Stars of Bad Girls reunite for show’s 25th anniversary

Bad Girls reunion

Bad Girls stars Debra Stephenson and Victoria Alcock reunited to celebrate the 25 year anniversary of the iconic prison drama on ITV.

Debra, who played Shell Dockley, and Victoria, who played Julie Saunders, joined Coleen Nolan, Linda Robson, Olivia Attwood-Dack and Brenda Edwards on Loose Women this week to discuss the legacy of the show, the storylines that have stayed with them and whether a new series could return to screens in future.

Opening up on the impact the hard-hitting prison drama had on its audience, Victoria said: “Representing people that had never been represented on telly before, we became an ally, and that was absolutely brilliant. So many people from over the years have come up to us and said, ‘You’ve changed our lives, we saw ourselves on telly’.

“And the Bad Girls fans – shout out to them, amazing, beautiful people – but it’s changed them as well. I think for women it was amazing, it was brilliant because it was a female led drama. The format was great, you had the prison and you could have wonderful guests coming in and out, following prison officers and following our lives, it constantly changed.”

Discussing the storyline that has stayed with her, Debra opened up: “The pregnancy storyline was the toughest because I was pregnant, I honestly gave birth about four weeks after I left the show, so that pregnancy tummy was real and my son Max is now 21…

“It does feel like a very long time ago but that pregnancy storyline was the hardest one to deal with because I was so hormonal and I had to actually give birth with a midwife standing by. I thought, ‘I’m just going to have to do the worst acting that I’ve ever done…’.”

Olivia asked: “In case you went into actual labour?”

Debra continued: “Yeah, because the way you’re trained is that you take it from the cerebral, off the paper and into the body, and that you embody that character in that moment and I thought, I can’t afford to do that so I had to cut myself off.”

Adding: “So that was the birth, but when they took the baby away [during filming], that just got me and it was about ten years before I could talk about it without bursting into tears.”

Victoria agreed that the show “dealt with some big issues.”

Jack Ellis, who played prison officer Jim Fenner, also joined the women virtually and revealed how he dealt with playing his ‘evil’ character: “That’s a very good question, I’m an actor, it’s my job, and I had to do it quite regularly. It does get to you a little bit so what I tended to do, I enjoyed very much finishing work and getting on the tube and getting back into life, seeing that life isn’t really like that.

“To be honest, I’m not really like a method actor as [Debra] and [Victoria] will verify but I have to say, after about five series, it got a bit wearing and it got to the point where I had to leave.”

Discussing if the iconic series could make a comeback with new episodes, Debra said: “We would have all moved on to different prisons wouldn’t we… I think the way it actually works, prisoners don’t stay in the same place, so I’m not sure if it would actually work as something to come back to.”

Victoria added: “I think we all love the characters…”

Loose Women airs weekdays from 12:30pm on ITV1 & ITVX.

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