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Is hardman Ray Winstone bound for Albert Square? The Hollywood star is lined up to ‘replace Danny Dyer’ on Eastenders and could even become the landlord of the Queen Vic pub

He’s the East End actor who conquered Hollywood with his tough-guy image.

Now Ray Winstone could be heading back to his roots – with a role in TV’s Albert Square.

The Mail on Sunday has been told that he is being lined up to replace Danny Dyer as the hardman in EastEnders and it has even been speculated by some close to the BBC soap opera that he may become the landlord of the Queen Vic pub.

The character he would potentially play would be the patriarch of a family also featuring new characters.

Yesterday, sources at the BBC insisted that there were no plans for Winstone, 66, to appear. However, they have previously dampened such rumours about other big-name signings, only for them to be announced officially shortly afterwards.

Winstone, who starred in gangster movie Sexy Beast, almost joined EastEnders as long-running character Billy Mitchell’s brother back in 2008 but turned it down after accepting a role in Indiana Jones And The Crystal Skull. At the time soap bosses said they were desperate to get him on the show.

The actor later said: ‘That thing about turning up five times a week, these guys work really hard, it just ain’t for me. I wondered if I’d probably be the only one from the East End in the show.’

The London district of Bromley-by-Bow, where the fictional Albert Square is supposed to be located, is just two miles from Hackney Hospital where Winstone was born. He lived in Plaistow, in the East End, until he was seven, when the family moved to North London.

Winstone, who starred in gangster movie Sexy Beast (pictured), almost joined EastEnders as long-running character Billy Mitchell’s brother back in 2008 but turned it down after accepting a role in Indiana Jones And The Crystal Skull

Winstone, who starred in gangster movie Sexy Beast (pictured), almost joined EastEnders as long-running character Billy Mitchell’s brother back in 2008 but turned it down after accepting a role in Indiana Jones And The Crystal Skull

Last September, Winstone’s daughter Jaime, 37, won plaudits for portraying a young Peggy Mitchell in a flashback episode as she struggled to make ends meet in the 1970s.

Today, Winstone and his wife, Elaine, split their time between their five-bedroom home in Essex and a converted farmhouse near the Sicilian town of Cianciana.

In December, Dyer left EastEnders after nine years starring as Queen Vic landlord Mick Carter.

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In the Christmas Day episode, he appeared to die after jumping into the English Channel in an attempt to save his wife Linda, played by Kellie Bright.

Having made an instant impact in his big-screen breakthrough role in 1979’s Scum, Winstone has worked with Hollywood’s top directors, including Martin Scorsese in The Departed.

A spokeswoman for the BBC said there were no current plans for Winstone to join EastEnders.

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