Soap star Cliff Parisi has revealed his past shame as a bank robber when he was 19 and said he “I deeply regret it”.
The I’m A Celeb campmate, who was living in North London at the time, was sentenced to 18 months behind bars in 1979 over his role in the raid.
Some of the gang were understood to have been armed and one member was slapped with a significant sentence.
But, during his imprisonment Cliff, 59, sorted himself out by teaching himself much-needed skills that he didn’t have on the outside.
The star – who gained fame as Minty on EastEnders – told Mirror Online: “At the age of 19, I went off the rails and got involved with a bank robbery and I was jailed for 18 months. During my incarceration my time learning how to read and write properly.
“And after my release, I pursue my acting career with vigour and have been lucky enough to work professionally in acting over 30 years.
“This has hung over me like a black cloud. It was a massive mistake that I made and deeply regret it. I am relieved that it is now out and I hope that people will find it in their hearts to forgive me.”
The star added: “No one regrets it more than I do. I also it inspires young men in jail not to give up hope. It is possible to get your life back on track again.”
Cliff was raised in Crouch End and ended up in care following a horrific start in life that started after his parents Irene and George were booted from their home in London’s East End when he was only a few months old.
They lost their home after the landlady schemed to “buy” Cliff and his one-year-old sister in exchange for rent.
Later, the children were taken into care but were eventually returned to the family.
It was during his teenage years that Cliff fell in with a dodgy crowd that resulted in the bank robbery.
Call the Midwife star Cliff had never revealed his dark past until now.
During his time in jail, Cliff joined a rehab programme that had him performing with young people in the community.
After his release, Cliff changed his surname from Manley to Parisi in a bid to have a fresh start.
He went on to perform stand-up routines before landing acting jobs in Chancer and Kavanagh QC.
But, in 2002 he bagged one of his best-known jobs as the EastEnders soft-hearted mechanic.