EastEnders spoilers follow.
EastEnders star Kim Medcalf has explained Sam Mitchell's exit from the show. Sam bowed out of Walford in Thursday's episode (January 18), after burning bridges with her family and friends.
Kim reprised her role as Sam in 2022, after previously replacing the original Sam actress Danniella Westbrook during a three-year stretch from 2002 to 2005.
Here, Kim explains her exit – and whether we could see Sam again in the future.
We've just seen Sam leave Walford in dramatic fashion. What's this stint on the show been like for you?
"It's been brilliant, as always. It was perfect timing for me and worked really well that Sam was coming back for another short stint. That's the beauty of this character – I love that she comes in, disrupts things, and then leaves the debris behind her.
"This time, she's been chucked out the back of a van, taken £100k from Phil to pay back a drug dealer and then blown up his marriage to Kat. There's a lot of drama with Sam, and it's never plain sailing. Hopefully, she'll be back again some time for another stint of causing chaos."
Do you think the relationship between Sam and Phil is broken irrevocably?
"Funnily enough, I don't! I think it's possible that there could come a point in the future where Phil admits that Sam might have been wrong in how she did it, but the situation was all caused by his error. Sam didn't make up the fact he slept with Emma – she just exposed him and his deceit.
"If Phil had a moment of introspection, he might think: 'This isn't about Sam, it's about me'. So, if I'm being positive, I believe there is potential for them to repair things.
"The Mitchells are a family who go through a lot and are used to this drama between them. Right now, it feels very broken, and Sam realises it's best to cut her losses and try to start again somewhere else. But if you think about what Grant and Phil have done to each other, this is nothing."
Is it hard for her to leave Ricky?
"It is, and her decision isn't about not loving Ricky enough because she genuinely adores her son. It's just that Sam realises she's not welcome in the Square thanks to Phil, and she doesn't have a purpose. Everywhere she turns, Sam feels like she's getting it wrong and it's not the right fit for her.
"Plus, she can see that Ricky is thriving, and he's got Jack, Denise, Lily, and the Slaters, so she knows he'll be okay. Sam does love Ricky – he's what she's most proud of in her life."
What are your favourite things about playing Sam?
"I love playing Sam because she is so liberated. Sam just says what she sees; not many of us do that because you'd cause chaos! I don't think she is hugely devious. Instead, she's kneejerk in the moment. Sam doesn't have that filter others have, and that's fantastic to play. I respect her, honesty."
Do you like to see Sam's softer side?
"The writers have been great in showing her vulnerability, too. Sam is truly gutted when she is saying goodbye to Ricky. She's also had great moments with Zack, where she's been his ally through the HIV storyline.
"So, we've seen that there are vulnerable and caring sides to Sam, but she just doesn't take any nonsense, and she's not massively diplomatic."
What's it been like working with Steve McFadden and Jessie Wallace on Sam's exit?
"It's been so good. Any time you get a chance to work with them, you feel thrilled. I said to Jessie the other day that working opposite her immediately elevates any scene because she's so brilliant.
"Steve is amazing and has been doing this for such a long time. When I'm doing a scene with him, I feel like he is my brother because it feels so real."
What have been your Sam highlights over the past 20 years?
"I loved all the drama with Andy Hunter, where he marries Sam for her money and the Mitchell empire! There was a big scene where Sam finds out and bursts out crying, and Andy looks at her in this really cold way and says: 'My God, you are ugly when you cry'.
"I remember that really well because that was such a good moment. It was great being involved in Dirty Den's exit storyline and working closely with Tracy-Ann Oberman and Michelle Ryan. The dynamic of the three of us was great.
"I've loved all the stuff with Sharon and Kat this time around. Again, these are three strong women going for each other, so that's been brilliant. I love the friendship between Sam and Zack. Also, it's been great to have that experience of Sam having a child on the show and to play a different sort of mum to the one I am in my real life."
Have you taken any keepsakes from the set?
"I haven't, but what I'd really like is a shot glass from Peggy's!"
EastEnders airs on Mondays - Thursdays at 7.30pm on BBC One. The show also streams on BBC iPlayer, where most episodes drop early at 6am ahead of their TV broadcast.
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