EastEnders’ Lucy Benjamin talks Lisa and Phil reunion

Actress Lucy Benjamin has spoken some more about her return to EastEnders, while the soap has also released new images of her character, Lisa Fowler, with old flame Phil Mitchell.

Lisa made a dramatic return to Albert Square on Friday (21 July) after an absence of seven years to be with Louise (Tilly Keeper) following a candle catastrophe at the school prom.

Friday’s episode of EastEnders saw Louise admitted to hospital where Sharon (Letitia Dean), Sonia (Natalie Cassidy) and Bex (Jasmine Armfield) were informed she had suffered third-degree burns as a result of the flaming incident. As they comforted Louise who didn’t want to see Travis (Alex James-Phelps), they were stunned by the arrival of Lisa.

As the story continues Lisa does all she can to be there for her daughter but the Mitchells give her a less than welcoming reception. Louise’s reaction is the least of Lisa’s concerns however when Phil (Steve McFadden) arrives at the hospital. What will occur when the former flames come face-to-face once more?

Below Lucy Benjamin talks some more what viewers can expect as the drama unfolds:

Why is Lisa back?

Lisa is back because Sonia has called her as Louise has been involved in a nasty incident at the school prom. I think Sonia feels Louise needs her to be there. Louise actually asks for her mum in a state of upset, she’s a bit delirious. So I think Sonia realises it’s time that mum should be there really. Lisa should be given the choice about whether or not she wants to be involved.

What reception is she going to get from everyone?

I don’t think it’s going to be a great reception. On the whole, they think Lisa’s been a bad mum, she’s not been there for Louise. But I also think Lisa hasn’t been informed about what’s going on with Louise. She thinks Phil is looking after her and if things were going terribly wrong she’d know about it. Hence the minute things have gone terribly wrong, Lisa was informed. They think Lisa should have been around but for her own personal reasons, and the way it was left was Louise, Lisa thinks it’s in Louise’s best interest to have stayed away. But I don’t think Sharon will be particularly keen to see her for her own reasons. You’ve got Phil’s side of the family who want her to stay away, as does Phil. In Phil’s eyes, he’s got his daughter back and Lisa staying away is the best thing. So no one is going to be that pleased to see her.

What can viewers expect when Lisa and Phil come face-to-face?

There’s always going to be drama when Lisa is anywhere near Phil. There’s going to be fireworks. Phil isn’t Lisa’s favourite person in the world to be around. I think he’s a trigger for lots of things going wrong for Lisa. He’s not the sort of person that she needs to be around. But in true Lisa and Phil fashion, it will be quite explosive.

There’s a lot of history between Lisa and Phil, do you think she is still scared of him?

I think she’s dealt with who he is as a man, she knows him. But there’s always a worry that what’s going on in Lisa’s life that Phil triggers episodes of things going wrong for her. He’s someone she shouldn’t be around on any level. So she’s wary of being back near him and what he’s capable of doing. She knows the type of man that he is. I think she’s very wary and that’s probably put her off from coming back until now. But now she knows she has to deal with it.

Do you think Phil is to blame for how Lisa has behaved these past few years (leaving Lou etc)?

I think it is. I don’t think she’s ever really truly dealt with him initially taking her child away from her. I think that’s caused all of the problems going on in her life. The fact he got her into a state where she handed that child over. She did it, not freely, but she allowed herself to hand Louise as a baby over to Phil. I think she blames him for that and has never really dealt with it. It’s very much why Lisa is the way she is today.

Could they ever put the past behind them?

Never say never. I think adults should be able to sit in a room and talk about what it is that’s so wrong between them so they put that child first. I don’t think Phil and Lisa can ever be the best of friends or see eye-to-eye, but for the sake of their child, they should be grown-ups.

What about Lisa and Sharon, are there going to be fireworks?

There was history with Lisa and Sharon. There’s always been fireworks there. I think Lisa realises Sharon is the woman in Phil’s life and is the right woman for Phil. Sharon is such a lovely human being and such a great character. Lisa will realise she needs to get in with Sharon as an ally. That will probably help her get in with Louise. Of course Sharon’s no fool and will stand her ground and will tell Lisa in no uncertain terms what she thinks of her. But Sharon is able to move on from that a lot easier than Phil. She can have her say and have her piece and let people know how she feels. She’s a grown-up though, she’s lived. She’s made her own mistakes and is happy to move forward.

How is Louise going to react to seeing her mum?

Lisa feels very guilty about having left Louise and not being involved in her life. Fundamentally Lisa’s driving force is her unconditional love for her child. She knows she’s got some hard times ahead with Louise, explaining why she hasn’t been there. I think she just hopes her daughter will need her and see she’s better off having her mum in her life.

EastEnders, this week (24-28 July) on BBC One