Original article no longer available
May 15 2007
IT’S LITTLE more than a year since ex-EastEnders actress Elaine Lordan lost her one-year-old son, James, to lung disease.
Just nine months earlier her 62-year-old mother Bernadette threw herself in front of a Tube train.
Few can imagine how it feels to lose two of your loved ones within the space of a year but Elaine, who played Lynne Slater in the soap until she was axed in 2004, does not want to be labelled ‘tragic Lordan’.
“I’m not tragic,” she insists.”I never think, ‘Why me?'”
Her baby, diagnosed with a diaphragmatic hernia that had allowed the bowel to grow into the chest cavity, squashing the heart and lungs, had numerous operations and seemed to have turned the corner when he took a turn for the worse. Elaine hadn’t seen his death coming any more than she’d seen her mum’s.
More heartbreak followed earlier this year when she reportedly suffered a miscarriage, but she remains philosophical about trying for more children.
“If it happens it happens,if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I’ve got three very beautiful stepchildren in my life who I love.”
The 40-year-old star is extremely guarded, wary of the press who,she thinks,hounded her when she was in EastEnders,filling their pages with lurid tales of her problems with booze,her affair with married father-of-three Pete Manuel (to whom she is now married), and then doorstepped her mercilessly at her Islington home just two days after her son died in December 2005.
Ask Lynne how she has coped since the deaths of her mother and son, she says simply,”I’ve coped. You’ve just got to ride the storm.”
Although her mother’s inquest concluded that she took her own life, Elaine doesn’t accept it.
Her mother had been taking new medication for depression which was making her legs shake, she hadn’t slept properly for ages and was totally exhausted.
She’s reluctant to talk about the cloud under which she left EastEnders in 2004 because she is worried her comments will be taken out of context.
“I’ve nothing bad to say about EastEnders. I’m very proud of the time I spent there.”
But in the book she details her affair with Pete, a studio resource manager, how their affair soon became common knowledge to those on the set and that her drinking was never as much of a problem as the tabloids made out.
A number of drink-related incidents,including a drink-driving charge, caused embarrassment to the EastEnders executives – and was the beginning of the end for Elaine in the soap.
Her attempts to resurrect her TV career have so far not come to much. A brief excursion into the jungle in I’m A Celebrity,Get Me Out Of Here, saw her fainting and being removed from the show prematurely for health reasons.
Another TV comeback in January ended in tears when she became the first contestant to be booted off Soapstar Superstar.
But Elaine is a survivor and is still hopeful that her acting career will take off once again, although she doesn’t make plans any more.
“Now, I think, I have managed to get back on my feet again, after a fashion. It’s just a different life from what it would have been if Mum and James were still here.”
* Whatever It Takes, by Elaine Lordan, is published by Ebury press, priced £16.99. Available now.