Maisie Smith launches listening bench in a bid to combat loneliness as she admits shaking on live TV


Maisie Smith talked about masking her feelings with a smile in a discussion about mental health on Good Morning Britain on Monday.

The actress, 20, admitted she was ‘shaking with nerves’ as she talked about the show’s 1 Million Minutes initiative which she has teamed up with to design a listening bench to help anyone struggling with loneliness.

The EastEnders star, who is set to depart the show later this month, decided to paint the seat in the colours of the LGBTQ+ rainbow flag, explaining that she’s always felt very aware of her own mental health, and can relate to her LGBTQ+ friends who experience similar issues. 

Helping hand: Maisie Smith, 20, has launched a listening bench in a bid to combat loneliness and vulnerability in the UK, announcing her news on Good Morning Britain on Monday

Helping hand: Maisie Smith, 20, has launched a listening bench in a bid to combat loneliness and vulnerability in the UK, announcing her news on Good Morning Britain on Monday

She explained: ‘I’m always very open about mental health.

‘It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, what you have – everyone is going through something and I just think the world would be a kinder place if everyone understood that.

‘I think especially growing up in the limelight as a teenager you’re very judgmental of yourself so when you do see comments of other people judging you it can add to the strain of the things you’re already going through.

‘I think people do think I’m confident because I cover my nerves with a big smile and that’s what I’ve been doing my whole life.’ 

Self care: The actress appeared on the show to talk about the its 1 Million Minutes initiative which she has teamed up with to design her bench

Self care: The actress appeared on the show to talk about the its 1 Million Minutes initiative which she has teamed up with to design her bench

Overwhelmed: Maisie admitted she was shaking from nerves as she appeared live on television

Overwhelmed: Maisie admitted she was shaking from nerves as she appeared live on television

On why she decided to paint her bench the colours of the LGBTQ+ rainbow flag, she added: ‘I’ve got a lot of friends in the LGBTQ+ community and I know for a lot of people it’s not an easy subject to talk about which is the entire process of this campaign is promotion talking so it felt quite personal for me to do that.

Show host Susanna Reid asked: ‘If you were on the bench, would you feel comfortable having a conversation with someone on one?’

‘It’s not something I feel comfortable doing but I think that’s why I chose the design of the bench because it’s a conversation starter. 

Eye catching: The EastEnders star decided to paint the seat in the colours of the LGBTQ+ rainbow flag

Eye catching: The EastEnders star decided to paint the seat in the colours of the LGBTQ+ rainbow flag

‘It allows you to talk – it’s bright, it’s loud, it’s colourful and for people like me who struggle talking and just having general conversations, it allows people to talk about something and that was the whole idea behind it.’

Good Morning Britain’s 1 Million Minutes initiative, which launched on the show on Wednesday 1 December, will roll out across the UK and is backed by a host of celebrities including Vicky McClure, Calum Best, Kadeena Cox, Matt Whitlock and David James.

Benches will appear in Nottingham, Windsor, Belfast, Edinburgh, Exeter and Leeds and viewers will be asked to pledge time rather than money to volunteer to those who feel lonely.

Kind words: 'Everyone is going through something and I just think the world would be a kinder place if everyone understood that,' said Maisie

Kind words: ‘Everyone is going through something and I just think the world would be a kinder place if everyone understood that,’ said Maisie

Meanwhile, Maisie spoke of her nerves at appearing on the show on Monday, admitting she was shaking while on-set.

When asked how she deals with nerves, she explained: ‘It depends what it is. A lot of the time – and it’s going to sound really stupid – but I write a script. 

‘I write down all of the questions that I could be asked and try and come up with something or my brain goes to mush when I’m under pressure, I just completely freeze and no words will come out.’

The star, who is set to leave her role of Tiffany Butcher in EastEnders later this month also said she may well be back on EastEnders despite her upcoming departure.  

She said: ‘I’m excited about it. I think it’s going to be quite a shock. I haven’t even told my family how it happens so it should be a good watch.

‘You never really leave EastEnders. They always manage to find a way back. They’ll even bring back people from the dead. Even if I did [die], they’d bring me back at some point – you never know!’

Rattling: The star also admitted she was shaking while on television, revealing she writes a script to help with her television appearances and interviews

Rattling: The star also admitted she was shaking while on television, revealing she writes a script to help with her television appearances and interviews

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