Icon - Todd Carty

East-End Veg Man

Todd Carty has always been cool. Okay, so he's played miserable fruit and veg seller Mark Fowler for the last 12 years in BBC1's East Enders, but in most of the characters he's played on our TV screens he's ridden a bike. Oh, and go back to 1978 and he was the legendary Tucker Jenkins in Grange Hill. Todd was 13 when he landed the role, battling the likes of arch-rivals Trisha Yates and PE teacher 'Bullet' Baxter. He was cool in a time before us thirty-somethings had even seen degenerative druggie drop-out 'just say no' Zammo.

So popular was Tucker, that when he and his cronies 'left' Grange Hill, writer/producer Phil Redmond had to write a spin-off series - Tucker's Luck. The show ran from 1983 to 1985 and focussed on Tucker and Co's exploits with both the Job Centre and the birds. After a time on the rock 'n' roll, he was soon whizzing around on a Honda CX500, working as a despatch rider. In one episode he bumped into his former nemesis Trisha and - would you Adam and Eve it - they fell in love... With Trisha, Tucker and the Plastic Maggot behind him, Todd disappeared from our screens, but then in 1990 that he came back to our attention as Mark Fowler, in East Enders, replacing actor David Scarboro, who sadly committed suicide.

He rode into Albert Square on a Honda Superdream, but unfortunately storylines were dominated by how Mark handled HIV - which he contracted from wife Jill - rather than a tricky head-gasket job on the 'Dream. His up-and-down on-screen love-life was reflected in his taste for motorcycles. Come the mid-1990s and he'd ditched the Superdream in favour of a Yam TDM850, which he bought by borrowing money from hatchet-faced harridan-mother Pauline. You could tell when Mark was getting a new bike as his life in the Square would take a turn for the worse. What would follow is that he'd empty his building society account, buy a bike and bugger off for a two-month break  -  probably in time to do Widow Twanky in panto at the Margate Winter Gardens. At one stage he got all sporty and purchased another Yam - this time an R6. He even managed to get pilchard-brained Ricky Butcher involved in speedway. In real life, Todd's been seen at a number of race meetings, so he can't be a bad bloke after all.

Todd - now 38 - finally got the chop from East Enders two months ago, where he saddled up once more (this time on an old Brit knocker...) before riding into the sunset. Before leaving the soap, Carty returned to Grange Hill for a one-off performance playing Tucker - now an uncle to current pupil, Patrick 'Togger' Johnson due to be screened early next year. "I was  chuffed and delighted to say hello to my old mate Tucker Jenkins in the new series of Grange Hill," said Carty. "And it was tough to get Mark to  hang up his leather jacket for the last time, as I'll miss everyone on the set of East Enders. I'm looking forward to trying new things, seeing a little more of my children and finally setting a date for my wedding to Dina next year." Ah... bless. Bloody luvvies, eh? Whatever he does, don't rule out hearing the sound of a back-firing Superdream echoing around Albert Square again - he may just come back...