Glynis Barber as Glenda Mitchell (2011)
|Portrayed by||Glynis Barber|
|First appearance||7 January 2010|
|Last appearance||8 March 2011|
|Introduced by||Diederick Santer|
Glenda Mitchell is a fictional character from the BBC soap opera EastEnders, played by Glynis Barber. The character first appeared in the programme on 7 January 2010, and departed on 8 March 2011. Glenda has been described as "complex", "vulnerable", "demure, dynamic and assured". She is the former wife of Archie Mitchell (Larry Lamb), and mother of Ronnie (Samantha Womack), Roxy (Rita Simons) and Danny (Liam Bergin).
Jill Gascoine was originally cast to play Glenda but withdrew. Speaking of her stepdown, Gascoine commented: "I was so looking forward to playing Glenda but having spent the last 15 years working in America - largely acting in single drama and writing fiction - I felt, on arrival, I lacked the right experience to film such a big continuing drama. "I have tremendous respect for EastEnders and the cast so I didn't want to let the show or my fellow cast members down."
Glenda arrives as the mother of Roxy and Ronnie Mitchell having left them 21 years ago. In mid-2010, it was revealed that Glenda knew about Archie abusing Ronnie. She slept with Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt) and Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden) and is believed to have stolen Roxy's money though it turns out Phil actually stole it. Roxy still doesn't believe this so Glenda reveals Phil's affair to Shirley, which causes Shirley to intimidate Glenda, leading her to leave Walford in March 2011.
Glenda is the estranged mother of Ronnie (Samantha Womack) and Roxy Mitchell (Rita Simons), and estranged ex-wife of Archie Mitchell (Larry Lamb). Barber commented on Glenda's backstory in an interview with Digital Spy, saying "[Archie] was an abusive bully. An abused woman can be intimidated, but at the same time think they need the man and they're scared to leave because the bully convinces them that they need each other. That's different to love. Glenda didn't love Archie but she loved her girls. However, because she didn't love Archie, she was able to leave – she had to get away. She's a very strong-minded and tough woman. Leaving an opulent lifestyle, her daughters, her family, a big house and her protective husband behind was a risk. She had no qualifications and she's had to live by her wits." She also said, "When she lived with Archie, he was very controlling of her. Even though she lived in a beautiful house and had a glamorous lifestyle, life became unbearable and she had very genuine reasons for going off. She's never got back to the life she once had, and it's been very tough for her ever since."
Glenda married Archie in 1968. They had two daughters and lived in Romford. During their marriage, she watched as Archie controlled and abused Ronnie. She had an affair with a man named Nick Winterton, who promised to leave his wife, but never did. Glenda became pregnant by Nick and left Archie, deciding she did not want him to control another of her children, leaving Ronnie when she was five months pregnant. Her son Danny (Liam Bergin) was born but she did not tell Archie, Ronnie or Roxy about him. Since her departure from her daughters' lives, Roxy could not forgive her for abandoning them, but Ronnie was more understanding as she witnessed the change that occurred in their mother. Archie told their daughters that Glenda was living in Australia and Ronnie wrote to her regularly, but this turned out to be another lie, because she was living in Brixton. She attempted to track Ronnie and Roxy down once, but finding they had moved on, she gave up looking for her daughters.
Glenda arrives in Walford on 7 January 2010 after reading about Archie's murder in a newspaper. She walks in just as Peggy Mitchell (Barbara Windsor) has said Ronnie and Roxy are still her girls, saying they are her girls, not Peggy's. Glenda explains that Peggy is not their stepmother as she and Archie never divorced. Ronnie is upset that Glenda has only talked about herself. Glenda stays overnight and the next day she tells her daughters about her life in France. Ronnie, Roxy and Glenda then start to get along. Peggy receives a phone call during Archie's will reading saying that Archie and Glenda were divorced. Glenda says she did not sign anything but Archie's lawyer, Emma West, says if she was untraceable for two years then her signature would not have been needed. Glenda later reveals that she never lived in France, but instead lives in a council estate in London. Ronnie says she is just like Archie, and just before she leaves Ronnie asks her why she left them, and she reveals that she was pregnant. Ronnie tracks Glenda down and pays her a visit, demanding to know if what she said was true. Glenda tells Ronnie about Danny, and says he does not know he has sisters as she wanted a new life and kept no pictures of her daughters. Ronnie then tells Glenda about Ronnie's daughter Danielle Jones (Lauren Crace) and shows her a picture but Glenda shows little interest. When she calls Ronnie by the name Veronica, this upsets her and she leaves and Danny appears, startling Glenda. Glenda shows Danny his father's obituary and gives him the address of The Queen Victoria public house where Ronnie and Roxy live. In April, Danny and Glenda plan to con Roxy out of at least £1 million.
Glenda arrives at The Queen Victoria and states she has been evicted from her flat. She tells Danny that unless he persuades Roxy into letting her stay she will reveal their plan. After Roxy tries to evict her, she reveals bruises on her arm and says that Danny has been hitting her. Glenda tells Ronnie and Roxy that Danny is not Archie's son. They ask Danny to leave. Glenda offers Danny a key to her flat, revealing her eviction was a lie. Glenda decies to leave but Roxy and Ronnie want her to stay. Peggy tells Roxy that Glenda insulted Archie in front of Roxy's baby Amy, leading Roxy to tell Glenda to get out. Glenda attempts to befriend Peggy's son Phil (Steve McFadden), but he is not interested. The next day, Glenda convinces Roxy and Ronnie to talk, and Roxy believes Ronnie about the rape and the girls reconcile. The next day Glenda moves in with Roxy and Amy, who has decided to move out of The Queen Victoria because of Peggy's refusal to believe Ronnie. At the reopening of the R&R nightclub, Glenda and Peggy argue about Ronnie and Roxy, and Peggy says Glenda could have taken her daughters with her when she left Archie, and Glenda says it was too late as Archie had replaced her, revealing that she knew Archie was abusing Ronnie.
Glenda returns on the night of the fire at The Queen Victoria to comfort her daughters. When Peggy leaves Walford, she tells Ronnie to give Glenda another chance, and invites Glenda to her wedding. Glenda flirts with the much younger Leon Small (Sam Attwater) in the betting shop and they arrange to meet later. Roxy is unable to pay for Ronnie and Jack's wedding as someone stole Roxy's cash, so Glenda distracts the manager of the hotel where they are marrying, allowing them to marry without paying. She discovers that Phil stole Roxy's money, so attempts to blackmail him by suggesting an affair. She then invites Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt) back to her flat, and they kiss. Glenda tells Ian to wait for her while she buys wine, and is almost hit by Phil's car. She then has sex with Phil, while Ian continues to wait for her back in her flat. While at Ben Mitchell's (Joshua Pascoe) welcome home party, Glenda insults a number of people including Phil, Ronnie, Ian and Ben before leaving early. Back at her flat, she hears a noise and goes to investigate, but is pushed down the stairs. When Ian's son Peter Beale (Thomas Law) discovers their affair, he confronts Glenda and warns her to keep away from Ian. This makes her believe that Peter was the person who pushed her. However, she soon realises it was Ben and reports him to the police. However, Phil discovers Glenda's affair with Ian and blackmails him into giving Ben an alibi, and Phil forces Glenda to withdraw her complaint and their relationship ends.
Glenda helps Roxy get her money back by breaking into Phil's safe, but he catches them when Glenda decides she wants to take extra. Phil then dupes Roxy that Glenda stole the money, and Roxy finds cash in Glenda's wardrobe. Roxy refuses to believe Glenda when she says Phil planted it and accuses Glenda of only wanting Roxy for her wealth. To get Roxy to believe that Phil would set her up, Glenda reveals her affair with Phil to Roxy in front of Phil and Shirley. Nobody believes Glenda, and Roxy ejects Glenda from her own flat. Ronnie wants nothing to do with Glenda until she threatens to tell Jack that she has been lying about missing her counselling sessions, so Ronnie allows Glenda to stay with her. Glenda visits Ian's wife Jane Beale (Laurie Brett) to say they had an affair but Jane already knows. Shirley arrives and threatens Glenda, and Glenda leaves Walford after the confrontation, but not before reducing Shirley to tears by reminding her that she always goes back to Phil regardless of his behaviour.
On 17 October 2009 it was announced on the EastEnders website that veteran actress Jill Gascoine had been cast as Glenda, the mother of established characters Ronnie (Samantha Womack) and Roxy Mitchell (Rita Simons), and ex-wife of Archie Mitchell (Larry Lamb), and would appear in 2010. Of the casting, the show's executive producer Diederick Santer stated: "I'm so looking forward to welcoming the hugely talented Jill to EastEnders. I have a very clear memory of watching C.A.T.S. Eyes every Friday night, [and] Jill's character, Maggie Forbes, was always my favourite – tough, glamorous, and exciting – perfect qualities for Glenda Mitchell." On joining the show Gascoine added: "I'm thrilled to be joining the cast of EastEnders and I am really excited to be back on British TV." However, it was announced on 23 October 2009 that Gascoine withdrew from her filming commitments during her first day on set, as she felt that she "lacked the right experience to film such a big continuing drama". She said "I was so looking forward to playing Glenda but having spent the last 15 years working in America [...] I felt, on arrival, I lacked the right experience to film such a big continuing drama. I have tremendous respect for EastEnders and the cast so I didn't want to let the show or my fellow cast members down."
The part was subsequently recast to Glynis Barber. Barber said in an interview with media website Digital Spy: "I think they originally cast Jill [Gascoine] because she's of a similar age to Barbara [Windsor] and on screen, they're sisters-in-law, so it made total sense. The fact that they then cast me was a sign of the complete desperation to get someone quickly! To be perfectly honest, though, I think it worked out really well." She added "Glenda's very important in the whole Mitchell saga and because I had to come in at such short notice, within 24 hours of meeting [the cast], I was on set shooting 38 pages of dialogue! If someone had said to me beforehand, 'You're playing this really important character, Ronnie and Roxy's mum, you're a Mitchell, you have tons and tons of dialogue', I'd probably have been so nervous and completely freaked-out. It's a real blessing that I had no time to have a single nervous thought. There was no time for nerves and no time to over-think it." She explained that on her first day, she was told Glenda's backstory and had no time to read all the scripts, filming the character "on a need-to-know basis." Barber initially appeared in nine episodes in January 2010, and returned again on 2 April 2010.
The character is described as "polished, demure, dynamic and assured"—a complete contrast to the nervous and quiet woman the Mitchell family knew previously—and is said to cause a shock when she turns up in Walford unannounced. In December 2009, Santer hinted that Glenda would provide intrigue for fans of the Mitchell family following Archie's murder, saying "The question for the audience—and for the rest of the Mitchells—is what does she want? On the face of it, she wants Archie's money because his will is read—and she's the original Mrs Mitchell. But is there more going on than just her being a gold digger? I'd suggest that there is." Barber described Glenda has having "a real edge, but at the same time, she's very vulnerable. She's such a complex character, too. Generally, what she's saying is true but the words she's encasing them in are lies." Soap opera reporting website Holy Soap describe Glenda as having "cougar qualities", being a "glamorous granny", "feisty" and a "blonde bombshell".
In August 2010, Barber told Inside Soap that although the character comes across as devious or a bitch, she simply tries to portray her as genuine, but the more genuine she attempts to make Glenda appear, the more devious she appears. Barber later said that she dislikes her character and would not trust Glenda as a friend as she is only interested in men, and Glenda was described by Carol on screen as "not a woman's woman". However, Barber said that Glenda would be fun to be with on a night out.
In August 2010, scenes reveal that Glenda already knew that Archie abused Ronnie as a child. Barber admitted: "Viewers say to me, 'Oh she's an absolute bitch,' before telling me how much they love her. What's funny is that I've never played Glenda as a baddy. But the more genuine I try to make her, the more devious she appears to the audience!"
Speaking of the storyline where Glenda and Roxy attempt to steal back Roxy's money from Phil, Barber explained that Glenda is "a woman scorned, and wants to fleece Phil for everything he's got." Phil frames Glenda for stealing the money, on which Barber told Inside Soap that Glenda is devastated that her daughter believes Phil: "Glenda doesn't think that Roxy will take Phil's word over hers, so she's devastated when she does. It makes no sense—Glenda is broke, so why would she leave a pile of money in her bedroom cupboard? She instantly knows that Phil planted the cash there. Glenda's so hurt that Roxy believes him instead of her." This leads to Glenda revealing her affair with Phil. Barber told Buzz that Shirley regrets this for a moment but needs to show Roxy why Phil would frame her. She added that Glenda felt at one point that she and Phil would be a couple, but that she was "deluded" to think that, and that Glenda would leave Walford for her daughters, choosing them over money, though the offer of cash to leave would "soften the blow". When Shirley discovers the affair, she attacks Glenda, on which a spokesperson told the Daily Star, "Glenda has had it coming for months. She finally gets what's coming to her."
Glenda's departure from the series was confirmed on 27 February 2011, with Barber writing on her official website, "2010 was a busy and exciting year for me playing Glenda Mitchell in EastEnders. After Glenda manages to alienate practically everyone on Albert Square, she makes her exit in March 2011. But will she be back in the future to wreak more havoc? Well 'she ain't dead' so anything is possible... watch this space!" Her final on-screen appearance is on 8 March 2011. Barber said that Glenda's exit was emotional to film and explained that the character is hurt and humiliated. As Glenda has been rejected by both Roxy and Ronnie, Barber said that Glenda is "all alone in the world" without them. The door was left open for Glenda to return in the future, and Barber hoped that if Glenda did return, it would be to exact revenge on Phil as she would not be able to let go of what he did, or with a new man or lots of money.
In January 2011, Inside Soap branded Glenda as "Walford's cougar". They also assumed she would be a "mousey [sic] lady who couldn't stand up to her husband" because of the past references to her in the serial, but of her actual persona they stated: "Age hasn't mellowed Glenda! She's a maneater whose standards are so low that she's bedding Phil and Ian!" In March 2011, Glenda was nominated for "Villain of the Year" at the 2011 British Soap Awards. 8.6 million people watched Glenda's last episode according to overnight ratings.
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