Gillian Wright didn’t shave her head for EastEnders‘ Jean Slater’s cancer storyline because it “didn’t sit right” with her.
The 59-year-old star’s character recently had her hair chopped off after going through chemotherapy following an ovarian cancer diagnosis, but Gillian wasn’t keen to do away with her tresses because she has friends and family who have had to do so in real life.
When asked if she considered shaving her head, she said: “I did give that a lot of thought.
“But there were two main reasons I didn’t go down that path.
“I’ve got friends and family who are going through, or have gone through, treatment for cancer, and some of whom have lost their hair.
“And it just didn’t sit right with me to do this as a game of pretend.”
Gillian also decided not to shave her head for real due to continuity issues because she would’ve had to film Jean’s O2 climb scenes while wearing a wig if she had chopped off her locks, and admitted it may have been “a bit windy” at the top of the London structure.
She said: “One was logistics in terms of Rob Kazinsky, who plays my son [Sean Slater]. His availability meant we had to shoot that week’s storyline well early in the year.
“So all the things I did with climbing the O2 and all of that was done afterwards, which would’ve meant I would’ve had to wear a wig to look like me.
“It was a bit risky at the top of the O2 – a bit windy.”
Gillian spent five hours in the make-up chair when she was having her bald cap fitted for the scene in which Sean shaves his mum Jean’s hair, and she was “a little bit fidgety” sitting still for so long.
Speaking on Lorraine, she added: “It was three hours in the chair and five for the one with the bald cap for the shaving scene.
“Three hours in the chair first thing in the morning is sort of doable, because you do have to sit very still.
“But the five hour one, we had shot a scene at 8.30 in the morning so I didn’t sit in the chair until 10.30 and then it was five hours.
“I found that quite hard. I was a little bit fidgety.
“In one of the scenes I was shooting with Lacey [Turner, Stacey Fowler], she arrived on set, we were in the back of the ambulance and every time I turned around she was just staring.”
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EastEnders is on Mondays and Fridays at 8pm and Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7.30pm