Former Eastenders and Hollyoaks star Gemma Bissix had her first break from acting in four years this summer, so spent it working in her brother's new electrical wholesale store in Surbiton. Not one to miss out on meeting a soap star and glamour model, GRAHAM MOODY met up with the 27-year-old to talk about growing up in the area, being refused service in Sainsbury's and a possible return to soapland.

Graham Moody: You grew up around Kingston didn't you?

Gemma Bissix: I was born in St Peters Hospital in Chertsey and went to school around here. I live in Surbiton with my mum at the moment which is interesting. Surbiton's great though and it's where my friends are. I have been to so many different places around the world and met some fantastic people but no matter what I have done and seen I would always come back to my roots. I just love Surrey, it's my county, it's where my family are from and my friends.

GM: You've been helping out a lot with the family businesses this summer haven't you?

GB: Yes, it was the first time in four years I have had any time off which was been amazing. My brother's just opened an electrical wholesalers so I have been helping him with that, working in the cafe next door and running it for a few weeks. My dad and Uncle also own the Red bar on the Queen's Road in Weybridge, which I worked in when it first opened as a cocktail waitress to drum up some business - hence why I am working in the coffee shop of my brother's electrical wholesalers. My brother's got a chip shop in Richmond as well so I have done some shifts there and fried some chips to get the costumers in. It's all about free publicity - if you have got it use it.

GM: Did you enjoy being back in Eastenders last year?

GB: It was great. That programme is the reason I act. I started in it at nine years old and they gave me the opportunity to do what I do now. It was supposed to be three episodes and it turned into six years so to go back somewhere where I essentially did my training was so lovely. There's a chance maybe of going back there again. Brian Kirkwood is there now and he was the producer at Hollyoaks when I was there, so who knows. I might knock on his door next year and see.

GM: It must have been fun playing evil Clare in Hollyoaks?

GB: It's my favourite job to date. The character itself was just the most amazing thing. If you were to do stuff like that in real life you would be in prison or on death row and I got to try them out. It was just so much fun and I got named villain of the year - it's in my living room and my mum's pride of place. There was talk of me coming back to shoot Calvin but it didn't happen in the end. He was the only one I had any revenge against because he is the one who put me in prison but now, why would Clare go back to Hollyoaks? I imagine she is abroad somewhere fleecing some rich guy. I just don't see why she would go back a little village like Hollyoaks, she's a bigger fish than that.

GM: Do people ever get you and your characters confused?

GB: Yes, people in the street think it's real. I once went into Sainsbury's in Brixton of all places and this woman wouldn't serve me. It wasn't because of Hollyoaks, it was from Eastenders. She said she wouldn't serve me and that I should be ashamed of myself and that Ian Beale has children. She had to get someone else to serve me - isn't that weird? I think I am quite a nice person really. I am not like that in real life so if people believe it then it shows I am doing a good job.

Gemma is currently starring in Cinderella at Fairfield Halls, Croydon. Call 0208 688 9291 or visit