Perry Fenwick: EastEnders saved me from quitting acting

  • Bang Showbiz
  • 20 January 2021
Perry Fenwick as Billy Mitchell

Perry Fenwick as Billy Mitchell

'EastEnders' star Perry Fenwick has admitted being on the BBC One soap "saved" him from quitting acting in his mid-30s and trying to become a taxi driver

Perry Fenwick has told how EastEnders "saved" him from quitting acting and becoming a black cab driver.

The 58-year-old star was on the verge of becoming a real-life version of his character, hapless Billy Mitchell, when his acting work dried up in his mid-30s, but he set about trying to forge a career as a cabbie by starting to learn the world-famous Knowledge, in which applicants must learn the quickest routes through London's complicated road network before they can become black cab drivers.

He said: "I was acting a long time before 'EastEnders' came along, and to be honest with you, the show saved me – there's no doubt about it.

"I had some good years as a professional actor appearing in films, TV and theatre – and then I hit an age, around 35, where it was really hard getting cast in anything.

"I was very Billy Mitchell, actually.

"I couldn't get an acting job, so I started learning the Knowledge in order to become a black cab driver.

"And then four episodes of 'EastEnders' turned into 23 years."

Billy is currently involved in an awkward love triangle with his ex Honey Mitchell (Emma Barton) and Jay Brown (Jamie Borthwick), who he is a father figure to.

Jay and Honey shared a kiss over Christmas and are set to tell Billy their feelings are very much mutual for each other, despite telling him otherwise after he caught them having a sneaky smooch – and Perry admitted there is plenty of irony in Billy's nearest and dearest getting together.

He told Inside Soap magazine: "The great thing about myself, Emma and Jamie is that, collectively, we have about 60 years of history on the show – and the irony to all of this, is that Jay's dad, Jase, was the reason Honey and Billy separated in the first place.

"Billy helped Jase out on a job, Jase was killed, and Billy took Jay in. That's why Billy feels so let down."

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