how she had seven crunch meetings with producers over the way she was treated, with the drama having a serious impact on her health.

Furious: Former EastEnders star Carol Harrison has lashed out at producers of the show and accused them of making her feel 'suicidal' amid a clash over 'sexist and ageist scripts' (pictured in 2018)

Furious: Former EastEnders star Carol Harrison has lashed out at producers of the show and accused them of making her feel ‘suicidal’ amid a clash over ‘sexist and ageist scripts’ (pictured in 2018)

Carol was axed from EastEnders in 1999, after just a year on the show.

Discussing her treatment at the hands of producers at the time, she told the publication: ‘I was told, “We don’t care about women over 40. They are not our audience. There is no interest in them”

‘It left me shocked at how ageist and misogynistic they were. They told me to just get on with it and be grateful.’

The TV personality went on claim that the stress of her trying to please show bosses through her character led her to suffering blackouts, putting on weight and having suicidal thoughts which first occurred when she was a teenager.

Anger: The actress, 65, who played Tiffany Mitchell's mum Louise Raymond in the nineties, has spoken out against the BBC soap and says the toxic atmosphere on set eventually led her to have an emotional breakdown (pictured in character in 1999)

Anger: The actress, 65, who played Tiffany Mitchell’s mum Louise Raymond in the nineties, has spoken out against the BBC soap and says the toxic atmosphere on set eventually led her to have an emotional breakdown (pictured in character in 1999)

Carol explained that she ended up on antidepressants and went to therapy following her time on the show, which she says made her feel like a ‘has-been’.

During her time on the soap, Carol was involved in several explosive storylines, namely the affair with Tiffany’s husband Grant Mitchell, of which Tiffany subsequently learned of via a baby monitor – a plot which which one the soap a BAFTA.

However, in the six months that followed, Carol recalled many scenes in which she believed reeked of ‘ageism and misogyny’.

She told of a scene in which Louise’s then lover Gianni Di Marco found a bottle of her hair dye in the medicine cabinet, leading him to brand the character ‘nothing but an old granny.’

So sad: Carol, who was 42 when she portrayed the character, told The Mirror how she had seven crunch meetings with producers over the way she was treated, with the drama having a serious impact on her health (pictured in 2018)

So sad: Carol, who was 42 when she portrayed the character, told The Mirror how she had seven crunch meetings with producers over the way she was treated, with the drama having a serious impact on her health (pictured in 2018)

Shock: Discussing her treatment at the hands of producers at the time, she told the publication: 'I was told, "We don’t care about women over 40. They are not our audience. There is no interest in them"

Shock: Discussing her treatment at the hands of producers at the time, she told the publication: ‘I was told, “We don’t care about women over 40. They are not our audience. There is no interest in them”

Carol remarked that this was ‘demeaning’ to the characters and viewers of a similar age. 

While another scene saw Grant snap at Louise and remark why would he be with her when he could have Tiffany, despite his character being just five years younger than hers – with Carol adding that his line was ‘ridiculous.’

Going on to discuss the difficult times she faced in the wake of her clashes she had with producers, she added: ‘I had about seven meetings with executives. My relationships with them became toxic and I started feeling ill…  I was working 7am to 7pm and had my little boy Alfie and husband Jamie. I’d go home and cry.’

Oh her suicidal feeling, Carol told how she ‘never let them’ go beyond thoughts and ‘knew the signs’ due to her past battles.

Tough time: 'It left me shocked at how ageist and misogynistic they were. They told me to just get on with it and be grateful'

Tough time: ‘It left me shocked at how ageist and misogynistic they were. They told me to just get on with it and be grateful’

Impact: Carol explained that she ended up on antidepressants and went to therapy following her time on the show, which she says made her feel like a 'has-been'

Impact: Carol explained that she ended up on antidepressants and went to therapy following her time on the show, which she says made her feel like a ‘has-been’

Carol’s comments come in response to the news that Dot Cotton star June Brown had quit the BBC soap amid reports she was unhappy with her scripts.

The mother-of-one gave her verdict on the news, stating that it ‘smacks of ageism’ and that June’s character Dot was ‘diminished’. 

An EastEnders representative declined to comment when approached by MailOnline. 

Carol’s words come after she claimed last year that the soap axed her aged 42 because she was ‘past it’ as she said she went from ‘desirable to desperate’.

The star appeared on This Morning back in April and revealed she discovered her contract was ending through the press. 

Ructions: Carol's character Louise was embroiled in several scandalous storylines, including having an affair with her daughter Tiffany's husband Grant Mitchell (Ross Kemp), with Tiffany (Martine McCutcheon) finding out over a baby monitor

Ructions: Carol’s character Louise was embroiled in several scandalous storylines, including having an affair with her daughter Tiffany’s husband Grant Mitchell (Ross Kemp), with Tiffany (Martine McCutcheon) finding out over a baby monitor

Toxic atmosphere: 'I had about seven meetings with executives. My relationships with them became toxic and I started feeling ill' (pictured with former husband Jamie Foreman in 1999)

Toxic atmosphere: ‘I had about seven meetings with executives. My relationships with them became toxic and I started feeling ill’ (pictured with former husband Jamie Foreman in 1999)

She told Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield: ‘The fact was, I was in my 40s and the role was so powerful, she had this affair with a younger man…

‘It’s that stigma about an older woman, that you are kind of cougar. I suddenly went from desirable to desperate.

‘When I came out [of the show], I couldn’t understand it at first. It was very confusing. It was like, “Where are the parts?”

‘There weren’t that many parts for a woman like me at that age. Suddenly they dried up.’

Carol said the situation was even more confusing because she thought she had done such a good job in the soap.

Axed: Carol's words come after she claimed last year that the soap axed her aged 42 because she was 'past it' as she said she went from 'desirable to desperate'

Axed: Carol’s words come after she claimed last year that the soap axed her aged 42 because she was ‘past it’ as she said she went from ‘desirable to desperate’

Speaking out: Carol told Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield, 'The fact was, I was in my 40s and the role was so powerful, she had this affair with a younger man... I suddenly went from desirable to desperate'

Speaking out: Carol told Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield, ‘The fact was, I was in my 40s and the role was so powerful, she had this affair with a younger man… I suddenly went from desirable to desperate’

She said: ‘I thought I did really well, I thought I played her really, really well. If you are rubbish, you get it.

‘I felt a real sense of rejection. Acting has always been my first love and suddenly it’s unrequited… I was offered some parts but they were all very similar… the description [for the roles I was offered] was “mutton dressed up as lamb”.’

She added that she learnt she was being let go from the soap by reading it in the papers.

She said: ‘The new Executive Producer came on board and I guess when someone else comes in, they want to make their changes.

‘A lot of people found out in the newspaper. I thought, “How terrible”, and then the next week, there I was.’

Candid: She said: 'The driving force was ageism and classism. There were jibes in the ­script about why would anyone want to go with Louise when she was so old

Candid: She said: ‘The driving force was ageism and classism. There were jibes in the ­script about why would anyone want to go with Louise when she was so old

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