Brooks at the 2011 British Soap Awards
|Born||Charlene Emma Brooks
(1981-05-03) 3 May 1981 
Ware, Hertfordshire, England
|Home town||Barmouth, Wales|
|Partner(s)||Tony Truman (2004–05)
Ben Hollington (2012–present)
Charlene Emma “Charlie” Brooks (born 3 May 1981) is a British actress, known for playing Janine Butcher in the BBC soap opera EastEnders. Brooks portrayal of Janine has awarded Brooks with numerous awards, since her first appearance in 1999, with storylines involving cocaine addiction, prostitution and murder. Brooks has appeared in British television shows; The Bill, Wired and Bleak House,the latter a role for which she received much critical acclaim. Brooks released a highly popular and bestseller fitness DVD, “Before And After Workout“, before winning the 2011 version of the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special  and the twelfth series of I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!.
Brooks was born in 1981, in Ware, Hertfordshire, England, but moved to Barmouth, Wales, when she was a child. Christened as Charlene, Brooks moved to Barmouth with her mother, Rowena “Roe”, brother Ben, and sister, Beth. Brooks attended Tower House School, in Barmouth, and relocated to London to attend Ravenscourt Theatre School. Ben, her brother, also got a place, and they lived with another family. Brooks said, “It was difficult. We were little Welsh children and didn’t know anything outside the mountains. I was homesick and the family we boarded with weren’t very nice. They liked Ben, but not me. Soon after we arrived the woman said, `He’ll work and she won’t’. It was incredibly tough and made me grow up quickly”. Roe, a former restaurant manager, and Beth soon followed, relocating to London, living in the flat below Brooks. Due to Brooks’ acting ambition, her father, Danny, an owner of a building company, stayed in Wales, consequently meaning her parents split. Brooks said of this, “It was something they had to do because they weren’t happy. They’re still good friends and we all get on well together. Dad comes to stay with us. It’s much better now and they’re both happy”.
|“||I’ve loved drama since I was seven and appeared in lots of amateur plays. At 12 I wanted to go to drama school. My parents tried to put me off at first. It seemed such a precarious path to take. But when I was 13 I really hammered them. I was so determined I wrote a 16-page essay on why I wanted to do drama. They backed me 100 per cent after that.||”|
|— Brooks speaking about starting her acting career.|
At the age of 16, Brooks attended Arts Educational to prepare for her A-levels, which she “loved”. Whilst studying, she got the role of Janine Butcher in EastEnders. She said of this in 2006, “I stupidly dropped my studies. I was a silly girl. I regret that so much I am going to work hard and sit them. I hope to do a degree in English”.
In television, Brooks has appeared in episodes of The Bill, London’s Burning, Jonathan Creek and The Demon Headmaster. Brooks’ most prominent and famous role is playing the “Walford witch”, “soap bitch”, “evil”, “malicious minx”, “soap villain”, Janine Butcher in the BBC soap opera EastEnders, a character which has appeared in storylines involving cocaine addiction, prostitution and murder. When executive producer Matthew Robinson re-introduced Janine in 1999, after Alexia Demetriou left, Brooks secured the role. On her getting the part Brooks said, “It’s funny, but for as long as I can remember I knew I was going to make it, I never worried about my career or money, and when I left college I was headstrong and confident and felt very grown. Then I joined EastEnders and I felt like a lost little girl. I remember the casting director taking me to meet Patsy Palmer on my first day there and, because I’d been watching EastEnders since I was little, I actually felt sick. Due to EastEnders, Brooks has won multiple awards, and has “proved her acting abilities with a variety of testing storylines”, according to Hello! Brooks left EastEnders in 2004. She reflected on her departure, “Leaving EastEnders was a massive decision but you can’t always play safe. I was very lucky with Janine. She carried on to say, “EastEnders was fabulous. I learned so much. That was my university and the best job in the world”. In 2006 she expressed her desire to return, “I’m busy being a full-time mum at the moment. But a return to EastEnders could be on the cards – because I’m unemployed and panicking!”.
2004-2007: Departure and other acting
“In the two years since Charlie left EastEnders she has managed to avoid tumbling into the acting graveyard where many former soap stars end up”.
—A Daily Mirror critic on Brooks’s career after her departure from EastEnders. (2006)
After her departure from EastEnders in 2004, Brooks first role was in the BBC drama Bleak House as Jenny, which she received critical acclaim for.[dubious ] Brooks has done various commercials and voiceovers in the United Kingdom, Europe and the US.
In 2006, Brooks played Beverley Allitt in a BBC1 docu-drama called Beverley Allitt: Angel of Death, alongside Ian Kelsey. Producer Cathy Elliot said, “It’s a very sensitive issue and of course it’s terrible for the parents to have the whole thing brought up. Each time it’s brought up it’s painful, but a lot of parents realise it’s important it’s kept in the public domain and that people are aware that things have happened and that not a lot has been done since”. Brooks described the role as “incredibly shocking” and “horrific”, adding that she was unsure whether to take the role. Brooks finished, “I’m an actress and I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity of taking on a very serious role. It is very different to anything that I have done before. It was interesting to play someone real and a huge responsibility playing someone so notorious. The production team have made sure that it is done in a responsible manner and it was researched meticulously”.
She has guest starred in Robin Hood and Love Soup. In theatre, Brooks, whilst on a break from EastEnders in 2003, appeared in the play Office Games alongside Adam Rickitt. The play was Brooks’ west end debut, and was described as “a witty and intelligent political commentary”. In 2007 she appeared in Our Country’s Good at the Liverpool Playhouse.
2008–14: Return to Eastenders
In 2008, Brooks returned to EastEnders for a guest stint. She was later confirmed to be coming back as a regular character. She said, “I had doubts to begin with, mainly because of Kiki, as I know how full-on EastEnders can be, and then there’s that stigma about going back to a soap. But I’m so pleased I did, it was the right decision. Especially with what’s going on at the moment, I feel really lucky to have a job and I need the security because of Kiki. I was just going to go back for a year, but I had a meeting with the boss last week and we’re going to go for another year. So lots more time to get up to much mischief”. Executive producer Diederick Santer said, “I couldn’t be more pleased that Charlie Brooks is re-joining EastEnders. With her appearances last month, she reminded us what a fine actress she is, and what an intriguing, watchable and engaging character she plays as Janine”. She temporarily departed in September 2012, and returned in April 2013 before departing again in March 2014.
In 2008, Brooks jumped from the Contra Dam bungee in Switzerland, one of the highest free-fall bungee sites in the world; as a participant of Jack Osbourne: Adrenaline Junkie, broadcast on ITV2. Brooks took part in the Christmas 2011 edition of Strictly Come Dancing, one of the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Specials and was partnered by Vincent Simone. Dancing to Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, Brooks and Simone won the competition. After her temporary departure from EastEnders in 2012, it was believed that Brooks would be taking part in the tenth series of Strictly Come Dancing. Brooks had said whilst appearing on EastEnders, “It would be fantastic to do the whole show but EastEnders is a six-days-a-week job. I’ve seen how difficult it is to juggle both but it would be an amazing opportunity”. A insider from the BBC said, “It’s more or less a done deal. Charlie would be a dream signing for Strictly. She’s high-profile and popular and judging by the Christmas special, she has natural ability”. However this proved untrue, as Brooks signed up to appear in, and later won ITV‘s I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! twelfth series. She was crowned the winner of the show, beating campmate Ashley Roberts. Brooks was “visibly delighted” saying, “[It feels] silly. I never imagined this for a million years. Everyone’s been amazing”. Brooks also narrates Botched Up Bodies on Channel 5.
In 2006, Brooks released a fitness DVD, entitled “Before And After Workout”. After having her daughter Kiki, she went on a “health kick”. Brooks, with the help of fitness coach Dee Thresher, exercised three time a week and changed her lifestyle. The DVD became UK’s best-selling fitness DVD release, and Brooks was transformed from “podgy Janine to a sexy new mum”. She said, “I weighed 11 stone at my heaviest and now weigh just over eight-and-a-half. Making the video was a job that forced me to exercise and did me the world of good. What could be better?”. She confirmed her “shock” for how successful the DVD was, but revealed she would not be releasing another. She said, “They asked me to do it, and as I’d put on so much weight after my daughter was born I just thought: ‘Why not?’, because I really needed to lose weight. I was really surprised how well it sold. It went to No 1. I’m really glad I did the video because I enjoyed doing it and it worked and I feel so much better than I did. “I’ve had lots of good feedback from people I’ve bumped into who’ve come up to me and said: ‘I’ve lost a stone’ and even some of my friends have bought it – which I think is hilarious. But I don’t really want to do another one because I’m not claiming to be a fitness expert. I was overweight and I had a trainer who put me through my paces and we put that on video, so unless I get really big again I think that’s it. I’m not a fitness queen and I don’t want to be the next Jane Fonda. Mind you, she does look fabulous”.
At the age of 18 Brooks began a relationship with Grange Hill star Jon Newman and later they became engaged. They bought a house together in north London, she said of him, “We’re best friends and we’re really happy. I don’t think I could have done what I’ve done without him”. Brooks split with Newman in 2001, after a seven-year relationship. She said that she did not want to get married, “Jon is my best friend and the split was very amicable. We were childhood sweethearts and we lived together for two years. But I realised I needed to be on my own a little bit to find myself”. Brooks met Tony Truman when she was 21, through her EastEnders co-star Dean Gaffney. She got engaged to Truman, and the couple had a child named Kiki, in December 2004. Brooks revealed that Kiki was unplanned, but her “by far proudest achievement”. Truman, an event organiser, took Brooks on a holiday to Dubai, when she started to feel ill. Brooks found out she was pregnant, on the same day Truman planned to propose to her. “I’d been feeling poorly and wondered if I was pregnant, so we got a pregnancy testing kit. We went out for dinner for my birthday, and, unbeknown to me, he was going to propose. He did propose and we found out I was expecting Kiki the same night. It was crazy”. She finished, “I don’t have a nanny. I’ve blagged it so far with family! My mum is my best friend and I hope I can be as good a mum to Kiki as she has been to me”. Brooks had to delay her marriage to Truman, due to the birth of Kiki.
She split with Truman in December 2005, but in May 2006 the couple were still living together in Thames Ditton. She said, “We knew our friendship would continue because that’s how our relationship started. People ask if it’s weird still living together, but we’re just getting on with it for Kiki’s sake”. Brooks also stated her desire to be single; “It’s too soon, I’m just having a good time”. Truman left in 2007. Brooks said that she became “disillusioned” with marriage, and after her split from Truman, she stated that “I don’t think I’ll ever want to get married”. In 2012, Brooks began dating architect Ben Hollington, of Bournemouth. Brooks had kept his identity a secret from the media, but whilst appearing on I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here, she said, “I’m dating someone. I’m very happy”. Daily Mirror interviewed Hollington who said, “Yes, she’s a really lovely girl. We’ve been together for a couple of months and it’s good fun”.
Awards and nominations
|2000||National Television Awards||Most Popular Newcomer||Nominated|
|British Soap Awards||Best Newcomer||Nominated|
|2001||Inside Soap Awards||Best Bitch||Won|
|2004||National Television Awards||Most Popular Actress||Nominated|
|TV Quick and Choice Awards||Best Soap Actress||Won|
|Best Soap Storyline||Nominated|
|British Soap Awards||Soap Bitch of the Year||Nominated|
|Villain of the Year||Won|
|Inside Soap Awards||Best Bitch||Won|
|Best Soap Storyline||Nominated|
|2005||British Soap Awards||Best Exit||Won|
|2009||All About Soap Awards||Best Bitch||Won|
|Inside Soap Awards||Won|
|End of Year EastEnders Awards||Won|
|2010||All About Soap Awards||Femme Fatale||Won|
|Digital Spy Soap Awards||Best Soap Bitch||Won|
|All About Soap Bubble Awards||Best Soap Love Triangle
(Shared with Lacey Turner and Neil McDermott)
|2011||British Soap Awards||Villain of the Year||Nominated|
|TV Times Awards||TV’s Most Popular Bitch||Won|
|2012||TVChoice Awards||Best Soap Actress||Nominated|
|Inside Soap Awards||Soap Bitch of the Year||Won|
|DS Awards||DS Female Soap Actor||Won|
|2013||TVChoice Awards||Best Soap Actress||Nominated|
|Inside Soap Awards||Soap Bitch of the Year||Nominated|
|2014||British Soap Awards||Villain of the Year||Nominated|
|British Soap Awards||Best Storyline – Hello Stacey, Goodbye Janine||Nominated|
- Television and Film
|1998||Turning Points||Emma||1 episode|
|The Demon Headmaster||The Brains|
|The Bill||Miriam Olston|
|Out of Tune||Carol|
|1999–2004, 2008–14||EastEnders||Janine Butcher||Regular cast member
|1999||The Bill||Claire Fellows||1 episode|
|2005||Angel of Death: The Beverly Allitt Story||Beverley Allitt|
|The Golden Hour||Cara Wilson|
|Bleak House||Jenny||5 episodes|
|2006||Take 3 Girls||Patsy||1 episode|
|2010||EastEnders: Last Tango in Walford||Janine Butcher||DVD release|
|2011||EastEnders: E20||Janine Malloy||3 episodes|
|Strictly Come Dancing (Christmas Special)||Herself (Participant)||Winner|
|2012||Celebrity Juice||1 episode|
|I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here||Winner|
|2013, 2014||Botched Up Bodies||Narrator|
|2015||The Dumping Ground||Stephanie Branston||1 episode|
|2016||The Chase: Celebrity Special||Herself (participant)||Didn’t appear in the final chase|
- Theatre and Radio
|2003||Office Games||Rose Brown|
|2004||The Play What I Wrote||Rose|
|2005–06||Dixon of Dock Green||Mary Dixon|
|2007||Our Country’s Good||Dabby Bryant|
|2013||Dusty Won’t Play||Dusty Springfield|
|2014||Beautiful Thing||Sandra Gangel|
|2015||A Street Car Named Desire||Blanche|