EastEnders actor Joe Swash has revealed that his life-threatening battle with meningitis last year has had a major impact on his soap career.

Speaking to The Sun, the 26-year-old – whose character Mickey Miller has been written out of the show – said that the illness forced him to take three months off work and left him with the challenge of learning to speak again.

“My illness had a massive impact on the job,” he said. “When I came back I couldn’t find my feet. New producers came in and brought in new actors and I got lost down the pecking order.”

“Mickey just became light relief – the joker. That’s all right but I’ve got more ambition.”

“I would have stayed for ages if I had the good stuff, but I wasn’t getting the work.”

Swash was in hospital for six weeks after being struck down by the illness last year – and at one point was so ill the doctors were uncertain whether he would pull through,

Once he did recover, he had to undergo gruelling physiotherapy.

“I had to learn everything again,” he said. I had to learn coordination and my speech was slurred. It felt like my tongue was too big for my mouth. And I had terrible headaches.”

And watching EastEnders from home during his recovery made him realise what he was missing out on.

“I had a huge storyline with Dawn Swann and our dad,” he revealed. “There was meant to be a big relationship with me and him but I had to miss all that.”