EastEnders Colin Salmon says wifes illness inspired him to take George Knight role

Colin Salmon has opened up about the motivation behind joining Eastenders, revealing that he "can't be far from home" due to his wife's illness.

The actor, who married artist and illustrator Fiona Hawthorne in 1988, makes his soap debut next week as George Knight, a professional boxer who moves to Albert Square with his daughters to help his partner Elaine Peacock run the Vic.

Speaking to OK! at an EastEnders screening, Colin said his wife's health problems were a factor in taking on the soap role.

When asked what drew him to the soap, Colin said that it was showrunner Chris Clenshaw before adding: "My wife's not well so I can't be far from home and so the universe has brought something quite extraordinary and my agent said, I think you should talk to Chris.

"Chris was passionate, he was clear, he was progressive, had a vision, and a clear and clear love for the show. And the people who watch it. So I find that to be the requisite for any job. I just like to work with people who are passionate because we give 100% When we jump, we jump That's the rule. So to have somebody like guiding us. It's really important."

Colin's wife Fiona was diagnosed with interstitial lung disease — a rare lung condition — two years prior, leaving her dependent on an oxygen tank.

The artist was placed on steroids and received chemotherapy for the condition, which makes it difficult for oxygen to enter the bloodstream.

Speaking about the illness, Fiona told Hello at the time: "I'm finding ways to live with it positively. I don't want my illness to define me."

Colin, who is best known for his roles in the James Bond franchise, Bad Girls and Doctor Who, has been married to Fiona for 35 years, with the couple sharing four children together: Sasha, Rudi, Eden and Ben.

The actor also said that his East London roots also drew him to the soap as he was born near Clapton Pond. "I'm an EastEnder, it was a big show for us growing up and everybody I know I've told I'm doing this has got really really excited, and then some have said, 'Don't do EastEnders.'

"They don't know me. It's a no brainer. It works and the universe has been really kind and I'm loving it."

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