Patsy Palmer shot to soap stardom in the '90s, alongside the likes of Martine McCutcheon, Sid Owen and Danniella Westbrook.
But while Danniella’s personal life has been like something out of EastEnders, Patsy Palmer, 47, admits she’s one of the lucky ones.
The star recently stunned viewers of ITV’s The Masked Singer – the show in which celebrities perform in costume before judges attempt to guess who’s behind the mask. Patsy appeared as ‘The Butterfly’ and belted out a fantastic rendition of You’ve Got The Love, proving there’s a lot more to her than meets the eye.
These days she lives an A-list life in Malibu – with husband Richard Merkell and children Charley, 27, Fenton, 19, Emilia, 18, and nine-year-old Bertie – where she even goes by her real name of Julie.
But Patsy is honest about the fact that getting there hasn’t been easy. And it’s clear that the temptation of stepping back into Bianca Jackson’s shoes is one that never really goes away.
Like many who are catapulted to fame at such a young age – 21 in her case – Patsy hit the party scene and was a regular at showbiz events with her soap-star pals.
But it wasn’t always as glamorous as it seemed, and Patsy confesses she’s glad she escaped a life where drink and drugs were rife. During a recent appearance on Loose Women, Patsy also shared her sympathy towards former co-star Danniella following her public battle with cocaine addiction. She said, “Danniella is so sweet. We all went through our own struggles. It was intense.”
In a previous interview Patsy Palmer explained, “I look back and think, ‘I was so young.’ I’m grateful that I’m alive and got through it. Whatever has gone on in the past has finished. I can’t even entertain it. It’s gone.”
She added, “I’ve done so much work around it, I’ve had so much therapy and now I feel like my life is more balanced than it’s ever been.”
Patsy admits healthier lifestyle became her lifeline
That balance, Patsy has insisted, is down to swapping partying and late nights for yoga and meditation in the Californian sunshine. She’s even carved out a successful career as a DJ – hosting her own club nights at Malibu’s Soho House and regularly rubbing shoulders with the likes of model Cindy Crawford.
Meanwhile, son Fenton and daughter Emilia are becoming successful models in their own right, and last year Fenton was romantically linked to Cindy’s daughter Kaia Gerber.
A source said of Patsy’s Hollywood makeover, “She has been able to create a new life for herself out here. LA has been life-changing for her. Patsy has been DJing all over the place and she is really in demand. Here you can be an EastEnders star and a DJ in a top club, whereas in London that wouldn’t happen.”
Despite her famous connections, Patsy admits that one thing she loves about life across the pond is the chance to go incognito. She says, “In LA, I can be myself, I know people have no preconceived ideas of who I am. I say my name’s Julie Merkell and we just chat about normal stuff.”
But there’s no denying life is far from normal for Patsy. She and her family live in a beach-front mansion that boasts views of Malibu’s West Coast – worlds away from cold and rainy Albert Square…
However, it seems Walford still has a hold over Patsy, who shot to fame as Bianca on EastEnders in 1993 before quitting for good in 2014. And, after a brief return last year, it looks as though she’s not ruling out another visit to the Square.
As Bianca’s stepdaughter Whitney Dean, played by Shona McGarty, faces yet more drama and heartbreak, it would make sense for Patsy to make a full-time return and swap LA for London.
Appearing on Lorraine after her time on The Masked Singer, she teased, “I don’t know, I’ve always said if they want me to do some stuff we’ll see what it is. It was pretty positive the last time.”
We’re keeping everything crossed for a Bianca comeback!