Magazine article The Spectator


Magazine article The Spectator


Article excerpt

'Y ou are a very naughty man!'

My heart pumps in my chest and a feeling of panic surges through my veins. I spin round to find a small, impeccably dressed Asian gentleman shaking a finger at me and twinkling with glee. This is an interesting situation. I do not wish to be rude. This man clearly enjoys the psychological torture my character, Michael Moon in EastEnders, inflicts on people. However, he has accosted me at the checkout at M&S. What to do? But wait, something else is happening: two elderly ladies have witnessed this exchange and are motoring over. One is clutching a soap magazine. These biddies mean business.

I can feel a good telling-off coming. I swiftly enter my PIN, pump my new friend's hand, grab my bags and speed off into the sweets aisle. In my trail I can hear a voice: 'He's better-looking on screen. And way more charming.'

Being an evil TV bastard can be fun.

It's rather satisfying to destroy people in soapland, as you can purge yourself of your meanest instincts. You get to access all the dark recesses of your mind and nobody punches you in the face. Well they do, but it's only pretend.

The shiners wash off in the bath.

Walking down Fairbanks, the perfectly straight corridor at Elstree Studios that bisects the stages of EastEnders and Holby City, one is assailed by ghosts. This over-lit time tunnel is filled with old camera stills from the scores of movies shot here over the years. Running my hand along the brickwork, I feel ancient notches and gashes. All small, but potentially important. What caused them? MobyDick's harpoon? Robert Mitchum's Scotch bottle? Cliff Richard's quiff?

Or perhaps Orson Welles barrelling back to his dressing room for luncheon.

He would have been famished from a morning stuck on set. If the Beeb canteen was anything like it is today, he may have started on the walls.

How's this for discombobulating?

I am sitting on a bench in Albert Square reading an article in the TLS about my character Michael Moon reading the TLS in Albert Square. During gaps between filming, I rather enjoy reading.

Sometimes I read fiction, sometimes a biography, sometimes a poem or two. I brought the TLS into the Square one day and it found its way on to the show. …

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