EastEnders - The Life and Times of: Lorraine Stanley

Born and raised in Portsmouth, Lorraine would go on to star with some of the biggest names in Hollywood

Lorraine Stanley plays Karen Taylor, one of EastEnders' most loved characters, but how much do you actually know about the the 43 year-old actor?

Raised in Portsmouth on the south coast of England, Lorraine Marie Stanley trained at London's Arts Educational school before making her way into the acting world. Lorraine's first credited role (according to IMDb) was in Gangster No.1 in 2000, starring Malcolm McDowell and Paul Bettany.

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After a number of small roles, Lorraine was given the opportunity to Play Sonya in BBC TV movie Rehab, a moving story of people struggling to get clean. But first they must come to terms with the demons in their past and keep each other, and themselves, from giving up on the fight to get through the toughest time of their lives.

One of Lorraine's earliest roles was something you may be familiar with. EastEnders: Pat and Mo was a TV movie created to illustrate the lives of Pat Butcher and Mo Harris when they were younger. In this movie, Lorraine played young Mo.

After a string of successful roles, Lorraine starred in London to Brighton, a movie which follows a London prostitute and a young girl fleeing by train to Brighton after an appointment with a powerful client goes violently wrong.

The movie which Lorraine regards as her best work, was released in 2006 was given a five star review by the Guardian, and described as a 'British urban crime movie that is several cuts above the rest' by Empire magazine.

A further string of impressive roles followed in the years after London to Brighton, and in 2010 the actor was cast in Made in Dagenham, a dramatization of the 1968 strike at the Ford Dagenham car plant, where female workers walked out in protest against sexual discrimination.

In 2015 Lorraine went on to star in British historical drama film Suffragette alongside Hollywood greats Helena Bonham Carter and Meryl Streep.

2015 was a big year for Lorraine who welcomed her first child with with partner Mark Perez. 

Lorraine went on to have a number of roles in movies following the birth of her daughter, including 100 Streets, The Receptionist and Riot, but a small role was just around the corner which would eventually lead her to appearing on our screens four nights a week.

When EastEnders decided to tackle the important topic of underage sex, writers created Linzi 'Star' Bragg, a teenager who would eventually fall for local resident Jay Brown. After a brif fling, Jay was horrified to learn that 'Star' was underage which eventually lead to him being put on the Sex Offender Register.

During the drama viewers found out landlady Thelma Bragg was Linzi's mother. Thelma made her first appearance on 8 February 2016 as an acquaintance of the Carters.

Lorraine had clearly made a great impression with soap bosses and viewers in her eight appearances as Thelma, because the following year she would return as new character Karen Taylor.

After a few short episodes, Karen Taylor became one of the few new arrivals that shot to the top of people's favourite character list. 

Described as “Noisy, brash and not to be messed with,” at the time of her arrival, Lorraine said to Radio Times: “I grew up on an estate in Portsmouth around some very strong women, rough as old boots but the best mums in the world,” 

“In fact my own sister is similar to Karen – she’ll kill me for saying that! She’s actually called Karen too! We grew up around proper matriarchs, people who looked out for each other – that sense of community and working class roots is what makes Karen strong.”

So there's Lorraine Stanley, an absolute treasure in the EastEnders family. Is she your favourite?