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Paul Nicholas: Being a sex symbol hindered my career

EastEnders villain Paul Nicholas (opens in new tab) has said being a heartthrob in the 1980s was an obstacle to his acting career.

The 70-year-old actor, who has joined the BBC One soap as Gavin Sullivan, became a sex symbol after starring in the sitcom Just Good Friends with Jan Francis, and claimed his good looks held him back.

Paul Nicholas and Jan Francis

Paul Nicholas and Jan Francis (PA)


He told the Daily Mirror: “It was a hindrance because people don’t think you can do anything else. I had a pop career in the 70s with lightweight songs so I went out and sang in a lightweight way.

“People thought that was me, but it was me playing a character to sell the song. It’s the same with light acting roles.”

Paul Nicholas in his younger days

Paul Nicholas in his younger days (PA)


Paul continued: “I think you get more experienced as a performer and know yourself much better as a person. I’m able to move into more character roles rather than trying to be a sex symbol.”

He added: “Being older actually takes the pressure off me to some extent because I don’t have to be attractive to play character roles.”

Paul Nicholas as Gavin Sullivan in EastEnders

Paul Nicholas as Gavin Sullivan in EastEnders (BBC)


The actor said he had to keep his thrilling EastEnders (opens in new tab) storyline under wraps.

Fans watched as Gavin revealed he was Sharon Mitchell’s real father with the line, “Hello princess” – Dirty Den’s greeting to her.

Gavin told Sharon about her real dad (BBC)

Gavin told Sharon about her real dad (BBC)


“It’s a big secret, but it had to be because they don’t want actors running round saying, ‘I’m going to be Sharon’s dad!’”

Former EastEnders screenwriter Sarah Phelps took offence at the line used, tweeting she felt 'bilious' when she heard the recycled phrase.

@theguyliner feeling bilious actually.

— Sarah Phelps (@PhelpsieSarah) November 2, 2015


Paul explained: “The ‘Hello princess’ was something Den used with Sharon as a child and they wanted that link to be definite, and I think that was a good way to bring it all together.”


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