BY TOBY PORTER
Richard Blackwood has had already more careers than most of us muster in a lifetime.
He has a movie coming out soon, called Deus.
He will take part in Dancing on Ice from January so he’s training himself to skate – at Streatham Ice Rink, which is certainly home ground.
And he will also be starring as the Genie in a pantomime of Aladdin in the new year. So he is juggling three jobs even as you read this.
He has already developed a career in music and as a stand-up comic all over the last 20 years.
He also starred in EastEnders for three years – as the mysterious Vic Hubbard.
Mystery surrounds whether he will return – dead or not. But he’s not about to take a rest. This Tuesday, he will host the Streatham Business Awards at Hideaway Club in Streatham.
“I grew up in Streatham. The diverse range of shops and businesses in the area makes it really unique and it’s great to see the High Road thriving.
Supporting local business is really important and I’m delighted to be involved with the Streatham Business Awards this year.
I have always classed myself as Streatham. I am now in Colliers Wood but my mother still lives there.
I have done stuff for the people behind the Streatham business Awards before.
It’s not necessarily a comedy function but it’s local and it’s my people.”
The 46-year-old was brought up to believe in the virtues of hard work and keeping on the straight and narrow. “I got a degree to appease my family because I always wanted to go into entertainment,” he said.
“My parents always said no one can take an education away from you. Plus I always liked the idea of having a degree by my name.
“My mum and dad and my grandparents were all go-getters. They did not allow you to be lazy – you had to have a job and some type of structure.
They were teaching me how tough the world can be. I grew up in a time when most people were driven – the 1980s. “You only have one go at life and I believe in making the most of it.
“I do not judge anyone else by the standards I set myself – I understand my upbringing is not the same as everyone else is so my outlook isn’t going to be the same.
“But if I can inspire people even to try something different I’m down with that.
“EastEnders gave me a lot of opportunities. People who sign up for that seldom do you hear them complain – they know what they are letting themselves in for. They were very good to me. I definitely had a great relationship with them – I would never say anything bad about them.
It was a big moment in my life which changed for the better as a result.”
He had a son, Keaum, in 2001, but bankruptcy in 2003 hit him so hard, he attempted suicide. “At the time I was very angry,” he said.
“Sometimes, if it feels like it’s ongoing, you feel like you’re being picked on. You feel sorry for yourself and think ‘Woe is me’. You feel like it is never going to change – that there is no light in the darkness.
“If you survive, it is through learning to be comfortable in the darkness and I had to do that. That’s the hardest thing I ever had to face.
I had to find comfort in being able to breathe properly. It was almost like finding comfort in discomfort.
“A lot of people believe they can’t do it and that’s when you go into drugs or taking your own life – because you can’t see and end of the suffering.
“It was only afterwards, I thought properly about how it would have been, for the people I love, if I was not there.
When you are in it you feel like people don’t love you or don’t love you enough. Otherwise people with kids would never do that sort of thing.
It is when you start to get better that you think about how would they cope and then how selfish it would have been to do that – and the pain it would have caused my child.”
Blackwood managed to stay on the straight and narrow – but others suffer a different fate.
“I was very lucky growing up at a time where knife crime and things like that was more frowned upon,” he said. “If anything the people who wanted to make something of their lives were praised by the cool kids.
If the bad guys had a beef it was with somebody else doing what they did. But now there are evil people teaching kids to be bad. It’s like sending a child in to fight Mike Tyson just to get a sadistic pleasure out of them being hurt.
“There are young killers who seem to enjoy inflicting pain on others. It is nothing to do with poverty. It’s because they’re bad people. Even the Kray twins did not pick on innocent people.
“But that seems to be what is happening now. I believe in God. I used to go to church.
Now I live by the scriptures but I’m not one to impose that on anyone else.
But if it keeps people on the straight and narrow, it must be a good thing.”