James Bond film series star Colin Salmon said he took on a role in EastEnders as he “can’t be far from home” because his wife is “not well”.
The British actor – best known for his role as MI6 deputy chief of staff Charles Robinson in three Bond films – will part of a new family arriving in Albert Square next month as father-of-two George Knight alongside Strictly Come Dancing finalist Molly Rainford.
When asked why he took on the role, Salmon said: “My wife’s not well, so I can’t be far from home…and the universe has brought (me) something quite extraordinary.
Salmon is married to artist and illustrator Fiona Hawthorne, who previously revealed to Hello! magazine how she was diagnosed with a rare lung condition, interstitial lung disease, leading her to use an oxygen tank.
He added: “(Executive producer) Chris (Clenshaw) was passionate, he was clear, he was progressive, he had a vision, and a clear love for the show and the people who watch it, so I find that to be the requisite for any job.”
Salmon also said that as someone from the East End of London, he understands the importance of the show.
He added: “Growing up and everybody I know, who I’ve told I’m doing this, has got really, really excited and then some have said: ‘How could you do EastEnders?’ They don’t know me. It’s a no brainer, it’s worked and the universe has been really kind.”
He also revealed he was assigned veteran soap actor Steve McFadden, who as the tough Phil Mitchell is set to strike up a friendship with him on the show, is taking on the role of his mentor in the production.
When asked about what advice the actor gave him, Salmon said he told him: “Just get it done.”
He added: “Steve comes on set and Steve’s ready. Steve’s there and he’s quietly the boss… and we had our phone call, I think the opening line is ‘You’re mad’, closely followed by ‘Get a bike’. Because (in) that way you can get in and out quite easily. My wife just went: ‘Is he mad?'”
Salmon also said that he was a “family man” along with McFadden and the other men on the show so “the conversations are just so refreshing, because it’s not that nonsense”.
His character, described by Clenshaw as a boxer with a lot of baggage who knows Phil, joins the square to be with his partner Elaine Peacock (Harriet Thorpe), who is the mother of Linda Carter.
Linda (Kellie Bright) has teamed up with her “larger-than-life” mother to run the Queen Victoria pub as Knight brings his two daughters Gina (Francesca Henry) and Anna (Nova Jones actress Rainford) to Walford.
Speaking about how her character feels about the new arrivals, Bright said: “Linda is very scarred by Janine so for her, everyone is the enemy and no one is to be trusted.
“Especially not this man, who as far as she’s concerned her mum does not know nearly well enough so she’s starting from that place, so there’s no openness.”
During the Christmas day episode, Mick Carter (Danny Dyer) appeared to be killed off in the English Channel in an attempt to save Linda after Janine Butcher’s (Charlie Brooks) web of lies unravel and she attempts to flee the country.
Elsewhere, Absolutely Fabulous star Thorpe said she wanted to “honour the women” who have gone before her that will not be “put out to pasture with a skirt and a blue rinse”.
She added: “I’m almost a 66-year-old woman who’s here and now and let me be more rock chick.”
The Knights will arrive in an EastEnders episode on BBC One on June 1.