EASTENDERS TV Gangster Steve McFadden is a close friend of a gang of real villains.
McFadden 38 who plays hardman Phil Mitchell regularly drinks with former EastEnd mobsters Freddie Forman, Dave Courtney and Tony Lambrianou.
Viewers know Phil as the self-styled Godfather of Albert Square, but will be shocked to know that he rubs shoulders with criminals away from the EastEnd set. Yesterday McFadden said, "I don't want to talk about this it's not the sort of thing you discuss. I'm mate's with all of them, thatÕs no secret. Dave is a good friend.
The criminal CV's of his friends are frightening reading.
Dave Courtney, 40, is the Mr Big of the London nightclub bouncer scene and he also provided the security at Ronnie Kray's funeral two years ago. Courtney has convictions for violence and spent three years behind bars for attacking five Chinese waiters with a meat cleaver in 1980.
In 1997 he was chared of drug dealing charges. He told the court "I beat people up. I have buried a few people, but I don't sell drugs.
Freddie Forman, 65, served ten years for disposing of the body of Kray murder victim Jack The Hat McVitie in 1969. He was cleared of the 1966 killing of Frank "Mad Axeman" Mitchell and Ginger Marks.
In1997 he was released after serving nine years for handling cash in the £7 million Security Express raid in 1983.
Tony Lambrianou, now 55, was also a member of the Kray gang. He was sentence to life for his part in the killing of McVitie in 1969. He was freed in 1984 and revealed he had burned bits of the body to dispose of the evidence.
McFadden is no stranger to crime himself with convictions for assault, burglary and possessing cannabis. And he is a regular at the villain's favourite pub 'The Albion' in Woolwich, South London, which Courtney recently took over.
A friend of McFadden's said: "He has been friend's with Dave for years and they drink together all the time. Steve knows Tony Lambrianou, Freddie Forman and others. He got to know all of them through his old man who knew Ronnie and Reggie Kray". When Courtney threw a huge party at The Albion, guest included Steve, boxer Nigel Benn, Bill star Bill Murray. Former gladiator Shadow and shower jumper Oliver Skeete.
Steve even picked up tips on how to play his screen villain as he mixed with members of the criminal fraternity.
Courtney said "Steve got the red carpet treatment from the chaps because they love him to bits.
"He picked up lines, phrases, walks and moves which make his part all the more believable.
"I met most of them from EastEnders and he is the most like of his character in real life, a man's man.
"If he wasn't I wouldn't have him down here with the lads. He is loved and trusted.
"It (The party) was a big gangster event with all the old ones and all the new ones. Top gangsters even flew in from all around the world.
Courtney added, "I know Steve very, very well. I am often mistaken for his minder but he does not need one.
HE IS ONE OF THE LADS