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Ex-Rainham School for Girls pupil Natalie Mitchell keeps EastEnders fans hooked

By Clare Freeman

Do you remember the EastEnders episode when Ben paid off Gavin to release Phil – and then told his mum Kathy he’d leave Albert Square with her?

That was one of seven scripts written for the show by Natalie Mitchell, a former pupil at Rainham School for Girls.

Miss Mitchell spent 10 years working with young people after she left school before becoming a full-time writer.

Natalie Mitchell went to Rainham School for Girls and now writes for Eastenders
Natalie Mitchell went to Rainham School for Girls and now writes for Eastenders

She said: “I always knew that I loved drama, but I wasn’t really aware of what career options there were, other than drama teacher or actor.

“It’s taken nine years to get to this point, and I feel like I still have lots to achieve.”

After applying to the BBC Writer’s Academy five years in row, Miss Mitchell eventually got a place on the last-ever course in 2012, writing for BBC dramas Holby City, Doctors and Casualty as well as EastEnders.

Miss Mitchell said: “After some successes and some failures – I have discovered that I’m not very good at writing medical drama – I started writing regularly for EastEnders at the end of 2014.”

Kathy Sullivan, played by Gillian Taylforth
Kathy Sullivan, played by Gillian Taylforth

The 32-year-old has just started writing her seventh episode, with the sixth to air in January.

This year also saw her fulfil her ambition to bring a play about Medway to Medway.

Written to raise awareness of young people’s mental and sexual health, Germ Free Adolescent toured venues in the Towns in October.

While a student a the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, Miss Mitchell spent time at the Royal Court Theatre in Sloane Square.

Phil Mitchell, played by Steve McFadden
Phil Mitchell, played by Steve McFadden

She said: “I got to read loads of scripts and I couldn’t help thinking that there was nothing that really represented my life, or my experiences living in Medway. So I decided to see if I could write something myself.”

Her first play, Can’t Stand Me Now, was about a boy growing up in Chatham and appeared at the Royal Court’s Young Writer’s Festival in 2007.

Miss Mitchell, who now lives in Bexleyheath, added: “The plan is for the Germ Free Adolescent to tour more extensively next year, and we’d also like to set up a more permanent company in Medway.

“There’s some really amazing work happening in the area, with LV21, Nucleus Arts, Ikon Theatre and others, and we would love to be a more permanent part of that arts ecology in the area.”

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