A FIREFIGHTER will be making an appearance in Albert Square after becoming the latest south Essex actor to bag a spot on hit soap Eastenders.

Gary Finan, 40, from Benfleet, is set to make his debut on the BBC soap tonight, playing the role of a burly bodyguard hired by hardman Phil Mitchell.

Show veteran Phil decides to start taking an interest in girlfriend Sharon Watts’ new cocktail bar – and employs security against her wishes.

Mr Finan, based at Rayleigh Weir fire station, has spent the past 16 years juggling tackling blazes with staring on stage, television and the big screen.

He has previously starred in ITV drama Ultimate Force and crime thriller the Real Essex Boys, based on the 1995 Rettendon murders.

Mr Finan said: “I’ve been acting since I was a lot younger, but it’s one of those occupations where you’ve got to have a back up. The firefighting is what I can rely on and what pays my bills.

“I see it as I’ve got the best of both worlds.

“It can be really hard because I’m always travelling and I can’t really book holidays because I never know what is going to come up, I have to use all my annual leave from the fire service for auditions or acting jobs.

“Some days I go straight from doing the night shift at the fire station to filming in London.”

Mr Finan, who is signed up to Leigh-based agent Cherry Parker Management, added: “I’m sure the guys at the fire station will make sure they get their hands on a television so we can watch it together.

I bet they’ve got something planned.

“My acting is a bit of a running joke with them!”