EastEnders star ‘helped dad and brothers with burglaries’ at just four years old

Between Phil Mitchell and Dirty Den there's been plenty of crime shown on Eastenders, but there's one member of the cast who has been involved off screen.

Sid Owen was best known for playing Ricky Butcher on the long-running BBC soap opera. However, it turns out that his East End past might have hit a little closer to home. The actor is starring in a new factual Channel 4 series called Banged Up.

Seven star names have signed up to the series, which will see them put behind bars for seven days in a decommissioned Victorian prison, HMP Shrewsbury. But the actor has since made a startling confession about his life before fame.

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Sid, 51, lost his mum to cancer at the age of seven and was abandoned by his father at the age of six and has had no contact since. He lived with three older brothers and he says the quartet lived a life of petty crime.

The star first found his role in life, when he joined the cast of EastEnders in 1988 and he is convinced the soap saved him from a life of full-time crime, and even a prison sentence. "I grew up as a petty thief because I had three older brothers and there was violence, thieving, burglary, robberies. Without acting I would have definitely done a prison sentence. That was all I knew," he explained to The Sun.

"It was definitely an eye opener for me to see it from the other side and it was so sad to think what my family went through, coming to terms with being banged up for so many hours a day. It can send you a little bit crazy. It did feel very real and very scary."

The star also explained that the only reason they did not go without essentials when growing up, is because he and his brothers would rob for them. He admitted: "We grew up poor but then we didn't really want for anything because we used to nick it."

He helped his older brothers to commit burglaries from the age of only four-years-old, and he was used because he was small enough to sneak through tiny skylights. Two of his three siblings spiralled into a life of Crime.

His eldest brother Mark passed away in 2022, he said was "in and out of prison for theft". Another brother called Darren, who is aged 54-years-old, three years his senior was jailed for eight years in 2010. He was part of a ring that smuggled £1million of cocaine into the UK and the pair rarely speak.

His third brother has settled in Cornwall with his family and has managed to avoid the life of crime as he now works as a chef. Sid said how he tried to use his success to help his brothers live a more innocent life.

He explained: "My oldest brother, unfortunately, had a long drug history, I’ve tried to help both my brothers over the years but there’s only so far you can go. I was like the boring one who was always going ‘Why did you do it?'

"I even bought my brothers businesses 20 years ago to try and keep them on the straight and narrow. But I think you get the taste for that life. It's easy, quick money but as quick as you get it, the quicker it goes out. It's a vicious circle."

Sid added: "But Mark went down the drugs route and was in and out of prison. I can empathise with it because that's what people do to block things out. Deep down, he was hurting. He tried to take his own life at least 10 times. He never got over the death of my mum."

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