EastEnders fans will best remember Ronnie Mitchell for her numerous hard-hitting storylines – including a tragic underage rape, and even swapping her dead baby for her close friend’s son.
Ronnie was played between 2007-2017 by Samantha Womack. Ronnie and Jack Branning had just exchanged vows. Ronnie was finally killed in 2017.
Jack saw her last on-screen appearance on January 19, when she went to visit her body. Her death and that of Roxy were ruled misadventures after Roxy drowned in the hotel pool.
What has Sam Womack done since she left the soap? Silver Screen Beat examines her personal life and reveals the brutal sacking that she endured.
Samantha’s love life has almost been dramatic enough to rival that of her character’s.
The star was first married to Mauro Manntovani for a short time in 1997 and 1998. After that, the couple divorced. Samantha then got engaged to Mark Womack.
Best known for his rival soap role in ITV’s Emmerdale – where he played villain DI Mark Malone – the star has also appeared in everything from Silent Witness to Vera.
Samantha and Mark share two children together – son Benjamin, 20, and 16-year-old Lili Rose, with Samantha also being step-mum to Mark’s son Michael, 25, from a previous relationship.
The couple split in 2018 but Sam remained at their Bedfordshire farmhouse while Sam continued to date.
OK! Magazine told her that she was happy to share this information. Magazine at the time: “Our family home is big enough and we’re co-existing happily. You don’t have to rush to change anything.
“But now feels like the right time to be honest and admit we’re no longer together.”
Samantha met Oliver Farnworth in the theatre adaptation of The Girl on the Train, which she starred with in 2019.
Oliver is best known for his portrayal of Andy Carver on Coronation Street. He was murdered by Pat Phelan, a serial killer. Oliver also appeared in Mr Selfridge as Endeavour.
Sam shared some snuggly snaps with her Twitter account, which was created in May 2021. “Here’s some funny ones of his gorgeous face.”
A source told Silver Screen Beat: “Samantha’s chemistry with Oliver was clear to see on stage and they remained close after the production. They couldn’t be happier and have loved dating away from the public eye.
They’ve met each other’s families and it all feels very natural. They’re totally smitten with each other. Mark, her ex, is happy for her. It’s all very grown-up and modern.”
Speaking of her transition from TV to theatre, Sam told Silver Screen Beat back in November that she’s sick of telly bust-ups.
She stated: “I would say more of a theatre actress than telly now. It suits me much better in so many ways – the hours, for a start.
“I am awful first thing in the morning, I can’t function. They say people are either night or morning people – well I will happily sit up ‘til four or five am. But when you’re on a soap you have to get up at five.
“And I always fall out with everyone in television. Someone is always telling you what to do with your character – I just get really irritated and I end up arguing and then getting sacked.”
She added at the time that she wouldn’t go back to EastEnders even if she could, explaining: “No, I’m dead! But I wouldn’t want to – as I get older I need something that gives me more creative control.
“And theatre does that. In your 20s, you’re just grateful, but now I really love my job and I hate losing control over how a story is told.”
‘Dreaded’ on-screen kiss
Samantha shared her story about kissing Scott Maslen, the EastEnders’ Jack Branning character, on Samantha.
In real life, the pair had been good pals since their teenage years, with Scott even acting as godfather to Samantha and Mark’s two children.
Speaking to Metro in 2007, Scott divulged: “Sam made such a big deal about our first kiss.
“I wasn’t too bad. It’s weird because it’s like kissing my sister, but we’re actors, we just get on with it.”
Sam said Scott wasn’t as cool as he claimed, and giggling. “That’s not how it was at all! Scott tried to lie about being freaked out, while I was very honest and verbal about it.
“He pretended that he was fine, and then forgot to remember his lines for the subsequent three takes!
Samantha made a huge decision during 2020’s lockdown – and sold her family home to live off-grid in an abandoned Spanish hotel.
The star has plans to relocate permanently to the former hotel near Valencia in the mountains.
She explained to Woman’s Weekly: “During lockdown, I bought a place in the mountains.
“I’m going to be full-time in Valencia, so I’m thinking of doing a retreat or something there.
“It was a rural hotel and it’s on a cycle path, so maybe [a retreat for] painting or eating. I haven’t really thought about it yet, but after the pandemic, it at least gives me an alternative, if anything happens again that knocks my industry.”
The actress has chatted previously about her ‘addiction’ to looking at property prices online, admitting if she’s struggling to sleep she tends to look up house prices in rural areas.
Samatha, in addition to her famed romantic connections, has more notable links in her family: she is related to George Best, Manchester United’s football icon.
Her aunt Angie was actually married to George, with TV personality Calum Best – who has appeared in shows like Celebrity Big Brother and Footballers’ Wives – being her cousin.
The Brighton-based star shared the connection with her family on Twitter, sending a message directly to her cousin.
“Commenting on a photo of Calum on the phone she said: “Is that you making a date to come see your super talented cuz!!!!!???”
Stardom at Eurovision
At just 18 years old, Sam became famous under the maiden name Janus and won the annual A Song for Europe. She then represented the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest 1991.
Sam finished joint 10th with the song “A Message to Your Soul”, which reached number 30 on the UK Singles Chart.
Samantha however, has admitted that she was “traumatised”She was so moved by the experience that she feared her career would end.
On her BBC Radio 2 program, she spoke to Zoe Ball: “I just always remember that era as being kind of breaking into ladette culture, you know everything just seems a bit loud, crazy and mad. Eurovision was definitely all of those things.
“I can look back at it now and love the idea I did it, we did Top Of The Pops, we toured everywhere.
“It was crazy, mad but I think after it finished I was a bit traumatised for a while.”
She called her Eurovision appearance “ridiculous”- A pink mini-dress worn while singing about starving children
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