Former Eastenders actress Debbie Arnold has claimed that Michael Winner sexually harrassed her early on in her career.
The actress spoke out about the alleged incident on ‘This Morning’ today, calling the late film producer and director “a bully”.
‘Crossroads’ actress Cindy Marshall-Day also joined her to recall a similar experience, in an effort to show how the ‘casting couch’ culture extends way beyond Hollywood, following the Harvey Weinstein scandal.
Arnold tells hosts Ben Shephard and Amanda Holden about a time in her early 20s, when she had been invited to Winner’s house to audition, which she says wasn’t an unusual request.
“I was taken by somebody to an office and he was in there and he just said to me, ‘Right I’d like you to go over by the window I’d like to see you in the light,'” she recalls.
“Again, I didn’t think that was unusual because sometimes they like to see what you look like. So I went by the window and he said, I’d like you to take off your top, and then take off your bra and massage your breasts.'”
The actress thought he was joking, and “rudely told him where to put it”, before Winner allegedly told her that he’d report her to her agent and to Equity (the performing arts trade union).
She recalls how she ran out of the building and straight to a pay phone to call her mum, who was her agent at the time.
“He’d rung her already. She went, ‘Oh well done darling, you did a brilliant audition.’ I was like, ‘What?’ And she said, ‘Yes, he wants you to go straight back for a recall.’
“Then I told my mum what happened and she said, ‘Oh my darling I’m sorry.’ He’d told my mum that he’d played a trick on me and that I’d coped with it brilliantly and I should come back for a recall.
“I was furious, I wasn’t ashamed of myself because obviously I didn’t do it, but I was so angry. I told this story to absolutely everyone by the way.”
Debbie Arnold played April Branning in Eastenders between 1995 and 1996. Michael Winner died in January 2013.
You can watch the whole interview here.