SHE is synonymous with her former character in EastEnders.

And sometimes the line between Cheryl Fergison’s real life as an actor and her soap opera persona as Heather Trott even became blurred while she was on the show.

EastEnders writers found inspiration talking to Cheryl about what she had been up to off set – like playing knock and run at George Michael’s house.

She said: “That happened a lot. They were like: ‘That’s happening in Cheryl’s life – we’ll put a bit of that in there’.

“There’s a storyline where Heather and Shirley break into George Michael’s house and that came from a real situation.

“Cliff Parisi, who is now in Call the Midwife, played my husband in EastEnders, Minty. At the time he lived in Highgate, literally across the road from where George lived.

“One day we were walking there for a cup of tea and he pointed out George’s house. Linda (Henry, who plays Shirley) rang the bell on the gate and they both ran off.

“A woman at the gate with marigolds on recognised me from EastEnders and said: ‘We’re packing George’s stuff. He’s about to go on tour. We’ll let him know you were here’.

Warrington Guardian: George Michael Tribute @ Hotel Royale

“We arrived at the set of EastEnders and Angela on reception said: ‘We’ve had this prank call – some bloke claiming to be George Michael called up saying he’s sorry he missed you’.”

But it was not a prank – it was really the world famous singer – and before Cheryl could say careless whisper they were fast friends.

She added: “After that day he would send me presents like things he’d signed or chocolates or flowers.

“He loved EastEnders and we became friends. He invited me to see him in concert and I’d go to the parties afterwards. We became quite close.

“I was devastated on the day he died but he was a true talent and a lovely man.”

Cheryl misses EastEnders but finds it peculiar that people call her Heather almost a decade after leaving the soap.

The 54-year-old, who has also featured on ‘Allo ‘Allo, The IT Crowd, Doctor Who and Celebrity Big Brother, said: “It’s weird. I was in it for five years and I’ve been out of it for about nine years now.

“They still refer to Heather in some scenes and it’s lovely because it’s a character that people took to their hearts and they loved.

“It’s a bit annoying for me as an actress as some casting directors don’t see beyond that. Even in panto, people don’t think that ‘Heather’ should be playing a baddy.

“Even when I was out shopping with Linda Henry, who plays Shirley, people would avoid her, because they thought she was too hard, and come and give me a cuddle.

“It was a really weird thing that they couldn’t define that we were two mates out shopping.

“It takes you a while to understand how the public works but they are the ones that pay your wages in a way.

“They watch you on TV, they come to your shows, they’re the ones who support you – they become a second family.

Warrington Guardian: HELPING HANDS: Linda Henry, alias Shirley Carter, and  Cheryl Fergison, who plays Heather Trott, from EastEnders, with Pudsey

Cheryl with her EastEnders co-star Linda Henry during a Children in Need promo

“So I treat them with respect. I find it very difficult when people in our profession have no time for fans or people on the street.

“I don’t like that attitude because I think you’re so lucky to be doing a job you love and you’re privileged to do.

“A soap is a never-ending factory of words but, you know what, it’s the best job in the world. I was so lucky to have scripts land on my doorstep which translated into instant reactions from the general public.

“I was so lucky to do EastEnders for five years. It catapulted me into the public eye and it gave me amazing opportunities.

“I worked with charities, I got invited to things I would have never been to and you get to walk down the red carpet.”

Currently, Cheryl is on tour with Menopause the Musical 2: Cruising Through the Menopause. The show is at Parr Hall on Saturday and she is reprising her role as ‘Earth Mother’.

The taboo-breaking show also features Casualty’s Rebecca Wheatley, Hollyoaks’ Nicole Barber-Lane and Eurovision Song Contest’s Nicki French.

Cheryl added: “I’m sort of a hippy – a bit like Barbara Streisand in Meet the Fockers. From being a zen, calm person, the menopause has turned her into quite an angry, hormonal woman.

“She is taking it out on her husband and he has to weather this storm. We have people coming who are clearly having a terrible time and they say they haven’t laughed so much since all this happened.

Warrington Guardian:

“It is a credit to everyone on our team for addressing this subject in a fun way which is also moving and poignant.

“We have standing ovations every night, women are in tears and men seem to be absolutely overwhelmed by it.

“You see them sit there and there’s this realisation. They understand why this has happened to their partner or their mum or their sister.

“Humour is the way British audiences seem to tackle stuff.

“We like to sweep it under the carpet, make a joke about it and then go away and think about it. That’s the way we do things but as long as people are talking about it that’s all that matters.”

Cheryl also featured in Little Britain’s university counsellor Linda Flint sketches and said she would love to be in the show’s much anticipated return.

She said: “The lovely thing about David Walliams and Matt Lucas is if there’s anything for me they’re pretty good at ringing me up.

“I did Big School with David and Catherine Tate a couple of years ago and Matt told me there’s something about me that always makes him laugh.

“I’m so pleased they’re working together again. It’s a dream team and it’ll be very interesting to see what they do with it because things have moved on since it was on TV.

“But it was very clever. Little Britain showed people for who they really were. It’ll be interesting to see how they can get away with a lot of stuff this time around. If they phoned up tomorrow I’d be there.”

Menopause the Musical 2 is at Parr Hall on Saturday. Visit