Natalie Ann Cassidy (born 13 May 1983) is an English actress, best known for her role on EastEnders where she played Sonia Fowler for fourteen years. She also appeared in the BBC Two sitcom Psychoville was a contestant on the seventh series of Strictly Come Dancing and the ninth series of Celebrity Big Brother. On 9 April 2012 it was announced by Cassidy that she would become a regular on Loose Women as of 13 April 2012.
As a child, Cassidy attended the Anna Scher Theatre. She joined the cast of EastEnders in 1993, playing Sonia Jackson. In 2006, she played a rival to Lauren Cooper in an episode of The Catherine Tate Show screened on BBC Two. On 9 April 2006, the BBC announced Cassidy's departure from EastEnders with her final scenes being screened in February 2007. She then concentrated on work in the theatre, appearing in extensive UK tours of The Vagina Monologues, Bedroom Farce and Gertrude's Secret opposite Prunella Scales and a run of The Cherry Orchard at the Chichester Festival Theatre opposite Diana Rigg.
Towards the end of 2007, Cassidy made headlines after losing a lot of weight, and released a fitness DVD entitled Natalie Cassidy's Then and Now Workout, which became the fastest-selling weight-loss DVD ever in the UK. In 2008, she appeared in the documentary Natalie Cassidy's Diet Secrets for BBC Three. In 2008 she appeared as a regular panellist on the topical discussion series The Wright Stuff on Five. Later that year she gained press coverage for giving up her diet and regaining considerable weight. Her personal trainer stated that Cassidy had "slipped back into her old habits" and that she was "really disappointed." In 2009, Cassidy was seen in a supporting role in the BBC Two comedy TV series Psychoville, alongside Dawn French and Eileen Atkins. The first episode was aired in June 2009. She also provided the voice-over for BBC Three's Underage and Pregnant.
In 2009, Cassidy signed up for a series of Strictly Come Dancing, beginning in October. Her professional partner was Vincent Simone and she was voted off the competition in fifth place on 28 November 2009. Cassidy joined ex-EastEnders actor James Alexandrou and Nina Wadia to create comedy shorts for BBC Raw Words, an adult literacy website. The series of video clips about story writing also included appearances from Lenny Henry and Rowland Rivron.
On 25 October 2009 it was announced that Cassidy would reprise her role as Sonia in EastEnders in 2010 with her on screen family Lindsey Coulson who played Carol Jackson, Dean Gaffney who played Robbie Jackson and Devon Anderson as Billie Jackson. The Jackson family were reunited with Patsy Palmer who rejoined the soap in 2008 as Bianca Jackson.Cassidy appeared in a small number of episodes between 8 and 18 February 2010. In 2010 E4 announced that Natalie Cassidy would be starring in her own reality TV show, Natalie Cassidy: Becoming Mum.
On 17 December 2010 it was announced that Cassidy would reprise her EastEnders role in 2011 for a single episode. On 5 January 2012, Cassidy entered the Celebrity Big Brother house and became the fifth evictee of the series.
The comedy show Very Important People, the first season of which aired in 2012 on Channel 4 (UK), features a spoof reality show segment entitled "Natalie Cassidy Is Doing This Now" which shows its subject engaged in various menial and humorous situations, for example hosing out bins, sorting through old pens and taking her spare change to coinstar.
In May 2002, when Cassidy was 19, her mother died of bowel cancer. From then on, she became extremely close to her EastEnders co-star Wendy Richard, often referring to her as her "second mum". Richard died of breast cancer in February 2009, which left Cassidy close to a nervous breakdown.
In September 2004, Cassidy underwent a breast enhancement operation, transforming her from a 36A to 36D.
On 16 March 2010, Cassidy announced that she was 12 weeks' pregnant with her first child by her boyfriend of nine months, transport manager Adam Cottrell. On 24 September 2010 at 10.21am, Cassidy had by caesarean a baby girl named Eliza Beatrice weighing 8 lb 15oz.On 25 May 2011, Cassidy's boyfriend was charged with two offences of assault and two charges of criminal damage after a row turned physical.