'EastEnders' star Laurie Brett shares the excitement of her first pregnancy at 40

While Laurie Brett’s EastEnders character Jane Beale is unable to have children, in real life her castmates are celebrating her pregnancy joy.

“I keep arriving at my dressing room to find that Steve McFadden [who plays hard man Phil Mitchell] has left all sort of gifts outside my door, including a beautiful crib,” she told HELLO!. in her first interview since the pregnancy was announced. “He’s been like Santa.”

Laurie, whose baby is due in May, has also been seeking pregnancy advice from Jo Joyner, who is mum to twins in real life, while Linda Henry [Shirley Carter] and Cheryl Fergison [Heather Trott] have promised to take her out shopping.

Laurie wanted to keep mum about her pregnancy in the early stages, but Adam Woodyatt, who plays her on-screen husband Ian Beale, quickly suspected.

“I didn’t tell him; he told me,” she revealed, with a laugh. “He said: ‘You’re pregnant, aren’t you?’ It’s not surprising that he knew as we spend more time with each other than we do with our partners. I had suddenly become very sensitive to certain smells and I wasn’t going out for cigarette breaks.”

The actress also told HELLO! how she and her actor boyfriend Johnny Milroy were “shocked” when they found out she was pregnant as they weren’t “actively trying”. Both are delighted about becoming first-time parents, however.

While Laurie had become increasingly broody in recent years, she had wondered whether she would have children at all. “It didn’t consume me, but it was at the forefront of my mind,” she said. “I thought I would be very sad if it didn’t happen. I felt as though something was missing from my life, and Johnny really listened and understood that.”

The couple began dating just last year after being introduced by a mutual friend in a North London pub. Johnny has appeared in countless theatre productions as well as TV dramas including Waking the Dead and Ultimate Force, are “cut from the same cloth.”

The couple, who have found out the sex of their unborn child but are keeping it a secret for now, are amazed at how quickly their life has changed since meeting each other. “It can change like this in an instant,” said Laurie.