Joe Swash’s near-fatal illness that led to EastEnders axe and double bankruptcy

Joe Swash became a household name after landing the role of happy go lucky Micky Miller in EastEnders.

The 40-year-old revealed he was ready to give up on acting before he secured the role of a lifetime on the BBC soap in 2003.

While Micky was meant be a recurring character, the loveable rogue was such a hit with fans that he eventually became a main character, with Joe playing the role until 2008.

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The TV presenter was gutted when BBC bosses revealed he was being axed from the soap, confessing they'd "run out of steam" for his character on the square.

This severe blow came after a dark time in Joe's life, following his battle with a life-threatening illness a few years prior.

In 2005, the actor was struck down with a devastating brain bug which left him fighting for his life.

The then 23-year-old was shed to hospital after being unable to talk or stand without being sick, leading doctors to discover that he had meningitis and encephalitis which led to swelling on the brain.

The actor spent two weeks in intensive care, while his family were informed to prepare for the worst possible outcome.

Thankfully, Joe managed to recover and was allowed home after six weeks in hospital.

But it wasn't that simple as the presenter was forced to take three months of unpaid leave from EastEnders while he underwent physio to help him learn to move and talk again.

In February 2008, it was announced that Joe and his on-screen step father David Sphinx were both being written out of the soap and the soon to be dad-of-four believes his illness had a huge impact on this decision.

He previously told The Sun: "My illness had a massive impact on the job. When I came back I couldn’t find my feet. New producers came in and brought in new actors and I got lost down the pecking order."

Despite being crowned champion of I'm a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! the same year, things only got worse for the actor as he was forced to declare himself bankrupt just months after his victory.

"I fell behind on tax and bills and buried my head in the sand, which was the worst thing to do. I should have faced up to it," he told the publication.

Things started looking up for Joe when he was cast as co-host of the I'm A Celeb spin-off show Get Me Out of Here, Now! alongside Caroline Flack and later Laura Whitmore.

However, Joe went bankrupt for a second time four years later.

Discussing his bankruptcy further, Joe continued: "The second time it happened when I was on TV and I felt embarrassed and wondered how I managed to get myself into that situation. But it can happen to anybody."

He added: "I was chucking it away on stuff I didn't need. I went out every night and had a house with a mortgage.

"When you are young you just don't think it is ever going to end. I thought I was going to be on EastEnders for years and years."

But Joe has since completely turned his life around and couldn't be happier with wife Stacey Solomon and their growing family.

The beloved TV duo, who have been together since 2016, tied the knot last year in a lavish ceremony held at their family home, nicknamed Pickle Cottage.

The couple are parents to Rex, three, Rose, one and recently announced their family is expanding, with Stacey expected to give birth at the end of this month.

The X Factor star also has sons Zachary, 14, and Leighton, 10, from two previous relationships while Joe shares 15-year-old son Harry with his ex-fiancée Emma Sophocleous.

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