FORMER EastEnders star Carol Harrison says she suffered a breakdown following her exit as soap bosses made her feel suicidal.
Carol, 65, played Tiffany Mitchell's selfish mum Louise who had multiple affairs with younger men, but was axed from the soap in 1999.
The actress says she had tried to change the course of her character's story and challenged bosses over their "ageist and misogynistic" script.
But her pleas fell on deaf ears and she says after Tiffany (Martine McCutcheon) died on the Square, her days were numbered because she was too old.
In an interview with The Mirror she said: "I was told, ‘We don’t care about women over 40. They are not our audience. There is no interest in them.
"It left me shocked at how ageist and misogynistic they were. They told me to just get on with it and be grateful."
Her character's storyline gripped viewers, with Louise sleeping with Tiffany's husband Grant Mitchell nabbing the soap a BAFTA award.
But her battles with executives left her feeling extremely low and stressed, and she even blacked out on set.
She said: "I had about seven meetings with executives. My relationships with them became toxic and I started feeling ill.
"I confided in friends like Patsy Palmer and Nadia Sawalha about how I was feeling. I was working 7am to 7pm and had my little boy Alfie and husband Jamie. I’d go home and cry.
“There were a couple of times on set when I blacked out. I put on weight and my GP said my thyroid was acting up, probably due to stress.
"Then I read I was to be written out."
Carol said she had hated reading lines like "my body is not what it was" and added: "In one scene Louise’s lover Gianni di Marco had to say, ‘I found your hair dye in the medicine cabinet – you’re nothing but an old granny’.
"It was demeaning to the character, to me and to women (Louise's) age watching. In another, Grant says, ‘Why would I be with you when I can be with Tiffany?’ – yet his character was only five years younger than mine. It was ridiculous."
Carol was prescribed medication and had CBT counselling, and focused her energies on studying a masters in script-writing.
She has written plays including All Or Nothing which was put on in the West End and she joined the cast of The Thunder Girls with Corrie’s Beverley Callard and Coleen Nolan last year.
Carol first claimed last year that she was axed from EastEnders aged 42 for being too old.
Carol thinks it's outrageous it's considered acceptable for a man to date a younger woman, but taboo for an older woman to be with a younger man.
She said last year: "Once you reached your 40s you sort of went from being a desirable woman to someone who was desperate.
“There were very few roles available to women of my age and class. If you are in your 40s and you are middle class, you get cast as a barrister.
"If you are in your 40s, quite attractive and working class, then you are a slag.”
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