EastEnders star Laila Morse has revealed she was told to “quit smoking or die” in a shock wake up call.
The actress, best known as Walford’s Big Mo, had smoked for more than 50 years but she was finally motivated to quit after doctors warned her high cholesterol levels could trigger further health problems.
Laila, 72, was given a stark warning that she could be facing a heart attack or stroke if she didn’t ditch her 20 cigarettes a day habit.
“I threw my cigarettes away after leaving the surgery,” she told Hello.
“I mean, I’ve been smoking for 50 years, but it frightened me so much I just stopped. I thought to myself, you either quit or die. So I quit.”
Laila added: “It’s just a habit you do because other people are smoking. I never enjoyed it.”
She told the magazine she switched to an electronic for a few weeks before stopping completely and has never felt better.
The soap star, who is the big sister of Hollywood actor Gary Oldman, 59, is a breast cancer survivor.
She discovered a lump in her breast while gardening in 2001 and was urged to see a doctor by her late EastEnders co-star Wendy Richard (Pauline Fowler) who had been diagnosed with the disease herself in 1996.
In her autobiography, Laila wrote: “Wendy frowned and told me I needed to get it checked. Stupidly I wanted to ignore it. When Wendy rang and asked how I got on, I lied and said it was fine.
“I could tell she didn’t believe me. So I went to the doctor, for Wendy. And as it turned out my lovely friend saved my life.”
Sadly Wendy lost her cancer battle in 2009 at the age of 65.
Following Wendy’s death, Laila signed up as an ambassador for Cancer Research UK, saying it was her way of paying tribute to Wendy and everyone else who has been affected by the disease.
Laila joined EastEnders in 2000 but was last seen on screen in 2016, when the character left Walford and moved to Kent to live with granddaughter Belinda
In an interview with The Sun in June, the actress said she’d love to return to Albert Square – and said she’d never even been giving a leaving do when Mo was written out.
“I hope Big Mo comes back. I like all the cast, they’re lovely people, so it would be good to film with them again,” she said.
“People come up to me in the street everyday and ask why I’m not in EastEnders any more as Big Mo used to make people laugh.
“All of a sudden my character disappeared and I wasn’t in it any more, but I’ve never officially left the show — I’ve never had a leaving party or a present.”
Over to you, EastEnders bosses…