Famous for a Documentary He Was in at 7, Real-Life
Cabbie Played One in EastEnders
LONDON—Inquisitive Walford Gazette reader Suzanne
Morine recently stumbled upon an interesting piece of
EastEnders trivia while surfing the Internet.
According to IMDB.com (Internet Movie database),
the English actor Tony Walker is the same person who
played the precocious 7-year-old in Granada
Television’s Up documentary, in which filmmaker
Michael Apted (director of the last James Bond movie)
every seven years goes back to interview a group of
people who were first filmed in 1964 when they were
The latest edition, 42Up, was released on DVD two
years ago and in fact reviewed in the Walford Gazette
in issue No. 36, page 12.
Wrote Larry Jaffee: “Especially endearing to
EastEnders fans, no doubt, will be ‘Tony’ who starts
out a 7-year-old rascal, who by 14 is dreaming of
being a horse jockey, and by the time of his earning
years ends up a taxicab owner.”
Last names are not revealed in the documentary
series, but as it turns out “Tony” is the same Tony
Walker who played a taxi driver on the 26 April 2002
episode of EastEnders.
The companion book to 42Up leads off with Tony,
and provides an excerpted transcript of his interviews
throughout the years. He has plenty to say about
living in the East End.
“The poverty was there,” says Tony, recalling his
childhood in London’s East End, “but I never knew what
it was. I would honestly say I had more than other
kids. You know why? Because I had adventure.”
At 21, he was asked what he liked about living in
the East End, he responded:
“There’s nothing false, only the police [laughs].
I’m firmly placed and there’s no way I can get out. I
wouldn’t want to get out really. It’s very hard to
make it in the East End. I’ve got my roots firmly
stuck in the ground and I’d have a big hard pull to
get ’em out.”
At 28, he was working as taxi driver in London
and taking acting lessons, as well as being married
with two children. “I love being a taxi driver. I like
the outdoor life, the independence. There’s no one to
Tony tells of picking up passengers “Kojak”
(presumably Telly Savalas) and also Warren Mitchell
(the actor who played Alf Garnett in the U.K.
television series ’Til Death Do Us Part, which
inspired the U.S. version All in the Family).
EastEnders fans might know that our Gretchen
Franklin (Ethel) played opposite Mitchell in ’Til
Death Do Us Part in the pilot, but she turned down the
series for a theatre part, she once told the Walford
When asked by Apted what he liked about acting,
“I think to myself, I can do that. I sort of want to
have a go at it. I mean, nothing for fame and fortune
or anything like that. Big Hollywood and bright
lights. It’s nothing like that, it’s just a sideline.
I’ve been a film extra for six years and it may not go
further; I mean I’m just having acting lessons.”
He cites making appearances in the police series
The Sweeney and a Masterpiece Theatre mini-series
about Winston Churchill.
By 35, Tony and his wife Debbie were working as
cab drivers, they had added another child and tried
opening a pub. His mother had recently died.
“With respect to Debbie, she (Tony’s mum) was and
is still the best girl in the world. I’m sorry but
East Enders, they’re close to their mums.”
At 42, he lamented how the East End was changing.
“It’s very cosmopolitan now, Bethnal Green in the
East End. The mash shops and fish-and-chip shops are
closin’ down, and for me it’s quite sad. I mean
Hackney Wick was my hunting ground. It’s where it all
happened to me.”
That’s a real East Ender!
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