The star is bowing out from the BBC One soap in the coming weeks, alongside on-screen sister Samantha Womack, who plays Ronnie, after the show’s new boss dropped them in a cast shake-up.
Rita has now spoken for the first time since news of her exit was announced in August, admitting she has spent days on set crying while filming her final scenes.
She told The Sun: “[Samantha] would have a day where she couldn’t stop crying and I would be really cold and strong and I would look after her. Then the next day it would be me who’d be set off by a packet of coffee or whatever and she would be strong.
“We’ve taken it in turns to be upset because one of us needs to be strong for the other. It was tiring. Emotionally tiring,” she said of filming her final scenes.
However, Rita also admitted she saw her axing as “being given a kick”, believing the universe has guided her where to go next.
“Obviously I knew that I couldn’t stay there forever, and I didn’t want to stay there forever. The problem is, because I love everyone so much there and it’s such a family environment, you get very used to being there,” she explained.
Claiming she is “exhilarated” to be moving on from Albert Square, Rita added “it kind of broke her heart” leaving the cast and 150 crew members behind.
Barbara Windsor - who played Roxy and Ronnie’s aunt, Peggy, until the matriarch was killed off earlier this year - previously slammed the decision to axe the characters, who will reportedly be killed off on New Year’s Day.
Samantha then tweeted shortly after: “Feeling loved and supported by my Auntie P. Love her forever.”
It was recently announced Rita had landed her first post-’EastEnders’ role, playing Paulette in a touring production of West End show ‘Legally Blonde’.
Catch up all on the latest soap news and spoilers here.
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