AS PHIL Mitchell in EastEnders, Steve McFadden has had to act his chops off to avoid being upstaged by stars like Barbara Windsor and Ross Kemp. This Christmas, he risks the same with technology.
The TV bad-guy will play villain Abanazar in the Orchard Theatre’s pantomime Aladdin opposite an array of ground-breaking 3D special effects.
Steve told News Shopper: “The 3D effect is supposed to be absolutely outstanding. We are going to have to work hard to equal it because apparently it is the star of the show.
“We’ll give it a run for its money.”
The 54-year-old actor, who has played one half of Walford’s Mitchell brothers for 22 years, said he is looking forward to a break from Albert Square and there’s a chance you may see him around town.
He said: “It is a bit of a cliché to say a change is as good as a rest, but its true.
“I have a holiday from my nine-to-five job and we have a lot of fun.
There’s even a chance you may see him around town.
He added: “We go out a little bit too much and drink a little bit too much and meet a whole bunch of new people, so it is all very different and exciting for me.”
But don’t worry if you bump into him and inevitably end up calling him Phil, though.
“I have never been upset by anyone making a mistake or not knowing my real name,” he said.
“I have done it to other actors in EastEnders myself.
“It has never bothered me, in fact it is quite a compliment that people know who you are.”
As well as a spell away from a hectic recording schedule, Steve said he was also looking forward to experimenting with a new role.
He said: “It is good to play a larger than life character that is intense in a different way. It is a completely different type of acting.
“I do panto most years, but I normally play Hook in Peter Pan, this is the first time I’ve played a different baddie, so it is going to be a new challenge for me.”
And Steve is certainly at home with a new challenge – his character has all kinds of storylines thrown at him by the writers in his two decades in EastEnders, from armed robbery to being shot to becoming a crack addict and a lot more in between.
He said: “I take it as a compliment that I am asked to do many and varied things. That’s my job, making stuff work is what I do. That is the joy in doing that job – the writers throw a lot of different stuff at me and that’s quite demanding and that’s why I carry on doing it.”
But how much longer can he go on?
“I don’t know,” Steve said. “I sometimes think I could do with a break more but doing panto gives me that break.
“You certainly get the chance to act in EastEnders and I am someone who still wants to act a lot.”
The cast on EastEnders is close, Steve said, particularly in the family groups. Steve said his closest friend from the soap is Barbara Windsor, who he still sees a lot.
And he relishes the chance to work with on-screen brother Ross Kemp, who played Grant, again.
He said: “Ross is a terrific actor. It was great to have a kind of double act. I miss that element.
“I am sure I will work with him again, absolutely sure I will.
“I think it is a timing thing – when it is right for him and when it is right for the show or another production to bring us together.
“Obviously with the history we have got, EastEnders would be a great place to do it. But it could be outside that environment.”
Aladdin runs at the Orchard Theatre from Saturday, December 8, to Sunday, January 6, 2013. For tickets call 01322 220000 or visit orchardtheatre.co.uk