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Page last updated at 11:50 GMT, Wednesday, 10 December 2008
'Playing a paedophile was tough'

Chris Coghill
Chris Coghill who plays Tony King in EastEnders
EastEnders' Tony King was dragged off by the police after the truth finally came out that he'd been abusing Bianca's 15-year-old step daughter Whitney (Shona McGarty) on Tuesday night's episode.

Chris Coghill explains how tough the role was, how he was worried about what the public would think and the return of "Nasty" Nick Cotton.


Was it a tough decision taking on the role?

Yeah, there was a lot to consider.

Public reaction and the reaction of my family. And also career-wise you think, 'Do I want to be known as the paedophile?'

I'm an actor and it is acting. The whole idea that members of the public can't separate between what they see on television and reality is a little bit overblown. You have to give them a little bit more credit than they normally get.

I've had nothing but positive responses from people on the street. And it's a lot of people that recognise me with the amount of people who watch EastEnders.

The public response has been great and very supportive of the actual storyline as well, because it is a very important social issue. That's what EastEnders does, that's what soap operas do. They are commentators on social issues.

How did you prepare for this role?

We did a lot of research with the NSPCC looking at the profile of the character and the way these people operate and the way they manipulate, the way they groom not just the victim, but the entire family.

I read a lot of case studies but one thing I didn't really want to do was get bogged down in sexual abuse. It's the kind of thing you want to leave at work, rather than spend time at home thinking about.

It must have been great working with Patsy Palmer as well?

Patsy is a genius because I think there is a real art to acting in a soap not necessarily because of the material that is in the script but the way that you work is so intensive.

You often find yourself doing scenes from different episodes back to back and you're all over the place but Patsy has just got the ability to take any scene and any dialogue and just say it. She does it so naturally and so in character.

This week it has all come to a head. Have you been watching it at all?

Chris Coghill
Tony talks to Whitney at a party with mum Bianca
Yeah. I recorded it on Sky plus and watched it when I got back after playing football. But thinking back it is kind of hard to remember where one episode starts and finishes and what happens in the next one.

But I'm really pleased with it. As an actor though you are always really, really critical of yourself anyway when you look back at your work.

Nick Cotton (John Altman) is coming back too, isn't he?

Yeah. I know in my last week I saw him around in costume and make up and I was like, 'My God. It's nasty Nick. Brilliant'. He is one of those characters that are EastEnders.

It is great to have been part of something that is so iconic and is such a massive, massive show and is part of British television history.

What's next for you now?

I'm off to Aidensfield where The Royal is set in two weeks. I'm playing the anti-thesis of Tony. I'm playing a really nice ambulance driver called Bobby who rescues little old ladies.

It is the ideal situation for an actor to go from one major channel which gets such massive viewing figures to go into another show on another channel, again with huge viewing figures, with somebody completely different.

Any burning ambitions for the future?

Just to keep going working. As an actor that's what you want to keep doing. I could be Dr Who or the Mancunian James Bond you never know.

Chris Coghill was talking to Newsbeat entertainment reporter Sinead Garvan.

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