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31 July 2014
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Family Business - Jamie Foreman is Marky Brooker


Jamie Foreman is Marky BrookerDespite playing an East End boy, Jamie Foreman is a south Londoner, through and through.


"I'm from Bermondsey and the Castle [Elephant and Castle]," he says. "My parents had a pub there, but people always mistake me for an East Ender."


He lives with his partner, Julie Dennis, a former model he originally met over 15 years ago, although it wasn't until much later that they got together.


"I took Julie out years ago when she was about 20 and didn't see her again for ages. We went our separate ways, but bumped into each other again a few years back, and that was that!


"I'm very lucky that I'm with the right person now, after all this time. Fate has been good to me - I'm very fortunate, 'cos I've kissed a lot of frogs!"


But kissing was nearly out of the question for Jamie following various childhood scrapes - including being impaled on a metal spike at a World War II bombsite and splitting his lip.


"I knocked all my teeth into the back of my head. I was only young but luckily our old family doctor knew a top American plastic surgeon that was in town and he rebuilt it all."


Family is immensely important to Jamie, having seen his father, Freddie, sentenced to imprisonment at an early age.


"When I was 16 and at stage school I remember sitting listening to all the people around me talking about their lives and experiences: their mothers hated them; their parents had broken up; their boyfriend dumped them... and my father was doing a ten year sentence! I felt like I was 30 when I was just a kid."


Despite having to grow up quickly, Jamie's memories of that time have not faded and he remains fiercely loyal and proud of his roots.


"At the end of the day your family is your family, you go through bust ups and differences but they are still family, and I love them."


His love of theatre began when he went to see old family friend, Barbara Windsor, on stage for a matinee performance.


"After the performance, Barbara wanted to organise a car to take me home but I said I wanted to stay for the evening show and she just turned to me and said, 'You'll do!' and that was that."


In Family Business Jamie plays Marky Brooker, an idealist who wants the perfect life.


It initially looks as if he's succeeded too: the business - Brooker & Sons - is doing well and he's finally got his dream house.


Yet things are about to go drastically wrong for Marky: on the day of the move, his son James disappears and nobody has the slightest idea where he is.


Instead of dealing with issues in his own family, Marky immerses himself in the lives of the people he encounters while at work, because their problems appear easier to solve than his own.


"He doesn't seem to have the slightest comprehension of what is going on around him," says Jamie.


"He's on this sort of personal crusade and doesn't realise the effect it has on the people closest to him. Ultimately what he is trying to do is something very rewarding. I get frustrated with him and think, 'Marky, please. Easy! Relax!'


"People have to live their lives and go through their own pains and emotional dramas because that's where you gain experience. You learn from your own successes and failures.


"Ultimately, Marky is a very gentle, loving man. He should be in the priesthood or something - he's a suburban Mother Theresa in builder's clothes!"


It transpires that Marky is not the natural son of Arthur and Iris Brooker. He was adopted by them when they didn't think they could have children of their own.


Soon after his adoption, however, Iris gave birth to Rachel and now Marky feels he has something to prove to Arthur and Iris.


He knows his parents love him dearly but he resents his sister and her flippant attitude to life - not to mention the influence she has on his daughter Lauren.


"Marky suffers fools gladly and he is a sucker for trying to make the world a happier place. I think the fact that he is adopted means he feels fortunate and lucky to be taken on by these two wonderful people, Arthur and Iris, and he tries to project that onto everyone around him," he says.


Without a doubt Marky loves his wife Jessica, played by Elizabeth Berrington.


"He is a one woman guy and that's it for him. But his world is rocked when he thinks his wife is having an affair," he says.


"He knows she loves him but suddenly everything in his perfect world just appears to crumble and he can't believe it is all going so very wrong for him.


"First his son goes missing, his daughter is having identity problems and now his wife appears to be having an affair. No wonder he thinks he's going mad!"


In reality Jamie has a strong relationship with his son, Alfie, from his first marriage to former EastEnders actor Carol Harrison.


"I like to give him the wealth of my experience. As a parent there are so many times you think they aren't listening to you - but they are.


"I try to talk to him as a mate and if I have admonished him about anything I always say, 'That's it said - take it on board - and let's move on'. I have at least said my piece, and he does listen."


Jamie shares the great sense of tradition and family love with his alter ego Marky - a sense of wanting everything to be perfect.


And as a dad, he completely understands why Marky is distraught when his son disappears.


"It would devastate me if my son went away. It would kill me. You know when people say they would die for their kids - well, I hope that I would be courageous enough to feel I could do that if I had to."


If he hadn't fallen in love with acting Jamie may well have been a boxer.


"My father was a boxer and a trainer at the Peacock Gym in Canning Town before he owned his own gym.


"He put a lot of talented athletes through his place - British champions and gold medallists - and he was a very good boxer himself," he says.


Jamie's film and television career has gone from strength to strength with such distinguished credits such as Nil By Mouth, Elizabeth, Saving Grace, Gangster No 1, Out Of Control, Family and High Stakes.


"I've been really busy this year and I'm looking forward to some time off to relax," he says.


"I just want to keep working - a month off to chill after a long shoot is enough - your brain is a muscle and it can get tired and then at 45 I am not as young as I used to be…!


"I've got two films - I'll Sleep When I'm Dead and Football Factory - both coming out this spring, but it takes its toll on you and I am not the fittest man in the world - I smoke and have a drink and try to live life to the full if I can. Does it show? Nah!"


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