RITA Simons says she’s desperate to rejoin EastEnders – and it’s “a shame” new boss Kate Oates can’t bring her and Sam Womack’s late characters back to the soap.
Sam and Rita’s respective alter-egos, no-nonsense sisters Ronnie and Roxy Mitchell, met their maker when they tragically drowned in a swimming pool in January 2017 – meaning it would be tough for them to return.
But the best friends still regularly meet up in real life, which gives EastEnders fans a fright when they realise the pair aren’t really dead.
Rita told us: “I don’t want to say I’m disappointed we were killed off, but it’s a shame she [Kate Oates] can’t bring me and Sam back. I’m sure Ronnie and Roxy returning at some point, whether it was now or in 10 years, would’ve made such a huge impact.
“But that decision was taken out of anyone’s hands when we were killed. Me and Sam are really tight. I see her all the time. Ronnie and Roxy will never die in real life!
“Funnily enough, when we’re together people go crazy. It’s really funny. They’re convinced we are dead, and we’re not. They’re like, ‘Oh my God, they lived’.”
Sam previously blasted the move to kill off Ronnie and Roxy – who first arrived in Walford in 2007 – as “short-sighted” and admitted she entered a “period of mourning” following their departures.
While the sisters – who were bumped off by former series producer Sean O’Connor – are now long gone from Albert Square, Rita is still inundated with EastEnders super-fans contacting her who are “outraged” about their exit, and admits she misses her former co-stars “massively”.
“We’ve been gone nearly two years and I still get, as fresh today as the day we died, people coming up to me in the street outraged about it,” she said. “They say, ‘Why did you go?’ And, ‘I can’t believe they killed you.’
“It’s funny because it’s been two years already, but I see it as freshly today as at that time. In a way it’s lovely that we made such an impact that people still remember. People think it was just yesterday.
“I’m not disappointed anymore, but I miss my EastEnders family massively. I loved that place. The thought of maybe going back there in 10 years would’ve been amazing, but it’s not to be.”
Despite missing trips to the Queen Vic, Rita doesn’t switch onto BBC One to see what the goings-on are in Walford, because she “doesn’t have the concentration” to watch soaps.
The 41-year-old star – who most recently appeared as Lisa Prescott in The Krays: Dead Man Walking, the latest movie about the notorious East End gangsters – said: “I’ve not had time to watch an advert, let alone EastEnders.
“I’ve been so busy working. If I had time I don’t watch soaps anyway. I watch box sets. I don’t have the concentration to watch too much TV.
“I wouldn’t have seen it even if I was watching TV because I just don’t have the concentration.”
As well as developing a penchant for gangster movies, Rita has got a taste for musicals since appearing as Paulette Bonafonte on the UK tour of Legally Blonde the Musical last year.
And she has now set her sights on landing a role as Bette Midler’s character C.C. Bloom in a new version of 1988 comedy-drama film Beaches, in which she thinks Sam would be the perfect candidate to portray Barbara Hershey’s lawyer alter-ego Hillary Whitney.
She said: “I’ve got this thing about playing Bette Midler. I want to play her in Beaches. Legally Blonde was my first musical theatre and I didn’t realise how much I loved musical theatre until I did it.
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“Me and Sam could do it together. She would be the lawyer and I would be Bette Midler. I love Bette Midler. We were on tour and me and Sam were talking and said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to do Beaches?’ ”
While Rita admits it wasn’t her “favourite decision” to kill off Roxy, she looks back on EastEnders with good memories, and is “grateful” to the soap for giving her a platform to explore other opportunities.
She said: “I always say I am grateful to EastEnders and I do love the place and I look back on it fondly.
“Yeah, we were killed and it wasn’t our favourite decision, but if it wasn’t for EastEnders I wouldn’t be doing all the work I’m doing now.”
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