Perry Fenwick, an EastEnders icon, has claimed that he almost died twice as a youngster!
Speaking to Kathy Burke on her podcast Where There’s A Will, There’s A Wake, Billy Mitchell revealed terrifying – literally in one instance – anecdotes of the times he almost died.
‘I suppose I spent quite a lot of that time in hospital from the age of one to 10,’ Perry said.
‘When I was three, I electrocuted myself. I was playing with a basin of soapy water on the rug when I had the idea of dipping my three fingers in the water and inserting them into the plug hole in the wall.
‘At this moment, my mother is watching television and is aware of this ‘thing’ moving across the room to the opposite side. My palms were apparently black for almost six months following that.’
As if that wasn’t dramatic enough, the actor went on to describe a time when he jumped from a bridge, terrifying his buddies.
‘I tripped and fell off a bridge. We used to have an iron bridge near my house, and you had to execute this dare where you stepped over the bridge’s arch. I wobbled, fell off, and it was maybe twenty-five to thirty feet away.
‘There was a tiny creek flowing below it with these mud banks next to it, and happily for me, someone had gotten into DIY early by removing some of the railway sleepers, because if I had hit one of them, that would have been it, since this was in the 1960s.
‘I fell all the way through and landed on the mud bank, which was so soft that I actually went squelch.’
After being challenged to undertake the perilous crossing, young Perry decided to have some fun by pulling his own stunt on his friends.
‘So, then I could hear the kids who had challenged me, my friends, and this little lady I admired at the time; I was only about ten or eleven at the time. Guess what I did in that instant while laying there? I pretended to be dead.
‘Even at that age, the performer in me wanted to see what others thought of me,’ she says.
‘So I remained there, and I could hear them all saying, “He’s not moving, call the cops, no, we’re not going to call the cops, we’ll have to go to jail.”
‘I could hear them moving closer and closer, but only so far, and I’m waiting for the female to say anything. “Is he dead?” someone said, and I thought to myself, “come on, one of you say something nice, at least be concerned!”
‘Then the girl I truly liked simply said, “Throw a stone at him.” So, I’m laying there waiting for this girl’s life-changing kiss, and the next thing I know, I’ve got a stone in the back of my skull!’
Perry has been an EastEnders mainstay throughout his tenure as Billy Mitchell, yet he reveals that he nearly gave up acting completely, instead deciding to obtain ‘the expertise’ necessary to become a black taxi driver.
‘I was on the verge of giving up acting because, like you mentioned, I had done a lot of stuff and then it simply dried up. ‘I was going to begin ‘the knowing,’ he said to Kathy.
‘I simply thought, “Well, I’m good at learning lines, so learning the knowledge might be the way forward,” but then they called the agent and said, “Oh, I could do with that now.”
Perry was recently embroiled in a devastating and ‘punishing’ plot in which Billy lost granddaughter Lola Pearce (Danielle Harold) to a brain tumor after 25 years on Albert Square.
‘She began the show as not a tiny child, Danielle Harold, gorgeous, great gifted Danielle Harold, but she was young,’ Perry added.
‘I don’t have any children, and she’s been like a daughter to me. So, when we realized this tale was going to unfold, there was this thing going on where my character Billy was losing his grandchild and Perry was losing his daughter, and it became more difficult for Kath.
‘You’d go in every day and look over the writing, and it was absolutely punishing.’
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