Ex EastEnders star Nabil Elouahabi is leaving his reckless youth behind and embracing his age to play a dad in C4’s gang drama Top Boy.

“I’m officially old!” says Nabil, 38, who joins the cast of the BAFTA-winning show which depicts life on the drug-filled estates of east London for the second series.

“I play Mr Mustapha, father of Gem (Giaccamo Mancini) who’s a series regular. We’re slowly introduced to Gem’s home life and as he gets more embroiled in ‘street’ activity we see how this affects their relationship at home.”

“I feel it has depth and I’m thrilled to be playing him. I’ve always been drawn to the rogue characters, so I’m relishing the gravitas and grounded character of Mr Mustapha. He’s your average working man. No nonsense.”

Nabil has appeared on the big and small screen many times in recent years, but his big breakthrough came in 2003 when he won the role of Tariq Larousi in EastEnders. He starred in the Walford soap for three years, until his character and on-screen family, the Ferreiras, were axed.

Despite that setback, Nabil’s career continued to accelerate and he went on to star in hit American shows such as Generation Kill and The Wire, before appearing in Zero Dark Thirty, a recent film about the American Secret Service plot to apprehend Osama Bin Laden.

But while he’s been busy in America, Nabil was a big fan of Top Boy and jumped at the chance to get involved in the new series.

“The first series blew me away and I think we’ve built on it. When I viewed the second series, I was blown away by its beauty. It’s cinematic and gives the world an epic feel. As well as that the characters are real. I truly believe this is going to last as a testament to British drama.”

Top Boy begins at 9pm on C4 tonight.