Eastenders’ Lindsey Coulson ‘proud’ as she recalls playing soap’s first mixed race couple in ‘breakthrough moment’

Finding your place in the acting world after leaving an iconic role on a soap isn’t always easy, but Lindsey Coulson has managed it. She played EastEnders’ Carol Jackson on and off for 22 years before starring in her final episode in 2015.

After her character dealt with the death of her son, fought cancer and even discovered her daughter was having an affair with her partner, Lindsey, 60, felt she had done all she could on the show. Now she is playing tough police boss Sarah Tanner on Bulletproof.

Although she cut her ties with the soap, she will always have a connection. Lindsey married her on-screen daughter Patsy Palmer’s brother Harry Harris, and the couple have daughter Grace, 19, while Lindsey is also mum to Molly, 27, from a previous marriage.

Here, Lindsey tells OK! magazine how she selects her roles and why she hasn’t stayed in touch with her EastEnders cast mates…

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Are you happy with your career so far?

I’m privileged to have managed to make a living out of acting. As I’m getting older, the roles are actually getting more exciting. I thought by now I’d be hung out to dry and need to retire, but I’m still getting to play these great characters. Women are definitely being written better now – it’s not just granny in the corner. I was lucky on EastEnders as soaps are very female-centric. As long as the script has integrity and some sort of depth I’ll consider any part.

What’s it like working with Noel Clarke and Ashley Walters [co-creators and lead actors] on Bulletproof?

I’ve got a lot of respect for them and I think they have for me. They are individuals who’ve really had to push their way through this industry. It’s been hard for them as two young black men, but they’ve got so much integrity. I’m proud to be on a show with two black men as the leads, but also because they are two wonderful human beings. I am also proud to have been part of the first mixed race couple on EastEnders. That was quite a breakthrough moment in the 90s.

What was the reaction?

The sad thing is I remember one of the producers having to take me aside to prepare me for a potential backlash. I said, “Bring it on.” It was a pivotal moment in television, and lots of people would come up to me and say how amazing it was to see a family like theirs on telly. It shouldn’t be underestimated how valuable it is to see something that reflects your own situation on TV. I only got one negative letter and that was mainly because they didn’t like me. We didn’t have social media then so that might have shielded me. The only thing I would change about my character is how much she slapped her kids.

What was the attention like on you then?

It was a little crazy because at that point there weren’t reality TV stars to take any of the attention. I actually had a nice moment recently when someone came up to me and said, “Are you from Bulletproof?” I’m happy to meet fans of EastEnders, but it was nice to be recognised for what I’ve done since.

Are you still happy with your decision to leave the soap?

It was the right time to leave because I’d done everything that was true to that character. I enjoy my life now and I don’t want to go back to that pace. I don’t want to be learning that amount of lines again.

Have you kept in touch with anybody from EastEnders?

Yeah, Diane Parish [who played Denise Fox]. I had good intentions to keep in touch with lots of people but life goes on.

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How do you think Covid-19 is going to affect the industry?

I don’t know how it’s going to work with social distancing, but there are lots of clever people working on solutions. Luckily we finished filming the next series of Bulletproof in South Africa before it all happened. I came back to the UK on 6 March and went into lockdown. Right now I’m just enjoying gardening and reading. I think my younger daughter has had enough of me. I like having the breaks in between projects and just spending time with my family.

Bulletproof Series 2 is out on DVD and digital 8 June, with the 1 & 2 Box Set following 15 June

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