EastEnders Big Mo stars life – Famous brother to life saved by co-star

Big Mo makes a surprise return to Albert Square in EastEnders tonight (August 10, 2022).

When Stacey Slater meets up with Jean Slater for a chat about lover Kheerat Panesar, she is surprised to discover that Big Mo has joined them for drinks.

What will Big Mo say? And what is the reason for her surprise return?

READ NEXT: BBC EastEnders fans spot new actress on Albert Square as soap replaces star

While fans wait to find out more, it is safe to say that they will be delighted by Big Mo's return to the square – and even more excited to see actress Laila Morse back on the soap.

As the fan favourite returns, Daily Star takes a look inside Laila Morse's life.

Famous brother

Laila is not the only famous star in her family, as her brother is none other than Hollywood legend Gary Oldman.

While Gary rose to fame starring in films including Bram Stoker's Dracula, Immortal Beloved, Sid & Nancy and Harry Potter as Sirius Black, Laila made a name for herself as Big Mo in the BBC soap.

Laila has also appeared in TV series including The Bill, Great Expectations and Power To The People – as well as making appearances on Celebrity Masterchef and Dancing On Ice.

However, Laila began her career later in life when she was 51 years old, and has since credited her brother as helping her to land her first acting role in 1997's Nil By Mouth.

She told Loose Women: "My big brother wrote and directed Nil by Mouth. He just wanted something raw.

"He was with a friend and he just said, 'she could do that'. I just looked at him and went what? I can't do that.

"He said, come back to the hotel and read a bit, which I did…and he went, right you're doing it. That's the first thing I'd ever done."

The two are very close to each other, with the siblings spending Christmas Day together at Gary's California home in 2018.

In sweet snaps shared by Gary's wife Giselle Schmidt, the family smiled for the camera around the dinner table, with another showing Laila making a "proper English Christmas dinner" for them to tuck into.

Real name

Although EastEnders fans will know the Big Mo star as Laila Morse in real life – that is not actually the actress' real name.

Laila was born Maureen Oldman – but Gary's then girlfriend Isabella Rossellini gave the star her now famous stage name in a very sweet gesture.

Laila Morse is an anagram of the Italian phrase "Mia Sorella", which means my sister – with Laila going on to use the name throughout her onscreen career.

Family life and heartbreaking loss

Away from the limelight, Laila has been married twice and has two children called Gerry and Tracy.

The star was first married to Gerald Bromfield between 1962-1970, before marrying Jimmy Bass in 1995.

However, her second marriage ended in 2001 – with their divorce finalised two years later in 2003.

Laila, brother Gary and sister Jackie also suffered a heartbreaking loss after their mother Kathleen Oldman died at the age of 98 years old in 2018.

Gary paid an emotional tribute to their mother on Instagram, with the star sharing snaps of Kathleen when she was younger.

In a statement on the post, he said: "The past few days have been heartbreaking but also filled with love, laughter, and celebration of a life fully lived.

"We mourn and grieve but loved ones never leave us as long as we keep their memories with us. Kay touched so many of us, so she goes on in our thoughts and in our hearts!

"The family requests privacy in their time of mourning and we thank you for the outpouring of love on her and our behalf."

Life saved by co-star

In 2001, Laila's life was saved by her EastEnders co-star Wendy Richards, who is famous for playing Pauline Fowler.

Wendy insisted that Laila visit the doctors after the actress discovered a lump on her chest, with Laila telling The Mirror: "I found this lump and I thought: ‘Ah, it can’t be much.’

"So I went into work and I told Wendy Richard and she said: ‘Go to the doctor, I don’t like the sound of that. I’m going on holiday, so when I come back the first thing I’m gonna do is ring you up and find out if you went."

Laila took Wendy's advice to visit the doctor and was later diagnosed with breast cancer, with the star undergoing surgery to have lymph nodes removed from her left breast.

Sadly however, Wendy died from her own diagnosis with cancer.

Speaking about her co-star, Laila paid tribute to Wendy for saving her life, adding: "I think if it hadn’t been for her, I don’t think I would be here today really. I’m doing this so everybody knows to get it checked up."

Stripping off

Laila was given the all-clear from her cancer in 2022, and continues to raise awareness of the disease on programmes including Strictly The Real Full Monty.

Strictly The Real Full Monty raises awareness of cancer and has since featured a number of stars who have stripped off on the show, including Duncan James and Martin Roberts.

Although the star had damaged her ankle and could not dance, she instead stripped off while sat in a wheelchair on the programme – before bursting into tears of happiness after completing the performance.

Speaking about taking part, Laila told The Sun: "When it came to the strip I sat there in my outfit with my feathers in the wheelchair and took my top off!" adding that she was "not bothered about showing anything off!"

EastEnders airs Monday to Thursday on BBC One at 7.30pm

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