Charlie Brooks on her EastEnders character: 'I often wonder what Janine has been up to'

Jayne Cherrington-Cook
·3 min read
Charlie Brooks said playing Janine Butcher in EastEnders was
Charlie Brooks said playing Janine Butcher in EastEnders was "so much fun." (Image: Getty Images)

With recent rumours circulating about the return of Janine Butcher to Eastenders, actor Charlie Brooks has said she often wonders what the villainous character has been up to during her years away from the soap.

Brooks played Janine for 15 years and has been widely tipped for an Albert Square comeback in a “huge story” later this year.

Janine killed two husbands during her time on the show and was last seen boarding a train to Paris at St Pancras station in 2014.

Brooks, who was the third actor to play the character, said that she’s often thought about her in the seven years since she left the BBC soap.

Speaking on White Wine Question Time she said: “I love Janine - I always wonder what she's been up to.”

Watch: Charlie Brooks on having her ex living upstairs

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While Butcher was a definite love-to-hate character on the show, Brooks said she had great affection for her and went as far as defending some of her actions.

“Oh, she's good fun,” she told podcast host Kate Thornton.

She continued: “I think it's really important to sympathise with your characters - and for me, she became so layered because I honestly believe she's completely misunderstood in so many ways, although she does get more and more difficult to defend. That is where all the juicy stuff is, you know.”

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During the podcast, Thornton revealed her close friend Kate Ford, who plays villainous Tracy Barlow in Coronation Street, once unwillingly made a little girl cry after meeting her.

“This little girl walked in and took one look at Kate and cried and hid under the table,” said Thornton.

“She said, ‘She's a murderer!’ and Kate was so upset.”

In response to the anecdote, Brooks wondered if this was why she’d been single for a while.

“There's a reason I think I’ve been for single for four years - men run away from me,” she said.

Since leaving the show, Brooks has done a variety of TV and theatre roles and more recently has set up her own website, iampro, a training platform for actors and those working behind the scenes in film and TV.

Charlie Brooks killed off her first husband Barry Evans, played by Shaun Williamson, during her first stint on Eastenders. (Photo by Rod Johnson/Getty Images)
Charlie Brooks killed off her first husband Barry Evans, played by Shaun Williamson, during her first stint on Eastenders. (Photo by Rod Johnson/Getty Images)

In the podcast, which was recorded before the rumours of Janine’s return, Thornton quizzed Brooks on whether she would ever like to play the infamous character again.

Brooks said: “Never say never.

“I'm always interested to think about what she's been up to because she's so fun - and there's so much you can get away with - but who knows what the future holds?”

Hear Charlie Brooks discuss why she went into I’m A Celebrity – and why she was surprised to win – in the latest episode of White Wine Question Time. Listen now on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Watch: Charlie Brooks talks about playing Janine in EastEnders