Martine McCutcheon watched first-hand the adverse effects drug and alcohol abuse could have on a person. In an interview with The Guardian, the Loose Women actress recalls growing up around her abusive father, whose behaviour would take a drastic hit when he was under the influence.
"My father was very handsome and charismatic. Beautiful women fell at his feet. Mum was really attractive, but couldn't understand his fascination with her. The bottom line was that they were both broken. He could sense she had had difficult times and wanted to fix her, but it became a dysfunctional, obsessive love," the 41-year-old recalled.
"My father also had drink and drug problems – he would see red and do horrific things. Mum suffered domestic abuse at his hands and, when I was a baby, he threatened to drop me over a balcony when he was high."
Despite the troubled childhood, the Love Actually star also recalls positive moments, courtesy her mother Jenny Ponting, who she describes as her closest friend. "My mum worked hard to balance things out," she said, referring to the numerous guests they would always have at their home.
"Our family were the friends we chose from our ethnically-diverse neighbourhood in east London. There was a real sense of community and people looked after each other."
Their mother-daughter relationship is clearly one McCutcheon is extremely proud of and explained just how close the two are. "I can talk to Mum about anything. The first night I slept with a man, I went home and told her," she said. "It was such a major thing in my life that I had to share it with her. She tried to be casual about it when, in reality, she must have been pulling her hair out. But she was brilliant. I'd never have known."
Today, the EastEnders alum is a mother as well, but recalls that having a successful pregnancy came with its own challenges. "I was in my late 30s when I had my son, Rafferty (with husband Jack McManus). ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) and Lyme disease had shot my immune system to pieces. I miscarried several times because my body wasn't strong enough to keep the baby. It makes the fact that I have Rafferty even more amazing."
The actress most recently reprised her role as Natalie, Hugh Grant's character's love interest in the sequel to Love Actually. The television short film Red Nose Day Actually released on BBC on 24 March.