HE may be only 43 but actor Dean Gaffney is delighted at becoming a grandad, joking: “I’ll be one of the best-looking grandpas in town.”
In his first interview since his daughter Chloe, 24, gave birth to daughter Mimi, the ex-EastEnder tells how he is looking forward to passing on his pearls of wisdom — but will steer clear of changing nappies.
The Walford favourite, who played Robbie Jackson on and off for 26 years, said: “Anybody who saw me doing the Bushtucker trials on I’m A Celebrity knows I have the world’s worst gag reflex, so unless I’ve got a peg on my nose I’ll be leaving that to her mum and dad.”
Speaking to The Sun on Sunday, Dean added: “I’m so proud. Lots of my mates are becoming dads, but I’m a grandad at the same age.
“The only person I know who’s in the same boat as me is Danny Dyer, who has a grandchild at 43. I’ll be calling him for tips. We could do grandaddy day care together.’”
“I’m hoping people will see me pushing a pram in the street and go, ‘Oh, is that your child?’
“Because although I’ve got grey hair, I don’t think I look like a grandad just yet.”
Dad-of-two Dean revealed the news that Chloe and her partner Declan had become parents last week.
Posting a picture of himself cradling the baby, he wrote: “Welcome to this crazy world, my beautiful granddaughter Mimi. I can’t believe my baby is now a mother, proud is an understatement.
“Chloe and Declan — you’re going to be amazing parents.”
Dean told The Sun on Sunday: “I’m very blessed that I have a great relationship with my daughters. We try to go out once a week. They both drink and we sometimes do shots.
“On one night Chloe just said, ‘I’m sticking to water — why do you think that is?’. And then I just knew.
“I tried to lighten the load by joking and saying, ‘You’ve had sex!’ And she just said, ‘Aw, Dad’.
“I sat back and asked all the questions like, ‘Are you financially OK?’. But it is clear she is ready to be a mum.
“She’s 24 but I still think of her as my baby girl. But I’m so happy.
“Being a grandad at this age is great. I’ve done my living. Me and my ex Sarah are both pleased that we have done a good job and the girls have turned out great.”
But Dean admitted that while he is looking forward to chipping in with childcare, there are some things he is less excited about.
‘I’M NOT A BIG DRINKER OR INTO DRUG’
He said: “When I was changing my own kids’ nappies I would get it wrong on purpose so my partner would come in and say, ‘You’re doing it wrong’, and I’d think, ‘Yes, my plan worked’. But I’m looking forward to passing on my pearls of wisdom.”
Dean was just 18 and at the height of his EastEnders fame when he had twins Chloe and Charlotte with ex-partner Sarah Burge.
He said: “I had my girls when I was on the biggest show in the country, being watched by 20million a night.
“Maybe I wasn’t in the best headspace to have kids. People were falling at my feet, I was going out a lot and then I was a dad to twins.
“There is a perception of Dean Gaffney. I’m sure the average man still thinks I fall in and out of clubs every night. But it couldn’t be further from the truth. I like going out just as much as the next person. I’m a social butterfly.
“But I’m not a big drinker or into drug abuse. I’ve never taken a drug in my life. I’m very anti-smoking and anti-drugs.
“I’m sure people think I was not a present father but the truth is I woke up in the same house as my daughters until they were 19 years old — until their mum and I split.
“We had our ups and downs like most couples but for the most part I was a very hands-on dad. I’ll be the same as a grandad.”
Dean was written out of EastEnders in October 2019 after he had messaged a woman online asking her for racy snaps. He has since visited a counsellor to work out why he sometimes “presses the self-destruct button”.
He said: “I hold my hands up, I messed up. I probably brought the show into disrepute. One thing I do admire is that they did it right, it was a nice conversation.
"It wasn’t, ‘Pack your bag, you’re gone’. What was nice, and I had a bit of a tear in my eye, is they said, ‘We actually love you here, we do love the character, we love Dean Gaffney, but our hands are forced at the moment.
"There is a story out there and it’s not necessarily favourable for us as a show and you’ve just got to sort your head out. We want you back’.
“I love the show and what it stands for. I love my character Robbie, I love the way they write it for me.
'I MISS GOING INTO WORK'
“It’s a family unit and to go to one place of work, I miss that.
“It’s a bit like being a Premier League footballer when they retire. It’s the camaraderie in the changing room.
“I miss going into work. It’s a huge family. And I’d love to go back.”
Talking about seeking help after his dismissal, Dean, who is single, added: “If your car needs a service, you take it to the garage. If your brain needs a service, you’ve got to go to speak to someone.
"Obviously there are reasons that everyone does things so it’s just discovering why I have this self-destruct button and why I keep wanting to press it.”
Dean is currently in talks with TV companies about his latest project, a film called Pearl And Dean. In it, he plays himself and falls in love with a transgender girl called Pearl.
Away from the screen, Dean loves working out almost daily with pal Michael Greco, who played Beppe di Marco in the soap, and recently tried his hand at cooking.
He said: “I enrolled in a cooking class. The Italian chef kept shouting at me in Italian. I felt love from him and I thought he liked me.
“But it turned out he was swearing at me. They asked me not to come back. Turns out I could burn water.”
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