Inside Rita Simons’ life – split agony, depression battle and bitter EastEnders exit

She was know for playing brash and sassy Roxy Mitchell in EastEnders but off camera, Rita Simons’ life was running into trouble in the months after BBC producers killed off her character

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The Chase: Rita Simons chats to Bradley Walsh

She was one of EastEnders biggest stars for more than a decade, the off-screen smiling mum of two who shared it all with her long-term husband with a career going in only one direction.

But inside one shattering year, Rita Simons’ life path dramatically changed course – and it caused her no end of torment.

The star was not only dealing with the end of her 14-year marriage to hairdresser Theo Silveston, she was working non-stop and soon found herself battling depression and insomnia as her weight plummeted.

In the end, the lethal cocktail of stress, pressure and heartbreak caused her to suffer a nervous breakdown.

Life has not always been easy for Rita since leaving Roxy Mitchell behind

So it’s no wonder Rita, 44, who played Roxy Mitchell in the BBC soap, describes the period as “one of the worst times” of her life.

The actress, who has twin daughters Maiya, 15, and Jaimee, 16, needed her kids close at hand to move forward – but things weren’t always easy at home, either.

Now, in a new relationship, life is certainly looking up.

But she has had to work through some really tough times to get back on track – we look at how she did it after fans got a glimpse of the star on the Chase.

Unhappy EastEnders exit

The actress wanted to keep the door open but EastEnders bosses had other ideas


BBC/Steven Peskett)

Rita left EastEnders in epic style – but she struggled to accept the fact the producers couldn’t let Roxy live on.

She was killed off alongside her on-screen sister Ronnie, actress Samantha Womack, when the sisters drowned in horror scenes on New Year’s Day 2017.

But she told the Daily Star Sunday : “I wish they hadn’t killed us off. I haven’t quite made peace with the fact we are dead.

“Both Sam and I were gutted. That decision was made by one person and we had no choice in the matter.”

Divorce agony

Rita and husband Theo called it quits after nearly 15 years of marriage

Soon after her Square exit, Rita and husband of 14 years Theo Silverston called it a day.

Although it was only in August 2020 that anyone outside her circle of friends and of course her family found out.

The actress had been “growing apart” from the hairdresser as they decided to end their relationship.

Her agent confirmed: “Rita and Theo have been separated for almost two years and Theo moved out of the family home some time ago.”

The split would go on to cause real damage as Rita started to struggle.

Depression and insomnia battle

She faced some serious health battles after leaving the soap



Her divorce really took its toll as her weigh sunk and her mental health deteriorated.

In an interview with OK! Magazine, Rita said: “I was physically ill every other week and I lost loads of weight.

“Every night I would go on stage in the West End in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie having just had some fraught conversation with Theo, and later on having just received legal letters. And I would just cry, go on stage, come off, cry and respond.

“I also had terrible insomnia for about a year. When I’m unhappy, my sleep is the first thing to go and then the knock-on is the depression and anxiety.”

Nervous breakdown torment

The severity of the situation hit her while on stage


Loughborough Echo)

After winning new fans in I’m A Celeb and throwing herself into work after a tough time, things suddenly came to a head.

In 2019, while starring in play The House On Cold Hill, the star had a nervous breakdown.

“My mind went to some major dark places,” admitted Rita.

The TV favourite says it was one of the worst times of her life but says lockdown actually helped cope with her issues.

Family ‘heartache’

Her daughter Maiya, 15, is profoundly deaf in her right ear



Rita’s daughter Maiya, 15, was diagnosed as being profoundly deaf in her right ear at just six-months old.

The star also explained she has limited hearing in her left ear.

She says that it ‘breaks her heart’ that she has ‘no idea’ what people in face masks are saying.

She tweeted: “Masks, not denying the need for them…All I know is my deaf daughter has no idea what anyone is saying as she can’t lip read a person in a mask…but we all wear ours anyway. Breaks my heart a little bit for her.”

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