Page last updated at 08:22 GMT, Tuesday, 6 May 2008 09:22 UK

Ryan stoical over Bionic setback

By Neil Smith
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

Former EastEnders actress Michelle Ryan talks to the BBC about the disappointment of having her Bionic Woman TV show axed as she promotes British film Cashback.

Michelle Ryan says she will never go back to Eastenders and being a Bionic Woman.

Viewers of digital channel ITV2 have become accustomed to seeing British actress Michelle Ryan perform superhuman feats on Bionic Woman.

But no amount of space age technology could stop US network NBC axing its remake of the 1970s TV show after just eight episodes.

It was something of a setback for the 24-year-old from Enfield, north London, who made headlines around the world when she was cast in the big budget reprise.

While promoting her latest movie in London, Ryan insisted on "taking the positive" from her Stateside adventure.

"I was under no illusions when I took the job," she said. "I knew the best-case scenario was it would be a huge hit.

"But even if it wasn't, I knew I'd have a great experience. It was amazing for a 22-year-old Brit to play that kind of American lead."


Ryan says the show was still finding its feet when the decision was made to pull the plug in the wake of the long-running Hollywood writers' strike.

Michelle Ryan in Cashback
In Cashback she plays the ex-girlfriend of a young supermarket worker

"The show went through a lot of changes and was finding its direction as we went along," she explains.

"One of the frustrating things is there were so many different avenues we could have gone down.

"But I'm grateful I got the opportunity and I'm pleased it was so well received over here."

The truism that when one door closes, another opens is one that Ryan can personally attest to.

For no sooner did she hear her US debut was coming off the air than she was offered a part in ITV1's Mr Eleven.

The two-part comedy drama, to be aired this month, sees her as a numbers-obsessed bride-to-be who suspects her intended is not Mr Right.


For the time being, though, Ryan's focus is on Cashback, a low-budget British comedy made three years ago when she had just left EastEnders.

Michelle Ryan with Jessie Wallace (l) in EastEnders
Ryan (r) remains best known for her role as Zoe Slater in EastEnders

"It's gone round all the film festivals and was released in the US and Europe," she explains.

"But getting a UK release is the hardest thing, so I'm really pleased it's coming out at last."

Ryan has a relatively small role in the film, which tells of a young supermarket worker (played by Sean Biggerstaff, star of two Harry Potter movies) with an active fantasy life.

The actress is hugely grateful to writer-director Sean Ellis for giving her the role at a time when she was still best known for playing Albert Square's Zoe Slater.

"I walked in the room and he was like, 'Great to meet you,'" she recalls. "He didn't have any preconceptions.

"He's made a cool movie I think. I feel like it's a really good British film people will enjoy."


With Bionic Woman no longer an option, Ryan must surely now be weighing up her options.

Might she contemplate returning to EastEnders, as many of her fellow cast members have done?

"Never," is her emphatic reply. "It's definitely not something I'd ever go back to.

"I know I'm sitting here now because of the start EastEnders gave me and it was an incredible training ground.

"But I do feel as well it was sort of like my apprenticeship, and you don't revisit that."

Cashback is released in the UK on 9 May.

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