I'm A Celebrity's Cliff Parisi reveals he was jailed aged 19

‘It’s hung over me like a black cloud:’ I’m A Celebrity’s Cliff Parisi, 59, reveals he was JAILED for a bank robbery at the age of 19

  • The actor rose to prominence in his 40s when he was cast as Minty Peterson in EastEnders
  • Cliff revealed he was jailed for 18 months for the crime, which he has never disclosed publicly  
  • The Call The Midwife star added that he was introduced to acting through a prison rehabilitation programme
  • After his release Cliff changed his surname for a fresh start, and has now put the ordeal behind him 

I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here star Cliff Parisi has revealed he was jailed at the age of 19 for a bank robbery.

The Call The Midwife star, 59, said that after a difficult upbringing he was sentenced to 18 months behind bars for the crime, but turned his life around after a rehabilitation programme introduced to acting.

Branding the crime a ‘massive mistake,’ Cliff also revealed that it is the first time he has spoken publicly about his imprisonment.

Shocking: I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here star Cliff Parisi has revealed he was jailed at the age of 19 for a bank robbery

Cliff – who was living in North London at the time – told The Mirror he was involved in a bank robbery along with several other gang members who were armed.

The star said he went ‘off the rails’ at a young age, and one of his accomplices received an even greater sentence.

Cliff went onto say he spent his imprisonment learning the read and write after spending his childhood in and out of care, and decided to become an actor through a prisoners rehabilitation programme.

Struggling: The actor spoke publicly about his prison stint for the first time, saying that he was sentenced to 18 months behind bars and branding it a ‘massive mistake’ (pictured 1988)

After his release he also changed his surname from Manley to Parisi to make a fresh start, and after years of work of stand-up comedian, he became a national star in the early 2000s thanks to his role as Minty Peterson in EastEnders.

He explained: ‘This has hung over me like a black cloud. It was a massive mistake that I made and I deeply regret it.

‘I am relieved that it is now out and I hope that people will find it in their hearts to forgive me.

‘No one regrets it more than I do. I also hope it inspires young men in jail not to give up hope. It is possible to get your life back on track again.’

Screen star: Cliff said that he decided to become an actor after working in a prison rehabilitation programme, and recently appeared in the I’m A Celebrity jungle 

Candid: The star said the crime has ‘hung over him like a huge black cloud,’ but he’s turned his life around after a difficult childhood saw him put into care (pictured in 1990)

A source who knew Cliff during his prison days also told the publication that he wouldn’t have even considered acting if it wasn’t for the prison programme, which saw him perform with young people in the community.

Cliff had a difficult childhood after he was put into care when his family were kicked out of their home in London’s East End, when their landlady created a scheme to ‘buy’ cliff and his sister, who was one at the time.

When his mum Irene and dad George refused, the family ended up sleeping in Victoria Park in Hackney. 

Acclaimed: Cliff has now found success as an actor, and rose to prominence in the 2000s as Minty Peterson in EastEnders

Social services stepped in and put Cliff and his sister in care, but they were eventually returned to their parents.

But since then Cliff has launched a successful acting career, and alongside his jungle stint – which saw him be the third star to be voted out – he has played handyman Fred Buckle on Call The Midwife since 2012. 

He is also married to BBC production assistant Tara Wyer and they have a son, three. Cliff also has three grown-up children from previous relationships. 

Mr and Mrs: He also married to BBC production Tara Wyer and they have a son, three. He also has three grown up children from previous relationships

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