Travel: Passport Paul Bradley: EastEnders's chirpy Cockney sparrow admits he isn't even officially English

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The Independent Travel
Your papers, please

Date of Birth: 28/5/55

Place of Birth: Nuneaton

Occupation: Actor

THE CHIRPY Cockney sparrow from BBC's EastEnders series, Paul Bradley, admits that he isn't even officially English. Both his parents are Irish and so, too, is his passport. And Bradley's acting career has taken him far beyond the boundaries of Walford.

"In '86, I toured the Gulf States with the Regent's Park Theatre - now the New Shakespeare Company - performing A Midsummer Night's Dream", he says. "We visited Damascus in Syria, and the main souk with its beautiful mosaic tiling was fantastic. In fact, the whole city with its ancient buildings looked like something out of the Bible.

"When we got to Iraq, we expected Baghdad to be similar - with all its connotations of Arabian knights. But we were disappointed. It's a very modern city with skyscrapers everywhere.

"There was a huge shopping centre that was completely empty, and a can of Pepsi cost pounds 2.50 - that gives you an idea of the kind of prices the shops were charging."

His passport also bears the stamp of Jordan from the same tour.

"At midnight, some of us in the troop took a taxi to Petra, the rose- rock city, and arrived just before dawn. Huge, incredibly detailed architectural fronts have been carved into the sandstone mountains - with influences from Rome and Greece - and inside the caves the walls are multi-coloured geological strata - they look like those giant sand glasses that you find at seaside resorts. It was amazing."

There is one place in the world that Paul would probably only go back to with the likes of Grant and Phil Mitchell at his side.

"Seven years ago, I went to Alicante with my girlfriend Lynn, who was pregnant at the time with our first child," he recounts. "We were on the beach and two guys approached us. One of them started rabbiting on in Spanish which we couldn't understand. It was a couple of minutes before I realised he had his hand in Lynn's bag. I shouted at him and they walked off. But I saw them do the same thing to a couple further down the beach and went over there to alert them.

"The men slouched off, but on my way back to Lynn, they jumped me from behind. They kicked me to the ground, then made for my girlfriend. I was horrified, and cried out "Encenda! Encenda!", thinking it meant "pregnant" in Spanish. It seemed to do the trick and they scarpered, leaving her alone. I later found out that I'd been asking them if they had a light!"

Paul Bradley is playing in a 10-piece band, the Kippers, for a children's event at the Royal Festival Hall on Monday 16 February at 11.30am.

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