Diane Parish played a different BBC EastEnders character before Denise but found it ‘excruciating’

Actress Diane Parish once played a very different EastEnders character before taking on the role as Denise Fox in the soap, as she admitted she found it ‘excruciating’

The actress has played her legendary character since 2006 and has become a fan favourite. She has been involved in huge storylines over the years from a string of failed romances to faking her own death. Denise is currently dealing with the fallout of the Christmas Day murder as she buried Keanu Taylor’s body under the cafe alongside the rest of The Six.

However, it turns out Denise is not the first character Diane has played on the BBC soap. Back in 1998, the actress played singer Lola Christie, who was introduced as Mick McFarlane’s girlfriend. Diane has since revealed the character just wasn’t for her and found it “excruciating”.

Diane has played Denise Fox in EastEnders since 2006 

BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron)
Speaking on the TV programme Secrets of The Square, Diane said: “It was the most excruciating role. I don’t sing, I’m not a singer and it was horrible! Oh, it was awful. I remember Patsy Palmer came up to me at one point and she goes: ‘Oh don’t worry, it sounds really good, don’t worry about it’. I thought: ‘It don’t, Patsy!’”

Diane, who only played Lola for a year, added: “She goes: ‘No, it’s really good, it is!’ She’d just be so positive. The role wasn’t for me.” She went on to take roles in Holby City and DC Eva Sharpe in ITV drama The Bill. Dianne appeared on the show from 2002 to 2004 and starred alongside her future EastEnders husband Scott Maslen as DS Phil Hunter.

The actress scooped up the Royal Television Society’s Best Actress award in 2001, for her critically acclaimed role in TV series The Babyfather. Yet in 2006 she received a call from EastEnders bosses about playing Denise. Away from TV screens, Denise is a proud mother to two children; daughters Kaya and Kenya.


Denise previously played Lola Christie on EastEnders back in 1998 
When asked if she would ever consider having more children in the future, she told The Mirror: “No way! I’ve shut up shop. I’m done. I’m no spring chicken, you know. I feel very fortunate for having my lovely little girls. We’re a very happy family.” She shares her two children with her ex-husband Sebastian Parish, an IT specialist. Denise is generally quiet about her private life but revealed during an appearance on Loose Women in 2018 that she had split from Sebastian.

The actress explained that her marriage had been crumbling the last time she had featured on the ITV talk show, and she set the record straight when she returned as a guest on the show. She told the panellists: “The last time I was here, I sort of got a bit ambushed with [questions about marriage] and, for the sake of my children, I didn’t want to go into the break up with me and their father, and I’m usually quite a private person.

“I just wanted to protect my daughters by not discussing that, and I’ve been single quite a long time, I’ve been having fun, but I have now met the man of my dreams.” Denise met then-boyfriend Gerry Zucarello in 2017 and announced their engagement a year later.

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