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Dated: 21/07/10

EASTENDERS hardman Steve McFadden is preparing for his crack addiction storyline by gorging on ice cream and fizzy pop - claiming: "It's the food real addicts crave." Steve, 51, has taken to scoffing the sweet treats since finding out that his character Phil Mitchell is to become hooked on the Class A drug in a gritty summer storyline. He said that turning to the unusual diet was an attempt to get into the mind-set of an addict, insisting: "You do have to live it to some extent." Steve was explaining his own form of method acting - where performers try to capture the inner thoughts and emotions of their characters by behaving like them in real life. He said: "After my first day of shooting the crack story, I went and ate two ice creams and some fizzy drinks - you know, food that real addicts crave. Then I fell asleep in my dressing room for two hours." The shocking storyline will see Phil spiral into depression before turning to the drug. He is set to become a full-blown crackhead in the scenes. Soap chiefs have kept tight-lipped about a link with his on-screen mother Peggy Mitchell's departure from the soap. Hell Barbara Windsor, who plays the matriarch, is leaving the show after 16 years. And Peggy's exit is set to have a bearing on already-fragile Phil's state of mind. He has been through the hell of alcoholism and now things are going from bad to worse for the hardnut. He recently watched son Ben (Charlie Jones) locked away for five months after attacking Jordan Johnson (Michael-Joel David Stuart) with a spanner. And life will become even more complicated when his ex Lisa Fowler (Lucy Benjamin) turns up in Walford. A bitter stand-off between the pair will take place when Lisa tries to get custody of their daughter Louise. Steve admitted that shooting such demanding scenes takes its toll. He said: "I'm really tired and my eyes are sore - doing a storyline like this drains the life out of you." But after two decades on the BBC1 soap, the actor added that the past year has been his most challenging and exciting. And despite stuffing his face with ice cream and pop, he reckons he has actually shed pounds for the episodes. He told TV Times: "I've lost quite a bit of weight for this drugs storyline. I'm the slimmest I've been for ages. "I did it with a crash diet, which I normally wouldn't advocate. "I thought it was important to lose weight as I don't think food is very high on Phil's list of priorities!" Read more: EASTENDERS-hardman-Steve-McFadden-is-preparing-for-his-crack-addiction-storyline-by-gorging-on-ice-cream-and-fizzy-pop.