Little Mo first stormed onto our screens on BBC soap EastEnders in September of 2000 – almost 21 years ago.
In her time on the Square, timid Little Mo went through a lot – from her turbulent marriage with abusive husband Trevor Morgan and her arrest in 2002 to a shock pregnancy and affair twists.
Actress Kacey Ainsworth was one of 30 to audition for the iconic role, and since leaving the soap in 2006, has always maintained that she could make a return if bosses asked her to.
It’s no surprise her talent was recognised in an impressive four TV awards, including the British Soap Award for Best Actress for 2002-2003.
But life has clearly moved on for Kacey – from her glamorous hair transformation to continued television success.
To commemorate the 15 years since Little Mo made her explosive exit in 2006, as she was falsely accused of hurting her son by Walford locals, we take a look into Kacey’s life since leaving EastEnders.
Lustrous acting career
Since bidding farewell to EastEnders, Kacey has become best known for her recurring role as Cathy Keating in ITV period drama Grantchester.
But she’s also appeared in everything from kids’ TV show The Worst Witch and Tracy Beaker Returns to Call the Midwife and Casualty.
Kacey has also stepped on stage into the shoes of Mrs Lovett in a performance of Sweeney Todd at Liverpool’s Everyman Theatre back in 2019.
Her performance was dubbed "outstanding" in a Guardian review.
Now sporting a glamorous cropped peroxide blonde ‘do, Kacey looks a far cry from her shy on-screen persona Little Mo.
She regularly treats fans to glimpses inside her life via Instagram; this month posting a gorgeous makeup-free selfie while taking some time out to relax in nature.
Kacey wore a low-key grey sweatshirt as she posed in front of a wood speckled with gorgeous wildflowers.
She captioned the snap: "Dull day maybe but nature still in full bloom!"
In another snap, as Kacey showed off her COVID-19 vaccination card and sticker, she looked stunning in a black leather jacket and a snazzy pair of tortoiseshell glasses.
She gave the camera a cheeky wink as she wrote: "The joys of being on Level 5 b*****s! #VaccinationDone."
And of course, the star opts for a different look entirely for her appearance on Grantchester, sporting a gorgeous red vintage hairstyle and glam 50s makeup.
Upon returning to film the series in March, Kacey posted a snap of herself outside the Grantchester Reading Room with her ginger locks up in a pink hair-net and wearing a face mask.
"I am here… on the edge of a moment… First time back in the village this season… finally home!" the star posted.
Little Mo’s exit wasn’t as clear cut as it might have seemed at the time.
She opened up in 2019 about her decision to make what she hoped would be a graceful exit from Albert Square, to the Series Linked TV podcast.
"I remember one BBC executive saying to me, ‘You’ve got ideas above your station.’ I remember thinking to myself, ‘What station is that? What do you mean?’"
She added: "It’s a funny thing about EastEnders, they don’t want you to leave there. You can get away with it if you come from Corrie.
"So Sarah Lancashire, Suranne Jones, they never put ex-Corrie.
"But people like myself and Tracy-Ann Oberman who’ve left EastEnders and created extensive careers outside, we’re always with that moniker."
Kacey hit out at another BBC show that she claimed can "flatline" actors’ TV careers.
She discussed Strictly Come Dancing on the same podcast, explaining: "It’s a great programme but it does shut more doors than it opens and it’s crazy, because you wouldn’t think that, but it does. You wouldn’t get any roles.
"You’d end up doing ‘My Celebrity Dog’s Wotsits Are Bigger Than Your Celebrity Dog’s Wotsits’. I’ve had lots of friends who’ve said doing reality really flatlined their careers.
"Unless you want to do musicals and stuff and no-one’s ever seen you do anything like that before and you can sing, then that’s great.
"I only say that because I’ve had lots of friends who've been on it and they've all said to me that doing reality shows, not necessarily just Strictly, but doing reality shows has really flatlined their careers."
Kacey’s aesthetic isn’t the only thing that’s a far cry from her life as Little Mo.
The star also has an incredibly cosy family life which is nothing like the trials and tribulations she faced in Walford.
She lives with her partner Darren Hales and their two children in rural Hertfordshire.
Kacey has been candid in the past about being a mum to a child on the Autism spectrum, as her son Elwood has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
She opened up to The Mirror about her son’s diagnosis in 2019, explaining: "Everything is negotiated and explained in advance.
"When he was younger we would show him pictures of a restaurant and even discuss what time we were going to leave."
But she added: "My son is a unique, wonderful individual and looks at the world in a completely different way."
The star also has a daughter, Blossom, aged 16.
She tweeted a cute selfie of the two together, looking remarkably alike, and wrote: “Not much is ever said about the siblings of those with ASD. Our half neurotypical half ASD house my girl resides.
"Over the years she has had to acquiesce for the greater good. Have patience and understanding, play the role of mumma if I’m not there AND be 15 – all with this smile!"
Kacey seems to be at her happiest when she’s surrounded by fluffy friends.
She regularly shares adorable snaps of her dogs, which include Leonard – a Jack Russell – and her two Cocker Spaniels Flora and Hartley.
And Kacey – along with her daughter Blossom – is also a fan of horses, and has a gorgeous white mare called Jolene.
The star tweeted a pic of herself getting prepped for a horse ride, writing alongside it: "No-one who knows me well would have placed me at a stables cleaning tack at 7am on a Saturday morning! #YouveChanged."
She even has two sheep – Biscuit and Daisy!
In September last year, Kacey posted a cryptic snap that implied she could be returning to her role as a Slater sister once more.
The actress arrived back at Elstree Studios – close to where EastEnders is filmed – that month, and sent fans into overdrive with speculation she could finally be making a return to Walford.
"I don’t know why I’m frightened, I know my way around here…" Kacey teased on social media.
One eager fan jumped on the opportunity to say: "No way! Please say Little Mo is returning!"
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While another penned: "Hope this is a Little Mo comeback."
The tweet was even liked by her former co-star Alex Ferns, who played her monstrous hubby Trevor.
EastEnders airs on BBC One weekdays
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