Jamie Foreman - growing up on the run

ACTOR Jamie Foreman may have spent more of his childhood in east London if his gangster dad Freddie hadn t always been on his toes , writes MATT TROLLOPE. In the 1960s there were family houses in both Cable Street, off Whitechapel Road, and Victoria Park

ACTOR Jamie Foreman may have spent more of his childhood in east London if his gangster dad Freddie hadn't "always been on his toes", writes MATT TROLLOPE.

In the 1960s there were family houses in both Cable Street, off Whitechapel Road, and Victoria Park Road in Hackney, but the Foremans never hung around one place for long.

I caught up with Jamie recently and he told me: "We moved about the East End loads when I was a kid and then settled in Kennington, south London, when I was six."

The full details of his colourful childhood, much of which his father spent in prison in Leicester, can be found in Jamie's autobiography, aptly titled On The Run, a signed copy of which we are giving away.


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We hear how Jamie was brought up to be a "straight-goer" and packed off to boarding school to shield him from any trouble.

His love for his father is unreserved and unashamed, and Jamie is quick to explain in the book that "Dad was simply the best dad he could be. As a child, I felt such warmth and love that, when my parents told me I had a place at boarding school, I trusted that it was the right move. And, as always, my trust in them wasn't misplaced."

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In 1969 when Jamie was 11, Foreman Snr was convicted of disposing of the body of Jack "The Hat" McVitie, one of the murders which saw The Kray twins jailed for life. He was sentenced to 10 years and Jamie says his life "was turned upside down".

"Visiting him in prison and leaving him behind each time was heartbreaking, just awful. I felt disloyal and helpless."

Somehow, though, Jamie managed to find a focus and during one prison visit revealed to his dad that he wanted to go to acting school.

In the book, Jamie explains: "There was a pause, dad looked down and licked his lips, and for a second I wondered what he was thinking.

"'Now this is what you do,' said dad looking at mum. 'Go to Ronnie Knight and get a message to Barbara. Tell Ronnie what Jamie wants to do and see if there's anything she can do for him'."

Barbara was then Carry On belle Barbara Windsor and although it's not fair to say the rest is history, 15-year-old Jamie was definitely on his way.

"It felt like Barbara had done so much to set me on the right path. But she told me: 'If you want it bad enough, you've got to go out and get it. There's no substitute for hard work, self-belief'."

Jamie secured a place at London's famous Italia Conti stage school when he was 15, and theatre and TV roles soon followed, most notably Our Show, the ITV Saturday morning show, which replaced Tiswas between 1976 - 1978, and which an 18-year-old Jamie starred with a nine-year-old Susan Tully (EastEnders' Michelle Fowler).

And he hasn't stopped working since. Best known for his film roles alongside Ray Winstone in Nil By Mouth, and Daniel Craig in Layer Cake (as Duke), and in Roman Polanski's Oliver Twist (as Bill Sikes), he also appeared in Elizabeth Gangster No 1, Sleepy Hollow and The Football Factory.

He's just finished filming a thriller being filmed at Three Mills Studios in Bow and is shooting a film, Iron Clad, about the defence of Rochester Castle.

These days, home is Beckenham in Kent, and Jamie jokes: "It's where us south Londoners aspire to ending up, like you east Londoners all want to end up in Chigwell."

And it's where he's plotting his finest piece, the film about dad Freddie, which he will direct. "We'll be filming all over south and east London and I can't wait", he adds.

We've got a signed copy of Jamie's new book to give away. To be in with a chance of winning, send your name and address to Jamie Foreman Competition, c/o Lindsay Jones, Media House, 539 High Road, Ilford IG1 1UD. Closing date, 9am, November 12.

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