Two years after playing Hollyoaks villain Clare Devine, Walton actress Gemma Bissix is enjoying life without being chastised for her character’s wrongdoings.

The former Hinchley Wood School pupil, 26, has continued to live in Elmbridge throughout her acting career to be near her parents and four younger siblings and asks “Where is better than Surrey?”

After leaving Channel Four soap Hollyoaks, she returned to EastEnders to play Clare Bates and has since appeared on a string of television competitions, including Dancing on Ice, Celebrity Masterchef and the Weakest Link.

She scooped a British Soap Award for Best Villain in 2007, after her character plotted to kill her husband Max. But some fans struggled to distinguish between the actress and her character and she received flack off-screen.

She says: “The parents were worse than the children. One woman came up to me and called me a murderer. Her daughter was pulling her on the arm and saying ‘It’s not real’. There was one woman in Sainsbury’s who refused to serve me, saying I should be ashamed of myself.”

Since leaving the soap, she has been able to put her fame to good use and is the patron of White Lodge centre for disabled adults in Chertsey. She often hosts charity auctions at Reds in Weybridge, a bar owned by her father.

Gemma shot to fame at the age of nine, when she played Clare Bates in EastEnders, but continued to go to Thames Ditton Middle School.

Despite juggling acting with her school work and spending Saturdays copying the notes she had missed, she says she relished the opportunity which stood her in good stead for her future acting career.

She says: “If I go out of my house I get recognised but I’ve lived around the area for years. My dad’s an electrical wholesaler in Molesey, my brothers and sisters all go to school round here, so my family are just as well-known as I am. It’s like living in a village.”

Her favourite hangouts include Pizza Express, Reds in Weybridge, Panahar Tandoori and Bar Estilo in Esher because her friend works there.

But she says dinner parties at home have been her favourite, more cost effective, pastime recently.

She says: “Before I did Masterchef I couldn’t cook anything and I would just be the one who brought the wine to dinner parties but now I can cook. My speciality is monkfish wrapped in pancetta.”

Of all the shows she has appeared in, her favourite was Dancing on Ice, despite being the first female celebrity to be voted off the show.

“I had eight weeks of training before I did it and it has really shaped me up. I never lost any weight but I’ve lost about two inches. It was worth it because now I’ve got a great bottom,” she says.

She goes swimming at Excel leisure centre in Walton but says she hates the gym and prefers acting to modelling because it is less vital to watch what she eats.

Her latest acting venture will see her treading the boards at theatres around the country this August in the play Game of Murder and then playing the Bad Fairy in pantomime in Bath this winter.

She is also the new face of Echo Falls wine, a brand aimed at the Hollyoaks generation of late teens and 20 somethings.

Gemma, whose previous jobs have included a waitress at Carluccios and a bra measurer at Marks and Spencer in Kingston, says: “I really want to make sure that I can earn a living acting and that I can carry on without having to find another occupation. That’s the scary thing, you think “Will it last forever or will bills mean I have to get a proper job?

“A soap is a good gig because you’ve got solid work and you know the pennies will come in but I’m booked up until the end of the year, which feels good to say.”

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