Jacqueline Jossa has praised EastEnders' teen booze storyline for "highlighting" problems faced by many youths.

Jo is amazing. I am like a sponge when I am with her and Jake. I work best with them because I have to work up to their level.

The 19-year-old actress - who portrays troubled teen Lauren Branning in the BBC One soap - explained her character has hit the bottle as she struggles to deal with the reality of her mum Tanya (Jo Joyner) battling cervical cancer, a situation mirrored by many people her age.

She said: "At first to Lauren drinking was a laugh. Then it became a way of forgetting - she has carried the burden of keeping her mum's illness secret.

"It's good 'EastEnders' have done the storyline. It highlights that teenagers who people label irresponsible could be doing it to deal with worries they are keeping to themselves. What they actually need is help or someone to talk to."

Jacqueline admitted she is "like a sponge" when it comes to working with her on-screen mum and dad, Tanya and Max (Jake Wood), as they are so talented.

She added in an interview with The Sun newspaper: "Jo is amazing. I am like a sponge when I am with her and Jake. I work best with them because I have to work up to their level."