MasterChef saved me from being pigeon-holed as a soap star – but I’m ready for big acting return, says Lisa Faulkner

LISA Faulkner has revealed her winning turn on Celebrity MasterChef gave her a new lease of life after being pigeon-holed in acting roles.

The TV star, 51, won the high-pressure cooking programme in 2010 and went on to release a series of cook books and host seven series of Lisa and John’s Weekend Kitchen, alongside husband John Torode, with an eighth set to air in April.

BBCLisa Faulkner, pictured on the set of Holby City, is looking at getting more high profile acting roles[/caption]

OcadoLisa Faulkner has teamed up with Ocado to share her top freezer hacks[/caption]

BBCLisa as Fi Browning in EastEnders[/caption]

Prior to her success in kitchen, Lisa had grown tired of being offered samey TV roles and had all but taken a break from the industry.

At that stage in her career, she was best known for playing Victoria Merrick in Holby City, Louise Hope in Brookside, and a number of roles in crime dramas like Murder in Suburbia.

In an exclusive interview to promote Ocado’s Fill Your Freezer campaign, Lisa explained: “When I was acting, just before I did MasterChef, I sort of got to a hiatus where the roles I was being offered were really similar.

“I was asked if I would play the same character in dramas and soaps, mostly, and I wasn’t feeling like there was creativity there.

“The cooking had come along, and I thought I just want to go and work in restaurants, and I wanted to be stretched and it was really lovely to feel that creative.

“I also had my daughter as well. She was little and, with acting, you’re travelling. It was very lovely to be at home and having a career I loved it and being creative and not being away.”

In the years that followed, Lisa balanced her newfound exposure as a handy cook with narration work, presenting gigs and the occasional minor acting role.

Then in 2017 she landed her biggest part since Holby, playing Fi Browning in EastEnders.

The strong-minded business consultant, who Lisa describes as a “cow”, rubbed many people in the Square up the wrong way as she set about trying to improve the Queen Vic pub’s fortunes before unscrupulously gaining ownership of it.

While she loved her year on the show, Lisa says the clear end to Fi’s story arc means the character will likely be left in the past.

But looking ahead to her own future, she says: “I’ve been dipping my toe back in, doing auditions, getting little parts. I’m hoping I’ll get more and do more. I’m very lucky in the jobs that I’ve had.”

More recently Lisa had a small role in Waterloo Road as Hannah King, and she praised the makers of the drama, which has launched many successful careers over the years.

She says: “It wasn’t a huge part. It was just a really nice part. Angela my best mate’s in it. It’s a great drama, really championing northern writers, young filmmakers, producers. It’s an incredible ethos up there on Waterloo Road and I was really happy to be part of it.

“I’m hoping I will get to do some other things from it.

“I’ve done a tiny part, ridiculously tiny, just because I love the show in Unforgotten and it’s just one scene but because it’s the new series I was so excited. Those sort of things make your heart beat.

“I’ve done a tiny part in an ITV drama called Archie which is about Carrie Grant. but it’s so great to do.

“I’d love to come and get a bigger, better role and start really doing it but I want to be able to balance it with my cooking.”

Lisa is currently working with Ocado, helping to provide delicious meal inspiration. Her latest campaign for Ocado is FILL YOUR FREEZER – all about using frozen ingredients to save time, money and reduce food waste. She’s whipped up three recipes using some of Ocado’s Own Range, to create tasty weeknight dinners. You can find her recipes here –

Ocado’s ‘Fill Your Freezer’ campaign aims to help people find good value and easy (yet delicious) recipes using frozen food – helping to reduce food waste. Ocado has launched a special promotion until March 14 – “5 for £10” on loads of freezer favourites – including Birds Eye 4 Chicken Burgers, Rowntree’s Fruit Pastilles Lollies, Heinz Italian Beanz Burger, Young’s 10 Cod Fish Fingers Frozen and Bannisters Farm 6 Little Jacket Potatoes. 

Lisa as Louise Hope in BrooksideOcadoLisa is a dab hand at rustling up dishes out of nothing[/caption]

Geraint Warrington 2021Lisa with husband John Torode[/caption]