Footballers’ Wives’ Zöe Lucker on her most iconic Tanya Turner looks and ‘Bubbly’s in the fridge’ meme fame

Composite of three images of Zöe Lucker
Zöe Lucker (Image: BBC; John Clarke; ITV)

Whether you know her as Vanessa Gold in Eastenders, Reenie McQueen in Hollyoaks, or Tanya Turner in Footballers’ Wives (and Bad Girls), Zöe Lucker has been a staple of gay iconography for almost three decades.

From her pristine white trouser suits owning the streets of Walford to her acid-tongued putdowns and (perfectly manicured) fisticuffs in the Sparks players’ lounge, she’s taken on some of the fierciest and most fabulous characters in British television history.

Here, Zöe chats with Attitude about becoming a meme, which items of Tanya Turner’s wardrobe she got to pilfer, and why Mommie Dearest is one of her favourite movies.

What’s your favourite Tanya Turner look?

Sarah Arthur, the costume designer, was amazing at picking stuff out. I did love the black and pink Versace dress she had made to fit me. And a two-piece lilac leather suit, which I absolutely loved. Alyn Waterman, my makeup artist, always did these fabulous hairpieces and nails. My nails were just out of control – I couldn’t do anything with them. I loved all the makeup, because she was borderline drag. If I could go out in drag, I would. I’d love one of the Drag Race queens to do me up as a drag queen. That would be amazing.

Are you still in touch with your Footballers’ Wives castmates?

Susie Amy [who played Chardonnay] is still one of my best friends. She just texted me this morning arranging to meet up this weekend, actually. She’s fantastic – I missed her when she left. Laila Rouass [who played Amber], we follow each other on Instagram and we did Loose Women together a few years ago – she’s lovely. Ben Richards, I talk to him sometimes. I haven’t seen most of them for years, but if we were all in a room together now, it’d be like it was just yesterday, not 23 years ago.

Should there be a Footballers’ Wives reboot?

Promo shot of main cast of Footballers' Wives
Footballers’ Wives main cast (Image: ITV)

I don’t know how a reboot would work, because everything’s so different now. There were so many amazing storylines, but they were so far-fetched. It’s weird because we’d get the script and read it to ourselves and would go, ‘This is absolutely outrageous.’ But when you’re in character, it’s normal – it was just the world we were living in. If we did it tongue-in-cheek, it wouldn’t have worked so well.

Did you get to keep any of your Tanya Turner wardrobe?

There’s a Joseph suit that I must have worn to a funeral or something, because it’s very subdued and black. I’ve got a red leather Betty Jackson coat that I love. I still wear the blazer from my Joseph suit and sometimes the trousers. I wore the red coat when I was in the audience for Strictly after I’d left.

What’s your normal daytime look?

I never go out without putting makeup on. I wouldn’t. I mean, I don’t even go to the post box without putting makeup on, and it’s literally at the end of my drive. I just don’t. I mean, I’d horrify myself to do that. I’d feel like I needed to go and see someone, a doctor. Even if I’m just at home during the day, I still do my routine, still put all my makeup on. Even if I’m not going out of the door, just in case someone knocks, like the postman or someone coming to talk about the gas. It just wouldn’t happen.

What’s your favourite line of Eastenders dialogue?

It’s going to have to be ‘Bubbly’s in the fridge?’ obviously. That scene was originally just one line, and the stage directions were ‘Vanessa trashes the house’, as she’d just come from finding out that Max was having an affair. When I was standing at the curtains, it was almost like I needed to build up a momentum. I didn’t know I was going to say it three times, but it just happened like that. We did it in one take.

How did you feel after recording that iconic scene?

It’d have been awful if you did something like that in real life, but being able to vent like that was just great. It took a while for me to calm down afterwards, because it was totally out of control. I was a bit zoned out and super shaky. I don’t remember anyone’s reactions to it on the set because when you’re in character and in that space, just getting the shots and making sure everything is as it should be, that’s the most important thing.

When did you realise the ‘Bubbly’s in the fridge’ meme was a thing?

My friend was coming back from a night out in Soho just after the scene had gone out and there was a Post-it on the night bus saying ‘Bubbly’s in the fridge’, and he thought it was hilarious. It sort of gained momentum from there. People still send me their versions of ‘Bubbly’s in the fridge’ all the time. It’s brilliant; I love it!

What do you think is the most iconic film role?

One of my favourite films is Mommie Dearest. That’s the best role ever – Faye Dunnaway plays it so brilliantly. ‘No wire hangers!’ It’s just genius. I’ve actually got a cushion with Faye as Joan Crawford on it.

Are there are any current roles you’d like to play?

I’ve been in a space the last few years where I’ve taken a step back from it all. I’m not saying I’m not ever going to act again, but I don’t look at myself in roles at the minute. I just watched Fool Me Once with Michelle Keegan. I enjoyed that. As a part, that was quite varied. I’ve never done anything that’s a murder/mystery. Saying that, I often start in roles and they’ll be quite straight, and all of a sudden turn into comedy. They start writing more and more, and the hair gets bigger and bigger!

Is that what happened with Vanessa Gold in Eastenders?

She didn’t start out like that. That hair evolved. And everything was white. I’m not sure it was originally the case; it sort of happened really quickly. I do like height on my hair; I’d never wear my hair scraped flat off my face. But sometimes, I’d catch sight of myself and think Vanessa’s hair looked like a Victorian coiffe. I’m old-fashioned and I think Vanessa was old-fashioned too, with that very specific everything’s-the-same style. But I loved that look.

Who is your girl crush?

Valentina [from RuPaul’s Drag Race]. She’s just so beautiful and perfect, and just top of everything and so elegant.

Footballers’ Wives is streaming on ITVX

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