UK Markets closed
  • FTSE 100

    6,630.52
    -20.36 (-0.31%)
     
  • FTSE 250

    20,961.31
    -334.89 (-1.57%)
     
  • AIM

    1,163.26
    -10.13 (-0.86%)
     
  • GBP/EUR

    1.1607
    +0.0010 (+0.09%)
     
  • GBP/USD

    1.3834
    -0.0060 (-0.4344%)
     
  • BTC-GBP

    36,507.87
    +1,394.51 (+3.97%)
     
  • CMC Crypto 200

    982.93
    +39.75 (+4.21%)
     
  • S&P 500

    3,841.94
    +73.47 (+1.95%)
     
  • DOW

    31,496.30
    +572.20 (+1.85%)
     
  • CRUDE OIL

    66.28
    +2.45 (+3.84%)
     
  • GOLD FUTURES

    1,698.20
    -2.50 (-0.15%)
     
  • NIKKEI 225

    28,864.32
    -65.78 (-0.23%)
     
  • HANG SENG

    29,098.29
    -138.51 (-0.47%)
     
  • DAX

    13,920.69
    -135.61 (-0.96%)
     
  • CAC 40

    5,782.65
    -48.00 (-0.82%)
     

Tracy-Ann Oberman: Fame made me the ‘unhappiest I’ve ever been’

Jayne Cherrington-Cook
·4-min read
Tracy-Ann Oberman experienced fame while starring in EastEnders, but says it wasn't for her (Image: Getty Images)
Tracy-Ann Oberman experienced fame while starring in EastEnders, but says it wasn't for her (Image: Getty Images)

Back in 2004, when Tracy-Ann Oberman joined EastEnders as Dirty Den’s second wife, Chrissie Watts, little did she know what the reaction would be to her new character.

The high-profile role, which saw 17 million people tune in to see her kill Dirty Den, made Oberman tabloid fodder. But with the fame came misery.

Speaking on White Wine Question Time, the actor said that the accompanying fame didn’t make her happy.

“Actually, it was the unhappiest I've ever been,” she revealed to host Kate Thornton.

“And it made me realise that that fame wasn't the answer – and that the most famous people A-listers that I knew were some of the unhappiest.”

Listen: Tracy Ann Oberman talks about working with Kenneth Branagh on her new radio play

Oberman went on to cite her long working hours as one of the reasons she hated the success.

“I was doing 28 scenes a day on the show. I was working five days a week,” she recalled.

“I literally had got married and never seen Rob at all. The chances of having a baby were probably none. I just worked and worked and worked, and the fame didn't mean anything.”

Read more: George Michael searched Shirlie and Martin Kemp's house for 'EastEnders' spoilers

Prior to joining EastEnders, Oberman, 54, had been a jobbing actor for 12 years, starring alongside Sir Kenneth Branagh on stage, while also appearing in TV sitcoms alongside the likes of Michael Barrymore and Lenny Henry.

Tracy Ann-Oberman married music producer Rob Cowan in 2004 just as she became famous for playing Chrissie Watts in EastEnders. (Image: ARTHUR EDWARDS/AFP via Getty Images)
Tracy Ann-Oberman married music producer Rob Cowan in 2004 just as she became famous for playing Chrissie Watts in EastEnders. (Image: ARTHUR EDWARDS/AFP via Getty Images)

She told Thornton that the moment she was nominated for a Best Newcomer award at the National Television awards was pretty surreal.

“I'd worked for so many years and I got nominated as Best Newcomer and I'd been acting for like 12 and a half years,” she exclaimed.

“I remember at the National Television Awards, I was up against a 10-year-old boy from Corrie!”

LONDON - OCTOBER 26: Actor Sam Aston poses with his award for Most Popular Newcomer at the 10th Anniversary National Television Awards at the Royal Albert Hall on October 26, 2004 in London. The star-studded awards ceremony awards prizes as voted for by members of the public. (Photo by Dave Hogan/Getty Images)
Sam Aston poses with his award for Most Popular Newcomer at the NTAs, 2004 (Dave Hogan/Getty Images)

Oberman actually lost out to child star Sam Aston who played Chesney in Coronation Street and said being on the front cover of magazines may have sounded great but it just wasn’t for her.

Read more: EastEnders star Natalie Cassidy sick of being 'leaned over' in shops

“Other people kept telling me how amazing and successful and famous I was, but I didn't feel that,” she admitted.

“I had no life. It sounds really ungrateful, but I was just happy doing a play above the Finborough Arms that I loved, or a radio play that fed my soul.

Tracy-Ann Oberman, seen her with the cast of EastEnders at the Inside Soap awards, said fame wasn't all it was cracked up to be (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)
Tracy-Ann Oberman, seen her with the cast of EastEnders at the Inside Soap awards, said fame wasn't all it was cracked up to be (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

“What do they say? One for the meal, one for the reel. You need to pay money, but you also want to have one for the reel, which feeds yourself. People who want to be famous, I think there's a lot of emotional holes that need filling.”

When she first decide she wanted to be an actor, studying at the Central School of Speech and Drama, her father warned her that she would spend her life “in a bedsit with a cat for company.” Consequently, she says she’s been happy with just working.

Read more: Rachel Riley and Tracy Ann Oberman drop libel case against barrister

“Every day that that hasn't happened to me, I feel like I'm winning at life,” she laughed.

“I had very low expectations of what success was - I just wanted to work and work and work. I had a very realistic, wide peripheral vision.”

She’s currently appearing in Channel 4’s hit drama, It’s A Sin, and says her definition of success is now solely based around self-acceptance.

She told Thornton: “I really believe it's just staying sane, healthy, whole, and accepting yourself — and enjoying your work and enjoying your life - but not always compare and contrast, wishing you were somewhere else, wishing you could be somewhere else.

“Just accept where you are and accept where you're at. Have goals and dreams, but you're not a total failure if those things haven't happened.”

Hear Tracy-Ann Oberman talk about why she’s willing to risk her career to deal with Twitter trolls on the latest episode of White Wine Question Time. Listen now on iTunes and Spotify.

Watch: Eastenders star Lucy Benjamin remembers the late Barbara Windsor