EastEnders star puts the boot in

A TV soap star has revealed a secret loathing of gin palaces after helping raise £10,000 for the RNLI by swimming across the River Fal in Cornwall.

Actor Steve McFadden, 50, who plays tough-guy Phil Mitchell in BBC 1’s popular EastEnders series, prefers simple sailing boats, he said, explaining that he grew up in Cornwall where he discovered a love of mackerel fishing and sailing.

Millions of soap viewers have often wondered why there are pictures of sailing boats hanging on the walls of the Queen Vic pub, centre-piece of the soap opera. It’s partly because of Mr McFadden’s love of wind machines: he was a delivery skipper: taking yachts from the UK down to the Mediterranean, before getting into acting.

As he started to earn big money as a TV actor, Mr McFadden started buying his own yachts: ‘But I found that the more money I spent, the further I was getting away from the water.’ Big boats meant high topsides, flashy interiors and too much electro-wizardry.

‘I want to feel the spray on my face not be worrying about whether the air conditioning is working, or changing a lightbulb in the forecabin,’ he said.

So now Mr McFadden sails simpler, more basic boats: one in the Thames Estuary, one in Falmouth and a third in Majorca.