Steve McFadden has admitted Barbara Windsor's departure nearly prompted him to quit EastEnders. But the actor, who has played Peggy Mitchell's bruising son Phil since 1990, said he decided to stick with the show because Peggy's exit meant he could explore new ground with his character. In an interview with the TV Times, Steve confessed: "I thought it might be time to move on, with Barbara going, but then I realised it's a chance to do something different with Phil. "The umbilical cord will be cut. We've had Phil and Grant, then Phil and Peggy, but now he'll be on his own. "I've stayed with the show because they've kept it interesting." Barbara filmed her final scenes in the Walford serial on Friday after nearly 16 years as the feisty matriarch. Steve took a break from the soap between Christmas 2003 and April 2005, during which he just wanted to 'travel and eat curry and ice-cream'. After putting on weight during his time away, he has since got into shape with a strict daily regime of swimming a mile and cycling 10 miles. The actor has lost more weight for an upcoming storyline, which sees alcoholic Phil descend into crack cocaine. "I did it with a crash diet, which I wouldn't normally advocate. I felt it was important to lose weight, as I don't think food is very high on Phil's list of priorities," the 51-year-old told the magazine. McFadden admitted that such a hard-hitting storyline 'drains the life out of you', but added: "I can honestly say that this has been my most challenging and exciting year in EastEnders."
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Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix.
An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.