Martine McCutcheon shot to fame as Tiffany Mitchell on EastEnders 28 years ago (January 24) – but her time in the spotlight has been dogged by health issues, money worries and a tragic loss.
The 46-year-old – who left EastEnders in 1998 – went on to appear in a number of shows, most recently Celebrity Gogglebox and The Masked Singer UK.
And over the past few years she has been sending fans wild with sizzling Instagram uploads, however she has also been very open about the difficult times in her life.
READ MORE: Martine McCutcheon slips into figure-hugging dress after 'toughest year'
Last year she suddenly lost her brother, she has also suffered with miscarriages in the past, has a number of health issues and was even declared bankrupt.
On the anniversary of Martine's first EastEnders episode, Daily Star takes a look inside her life – the ups and the downs.
In 2003, Martine starred in the classic Christmas film Love Actually, five years after she left her role as Tiffany in EastEnders.
And it couldn't have come at a better time, as the brunette beauty recently revealed she had actually been planning on leaving the showbiz world behind.
She told The Mirror in December 2022: "At that time, I’d decided to give up the business. I'd worked from the age of 17 playing Tiffany – it was a relentless schedule of 22 scenes a day, six days a week, alongside my pop career. There was a lot of pressure, a lot of touring and I battled with exhaustion and felt unwell.
"Then there was the press scrutiny. I had paparazzi running after me. I was only 23 and lived on my own – it was scary. I just thought, ‘I love what I do but I don’t love what comes with it’, so I called my agent and gave up the industry. I remember thinking, ‘If I’m meant to stay in it I’ll get a big sign.'"
Of course, she did then get that sign when she got a call from Richard Curtis to appear opposite Hugh Grant in the movie – which she said was her dream.
Since then, she's had a steady flow of roles while also appearing as herself in non-acting jobs.
Back in 2011, Martine was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), before being given a Lyme disease diagnosis six years later.
She has also been very honest about living with fibromyalgia – a chronic pain condition – and how it affects her life, especially her weight loss journey.
Martine told Hello! in 2021 that she struggles the most with her ME, saying she felt "unsupported or misunderstood" because her disease is "invisible".
She said: "I look at it that when I get symptoms or when my body starts clanging, it's a sign for me to pace myself, rest. And I think it gives me that when somebody else would just logically think, 'Oh, I need to just take a rest', mentally, I don't do that, so my body does it for me. So, yeah, I've definitely learned to look at it as a good messenger rather than something that simply gets in the way."
And while Martine is now a mum-of-one, she has had trouble during pregnancy before, suffering with a number of miscarriages.
She previously said on Loose Women: "I didn’t have problems getting pregnant, I had problems keeping them. And because of the ME I just wasn’t strong enough.
"I had lost babies and it was horrific every time."
In 2013, Martine was declared bankrupt after she filed for insolvency.
The BBC reported that, according to bankruptcy trustees KPMG, Martine's "largest creditor" was the HMRC.
Martine had been estimated to be worth £2million at the height of her fame, however after she was declared bankrupt her £25,000 engagement ring from now-husband Jack McManus was even seized.
She said in 2016 that things were bleak, saying: "I just thought my health, money, career have all been taken from me, and now even my engagement ring – the one thing that represents what is solid in my life – has gone."
In October 2022, Martine shared the heartbreaking news that her younger brother Laurence had died at the age of 31, weeks before he was due to get married.
She told fans that her heart was "forever broken", saying that Laurence had died "suddenly" and that "there is no medical explanation".
Martine told her fans: "We are having to accept that nothing will bring our boy back to us."
She said she felt "so proud and fiercely protective of him" from the day he was born, explaining how fun-loving he was.
Martine finished her tragic message by saying: "I'm scared to live without you LJ but I know you will want us to truly live, laugh and love in your memory. I will try I promise."
Since re-entering the spotlight thanks to a stint on The Masked Singer UK, Martine has been keeping fans on their toes with her gorgeous photos on Instagram.
She regularly shares glowing snaps, often showcasing her slimmed-down figure in tight clothing or outfits with plunging necklines.
The former soap star even took fans on holiday with her when she jetted off to Turkey and shared a number of snaps in a green swimsuit.
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