AS hapless Robbie Jackson, actor Dean Gaffney cemented himself as one of EastEnders’ best-loved stars.
But a string of boozed-up disasters and kiss-and-tell scandals behind the scenes forced BBC bosses to ditch him.
The final straw came when he begged a mum-of-two on Facebook to send him snaps of her boobs and bum after he wrote flirty texts to the 26-year-old dental nurse.
Breaking his silence today, Dean admits he thought the punishment was “harsh” at the time of his axing in October last year.
But a period of reflection has led him to fully support the decision — and hints that soap chiefs might give him a second chance.
Dean — who is said to have bedded more than 1,000 women and nicknamed his manhood “Well’Ard” after his dog on EastEnders — said: “During my time in the public eye there have been a lot of kiss-and-tells about me.
“I have a self-destruct button and people can’t understand why I press it. I have no idea why I pressed it.”
'I LIKE TO DO ROMANTIC TREASURE HUNTS'
“I think EastEnders just thought enough is enough — and I don’t blame them.
“They said to me, ‘You are either really bad at picking women or you need to sort it out. You need to go off and find out why you are doing these things’.
“They were saying they loved me and wanted me to come back and they wished it wasn’t happening — but it is happening and they need to deal with it.
“I took on board what they said and I 100 per cent respect their decision. I did think it was harsh, but then I understand they had to act on it.
“Some shows might not have an issue with it, but EastEnders don’t want to be seen to be allowing someone to speak to women in a derogatory way.”
Show bosses take a hard line against wayward stars, with Jessie Wallace suspended last month after reportedly boozing on set during the 35th anniversary filming.
But despite the incident on social media that prompted his sacking, Dean reckons he can be “a romantic guy” with women.
He says: “I like to do little treasure hunts where you may end up finding some Louboutins in the cupboard.”
And he insists the woman who he asked to give him explicit photos knew the score. He says: “She came to the conversation knowing exactly who I was. We had a conversation like normal people do which led to a fruity conversation.
“I thought she was completely into it with the replies she was giving, which led me to reply in the way I did.
“I didn’t just go in there like a Neanderthal asking for pictures.
“I went along with it and now it’s come back on me.
“This wasn’t a girl that was hard done by.
“It was not like she was brought to the table kicking and screaming.”
SOME OF THOSE KISS-AND-TELLS
Porn star Nicky, 36, had a fling with Dean in 1999 while his wife was at home looking after their two daughters.
Michelle, 24, was invited to an orgy at a hotel penthouse by Dean in 2003. “His hands were all over me like an octopus,” she said.
Hotel clerk Katie, 22, was left underwhelmed in 2003. “He’s only interested in satisfying himself,” she said. “Totally unimpressed with his manhood. It’s so small.”
Kate, 22, was one of the girls Dean persuaded into a five-in-a-bed romp in 2003, just after he’d left EastEnders. She said: “He used what fame he has left to get what he wanted.”
A well-known model, 27, ended up between the sheets with Dean in 2001. Bemoaning his spotty skin and holey underpants, she called him “terrible in bed” because he couldn’t last more than 30 seconds.
Alanna, 20, admitted she was shocked by his kinky nature when she slept with him in 2006. She said he asked to slap her face.
In 2007 prostitute Sarah revealed Dean met her though a porn website. After asking her to perform kinky acts, he then refused to pay.
Getting sacked was the second major blow in a year for 42-year-old Dean, who had also split with Rebekah Rose Ward, 25, his partner for three years. Rebekah said she was sick of feeling like “a trophy on his arm” — and Dean now admits he could have treated her better. He revealed: “I’ve suffered a real heartbreak. It was a very passionate relationship.
“But by the end we were just in this vicious cycle where I didn’t treat her right and she didn’t treat me right.
“Looking back, I was probably selfish. I should have put her first and had her back. I do regret that. I didn’t think she would walk away in the end but she did. I thought I would be able to win her back — but I couldn’t.
“I’m a strong believer in things happening for a reason.”
In his quest to find love again Dean has signed up to E4’s new series of Celebs Go Dating.
His 23-year-old twin daughters Chloe and Charlotte — whose mum is Dean’s childhood sweetheart Sarah Burge — are backing him to get his life back on track.
Dean says: “Sometimes in life you have to hold your hands up and admit what you’ve done wrong and own your s***.
“That’s my next journey. I need to acknowledge my own faults more, to work out why I do what I do. I need to find out more about myself.
“I have never had a problem with drugs but I haven’t always treated women the best.
“That upsets me because I have two daughters. I want to find out why I’ve done that.
“There has to be an intervention somewhere why you get to the root of the problem.
I haven’t talked about this on Celebs Go Dating because this is something I need to work out for myself off-camera.
“I have only just admitted it to myself, really.”
'I DON'T WANT TO BE FAMOUS'
In the meantime, he is nervous about people seeing the real him on the celebrity dating show.
The last time he appeared on screen as himself was 14 years ago in I’m A Celebrity . . . Get Me Out Of Here!.
Dean said: “This will be the most open I have been on TV and that is what scares me.
“TV is changing. The only reality telly I have done is the jungle.
“I have always said you do your big hitters, but celebrity w***ing a pig off on the farm is not where I want to be.
“I don’t want to do that. I don’t need to be on TV.
“I don’t want to be famous — I just want to carry on acting and doing my craft.
“Celebs Go Dating is kind of a cult show. I am not going on a coach trip or going on a farm. I think if you are going to do a show, do the right one.
“The life of an actor is hard. You are only as good as your last job.
“You have to keep your bank balance earning — and you have to feel fulfilled.
“There’s nothing worse than having too much time on your hands and being stuck at home watching daytime TV every day.”
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The Dean Gaffney story (including Gaffes)
1993 EASTENDERS From day one Dean is unforgettable as Robbie Jackson – largely down to his greasy, curly curtains. He is famous for his relationship with Albert Square’s most famous dog, Wellard, who he finds roaming Walford.
2003 PLOTLINE Dean has one of his biggest plots when he takes the virginity of Sarah Hills. Traumatised, she flees, leaving her dad assuming Robbie has forced himself on her. He puts Robbie in hospital.
2003 THE CLUB After leaving EastEnders, Dean is an unlikely choice for this reality TV show. He has to compete with Page 3 model Sam Fox and future Enders star Richard Blackwood to see which of them could run the best nightspot. Dean won – then ITV axes the show.
2006 I’M A CELEBRITY Dean is the jungle’s funniest contestant ever when he screams like a toddler in his Bushtucker Trial. By the time rats are crawling up his legs he is throwing up and swearing like a trooper. Ant & Dec watch in hysterics.
2007 EXTRAS Never afraid to mock himself, Dean has a cameo in a Christmas special of the Ricky Gervais/Stephen Merchant sitcom. He plays a Carphone Warehouse salesman – reuniting with former EastEnder Shaun Williamson to perform a groovy ringtone dance.
2008 GHOST HUNTING He is invited to take part in an I’m A Celeb special of the ITV show Ghosthunting With . . . Cue more ludicrous screaming as Dean is led through dark rooms with Christopher Biggins in an old hospital.
2012 BOND AMBITION The Sun reveals that he has applied to be an MI5 agent. He said: “I love the whole James Bond thing and I’ve got an inquiring mind. MI5 put out an ad and I thought: “How hard can it be?’ Spies pretend to be people they’re not. I do that for a living.”
2013 CAR CRASHES Not wearing a seatbelt, he drives into a central reservation and splits his head open, saying if the injury had been an inch higher he’d have been left brain-damaged. “It was a big wake-up call,” he adds. But he has two more crashes in four months.
2015 MARMITE ADVERT Taking the Mickey out of himself once more, Dean is a “neglected celeb” performing in empty working men’s clubs. He is like the spread . . . something you either love or hate.
2019 CALL ME GANDY Not content with being mocked for wanting to be Bond, he makes the mistake of revealing he had been mistaken for supermodel David Gandy.
He tells The Sun: “He’s kind of distinguished. The fact that people even think we remotely look alike, I’ll take that one definitely for the team.”