What was it that made you leave the show after six years?
“I only had two weeks off between leaving The Bill [Scott was in it for six years] and starting EastEnders, and when I got into acting, I never saw myself staying in one or two jobs for as long as I have. I like the nomadic nature of acting, but then I had a son.”
What influence did that have on you?
“When you have a baby, a light clicks on in your head. You suddenly have a responsibility and I knew I had to go out and get a job and a regular pay cheque. It gave me 12 years to live as a normal person, to look after my family and live where I wanted to live, but now I need to explore and test myself. I don’t want to get bitter and twisted about ‘What ifs…’ I’ve got a great agent and I am getting a lot of interest both here and in America.”
Do you want to make a name for yourself in the States, then?
“I am not mad on going there unless I have to because I have got my family here. I’ve got a son in school. If you are in something syndicated and are going to make loads of dosh, then you can move everyone over and rent the house out. However, I am an actor and I do accept that you have to go where the work is.”
There are no explosions, deaths or destruction when Jack bows out of EastEnders. Why is that?
“If you are not going out with a bang, you need to make it low key and that way the door is always open. Jack realises that the life he wants with Ronnie is just a dream. It’s not going to happen and he can’t live near her, he has to get away and decides to go to France to see his daughter.”
You’ve now finished filming. Are you missing EastEnders?
‘I miss not going into the studios at Elstree, but this is new. I am going to auditions, watching films and meeting casting people. I’m enjoying it. As for Jack, well he’s not dead, so who knows?”
What are your immediate plans for the future?
“I’m playing Abanazar in Aladdin at the Bournemouth Pavilion Theatre. He is the bad guy. I’m really going to work it. I have been asked to do panto a few times. A few of my friends such as Paul O’Grady say it is a blast and when I chose to leave eight months ago, I was asked and thought at least I will be working at Christmas. It’s going to be great.”
How do you cope with being a celebrity?
“You have to focus on the more important things in life – like your family and not be prey to the obvious pitfalls of celebrity. You have to be even more exemplary in your behaviour when you are in the public eye. Besides, I don’t really want to go out. I am 42 years old and the only way you will get me out is to push me there and wheel me in. I go fishing and there isn’t even enough time for that.”
Did you get a leaving gift from everyone at EastEnders?
“A portable loo. There are cut outs of all the cast members heads around it. It’s a joke, but I won’t go into details!”
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