Fans of EastEnders will probably recall that the role of spoilt brat and teen tear away Lucy Beale was formerly played by Melissa Suffield, however, after she was axed from the show for alleged misconduct, the role was taken over by Hetti Bywater, who is of course still playing the troubled teen.
However, what we viewers didn’t know during the time that Melissa was playing Lucy is that she was enduring hell on a daily basis at the hands of gang of bullies who, Melissa believes, targeted her because of her role.
While speaking to the Daily Mirror, Melissa, who’s now 20 years old, explained, “I was relentlessly bullied by a group of girls – it was systematic, grim and really nasty…
“I was spat at and got chased home also. God knows what would have happened if they had caught up with me.
“It was so alien and strange and I tried to put on a brave face – I didn’t know how to deal with it.”
The paper adds, “But things reached a head when the gang caught up with her at the train station one day, and even tried to push her on to the live railway tracks.”
Melissa revealed, “They were like, ‘There’s Luce, let’s get her.’
“It was so upsetting and so frequent. I was pushed nearly on to the tracks. I feared for my life.
“I was genuinely terrified. I tried to put on a brave face but inside I was petrified. I thought they wanted to kill me.”
However, Melissa admitted that she didn’t tell anyone at EastEnders about the horrifying incidents.
She explained, “It wouldn’t solve anything. If I had come in with a black eye or broken arm that would be different.
“But even then they couldn’t have supplied me with a bodyguard 24/7.
“If that had happened to any of my school friends, they wouldn’t have left the house for months.
“But I was living in the real world and I didn’t have that option because of the show.”
Next, of the reasons why she was fired from the show – which was reportedly because she was caught drinking while aged just 17 and the show’s bosses felt it would reflect badly on the soap – Melissa said, “People have painted me as going out every night and coming to work in a terrible state but that was never the case.
“I never went out if I had work and probably only went out about four or five times because the invites were too good to turn down.”
She added, “Pictures were taken of me out with some of the younger cast coming out of a West End club in the early hours of the morning and I called up the next day and said, ‘I need to tell you something.’
“That was my downfall – because the pictures were never published. The irony was that I hadn’t even been drinking that night.
“A lot of people said it was unfair. At the time I believed that too, but now I realise I shouldn’t have been there.
“It was very agitated and I felt trapped. There were four grown-up producers sat in front of me and I had nothing to say.
“Sorry wasn’t good enough. They said how disappointed they were – it was like a parent telling off a child – I felt very small.”
She continued, “I recall vividly sitting outside the executive producer’s office with my mum, waiting for my fate.
“They said they were letting me go, and that I was out of control.
“They said I had the show’s reputation to uphold and there were standards which I wasn’t meeting.
“It wasn’t technically a sacking but they didn’t renew my contract. The feeling was that ‘we think you need help – and need to help yourself’.”
Meanwhile, an EastEnders spokesman said of Melissa’s account of the bullying she endured, “Had Melissa reported these [bullying] incidents she would have had the full support of EastEnders.
“As she is fully aware, there are systems and procedures in place.
“It would not be appropriate for us to comment on the reason as to why Melissa is no longer at EastEnders.”
What a sad story…
Here’s a reminder of Melissa as Lucy…