In an appearance on Loose Women earlier this week, Harrison explained that the role had left her typecast.
“It was a difficult time,” she told Ruth Langsford, Brenda Edwards, Janet Street-Porter and Jane Moore.
“I took myself out of the spotlight because a lot of the parts I was being offered were strangely these same sorts of parts; older women who were predatory on young men. I wanted to play what a woman in her 40s would be, who’s seen a bit of life, sassy and taking on the world, and with a bit more experience.”
She continued: “In some ways I really wish I hadn’t have taken that part because I’d never really been typecast before. At first it was fabulous because she was all of those things that us glorious women are when we get over 40, which was sassy and outspoken, but it went downhill. I loved Louise at the beginning, but I didn’t like the way that women of that age were being represented and I felt some sort of responsibility to it and I felt helpless. It was the regime at that time, I don’t think it’s like that any more.”
Louise memorably embarked on an affair with her son-in-law Grant Mitchell (Ross Kemp) with poor Tiff (Martine McCutcheon) finding out about their betrayal via a baby monitor.
Harrison has also recently hit out at the soap for being “ageist and misogynistic”, telling the Mirror “Louise was only 40, but I had to say lines like, ‘Underneath my clothes my body’s not what it was’ as if I was ancient.”
“In one scene Louise’s lover Gianni di Marco had to say, ‘I found your hair dye in the medicine cabinet – you’re nothing but an old granny’. It was demeaning to the character, to me and to women her age watching. In another, Grant says, ‘Why would I be with you when I can be with Tiffany?’ – yet his character was only five years younger than mine. It was ridiculous.”
The actress further noted to the tabloid that her attempts to address these concerns with EastEnders bosses led to relations between her and them souring, with her being written out of the show after just a year in 1999.
In a previous interview with This Morning, in April 2019, she said her departure from the BBC One soap had left her feeling like she was “past it” and that she had suffered a nervous breakdown.
Carol is currently starring in Thunder Girls with Corrie star Beverley Callard and Loose Women‘s Coleen Nolan.
Loose Women airs weekdays at 12.30pm on ITV, STV and UTV.