Pregnant EastEnders actress Kellie Shirley has revealed that she and on-screen co-star Matt Di Angelo have formed a "twin club".
Catching up with OK!, soap star Kellie, 41 – who already shares seven-year-old twins Pearl and Louie with writer husband Phil Davies – said she's bonded with her co-star over the fact they both share twins.
“We have our own mini twin club!” Kellie says of Matt – who played Carly’s brother Deano Wicks in the London soap and became the father of a twin boy and girl in August.
“So we talk about it, but he’s not on his phone so much these days because his hands are full. I’m going to visit soon and meet the babies.”
Kellie – who is exclusively revealing the pregnancy with her third child with OK! – reveals she shared the news with her twins when she reached 18 weeks and was starting to show.
“I wanted to wait because I was so conscious of something happening,” she says. “I’m a realist and didn’t want to get carried away. But Pearl had been looking at me funny for a few weeks as I’d been getting a bit of a belly.”
The twins had very different reactions to the news. “Pearl was so excited and has been drawing lovely little cards and a welcome pack,” says Kellie. “But Louie cried and said, ‘Oh, you will love the baby more than me!’ But he’s coming round to the idea.”
Kellie and Phil, who live in south London, haven’t decided on a name yet for their incoming little one – although it sounds like daughter Pearl has already made her choice. “At the moment she wants to name him Barry,” says Kellie, laughing.
“We haven’t chosen a name yet, but it won’t be Barry.”
The actress says she “always wanted twins”, so when her wish came true, she was delighted. “Every time I picked up a penny from the street or made a wish, I would always, always wish I could have twins,” she says. “So when it happened, it was just the best thing ever.”
While she may only be expecting one baby this time, Kellie has found her current pregnancy more tiring than the last.
“Last time was such a breeze in comparison,” she says. “Being older this time around, I feel absolutely floored. When I found out, I didn’t tell people at work – I kept really quiet about it. I was just getting my head around it.
"Being an actress and freelance, you think, ‘Will people view me differently? Has the world moved on?’ But I googled actresses who had children in their forties and found out I was in good company – Olivia Colman being one of them and look at her career. It’s inspiring.
“I recently did a film and had to do a bath scene in it. I’d kept my pregnancy under wraps, although I had to tell the director last minute as I was getting worried about how the scene was to be shot. I shouldn’t have worried though as they were so accommodating.”
The actress returned to work quickly after having the twins – a decision which had some rather unfortunate consequences. “I had my first audition when they were 21 days old and it was horrendous,” she admits.
“I went up to Newcastle – it was for a role I really wanted. I did a chemistry read and my boobs leaked everywhere! It wasn’t the right time to audition, but I wanted to prove myself. I cried all the way on the train home.
"I then went back to work when they were six weeks old. I did an episode of Doctors and the team were great. I took the twins with me and they let me have breaks.
"Then I started back at work, a year at the Royal Shakespeare Company, when they were nine months old, which was great as it meant I could look after my babies in the day and perform at night.”
When Kellie gave birth to the twins, she had to have an emergency C-section. “I did try to give birth naturally,” she says. “I got to nine centimetres dilated then I caught an infection, so I needed the C-section.
"King’s College Hospital were amazing and I’ve got two healthy kids, so I feel grateful.”
The actress says she’s likely to have a planned caesarean this time round and will give birth at King’s College Hospital in London again, which has the capacity for cord blood donation.
It’s a subject close to Kellie’s heart as she’s patron of the Anthony Nolan charity, which helps those with blood cancer and blood disorders.
For information on donating umbilical cord blood, visit AnthonyNolan.org.
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