Bond star Colin Salmon says he jumped at the chance of joining EastEnders and gave short shrift to anyone who questioned the move.

The star, best known as Charles Robinson, the right-hand man of Judi Dench’s M in three 007 films, is thrilled to play former boxer George Knight.

And dad-of-four Colin, who was born in Hackney, East London, said he needs to work in the capital because his wife of 35 years, artist Fiona Hawthorne, has a lung disease.

The 61-year-old said anyone who was sniffy about his decision to join the BBC soap had got him all wrong. “They don’t know me,” he shrugged. “It’s a no-brainer. My wife’s not well so I can’t be far from home.

“I was born in the Mothers’ Hospital, in Clapton Pond, decades ago, and I’m an East Ender and it was a big show for us growing up.

“Everybody I’ve told I’m doing this has got really excited.

“The universe has been really kind and I’m loving it. It’s like a meeting of theatre, film and telly – it’s a different genre. You’ve got to work hard. I like working hard and I’m happy.”

Colin’s character moves into the Queen Vic alongside his girlfriend Elaine Peacock, mother of landlady Linda Carter (Kellie Bright).

He and Elaine, played by Brittas Empire and Absolutely Fabulous star Harriet Thorpe, are joined by George’s daughters Anna and Gina.

On his first day, Colin was helped by Steve McFadden, who plays Phil Mitchell.

Their characters become pals, brought together by their love of boxing, and Colin said Steve, who has worked on the show since 1990, had been a huge help. “He’s brilliant. His advice was ‘Just get it done. Be ready’. He is the boss. He’s the alpha but he’s there on the sofa, smiling and chatting with everybody. It’s not like he’s distant. So he’s the dude.”

Colin says that George comes with baggage but there are similarities between him and his character. “I’m a dad and I’m a big guy, and George is a dad and he’s a big guy,” he laughed.

“He throws his arm around his family. And he respects and understands Linda, even though she is a thorn in his side.”

2023-05-25T19:03:08Z dg43tfdfdgfd