DANNIELLA Westbrook has revealed she thanked her EastEnders replacement Kim Medcalf for “keeping Sam Mitchell alive”.
The actress originally played Sam in the BBC soap on and off between 1990 and 2016 before her drug addiction and behaviour caused her to be axed.
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Bosses later brought Sam back but with a new actress – Kim – in the role in 2002.
They refused to allow Danniella to return to the role – insisting she put dealing with her troubles first – which she described as a blessing.
But in 2009 Danniella revealed she ended up running into Kim for the first time – shortly before her own return to the Square.
Danniella told Soap From the Box podcast: "I had never seen [Kim] before, so I went up to her on the red carpet and I said: 'Kim, I just wanted to say well done on the part.
“‘I know you took a lot of backlash and everything for stepping in, but you did a fantastic job.
“‘You're a very talented actress and thank you for keeping Sam alive, keeping her going'.
“She was a little bit taken aback and said: 'Thank you so much’.”
Danniella added: "All respect to the powers that be at the BBC for letting me go away for 14 years and get well."
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Paying tribute to Kim for stepping in, Danniella added: "EastEnders runs at such a fast pace, so if you don't bed in fast, you're gone.
“She's used to doing theatre, she's used to picking up and turning around things quickly, so she hit the ground running and did a great job.
"But Diederick wanted it to be me, and once I proved to be well enough for long enough, I came back. I was allowed to remould Sam and bring her back."
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