Shameless star David Threlfall may play Britain’s worst dad on screen – but he wept when he met poverty-stricken Aids orphans in Ethiopia.

The actor – party animal Frank Gallagher in the hit C4 series – was left haunted by the heartbreaking scenes he witnessed during his harrowing visit.

The 53-year-old was in the Horn of Africa backing Save the Children’s free healthcare campaign for sub-Saharan countries.

During his eye-opening tour, the Manchester-born star crumbled as he met orphaned children in the northern district of Legambo.

He said: “This trip was really distressing. Every time the shutters come down in the darkness, when I shut my eyes, the disturbing things I’ve seen keep replaying in my mind.

“It’s just heartbreaking to see so many broken down children who look like old men and women before their time.”

The actor has urged wealthy nations not to look the other way while people die from poverty.

“Ethiopia has plenty of kids, like the Gallaghers, who have fallen through the cracks in the system,” he said. “But unlike Shameless, the results here are anything but funny and usually tragic.

“At least the Gallaghers get free schooling and free healthcare. These Ethiopian kids have absolutely nothing.”