On Air Now
Heart's Feel Good Weekend with Lilah Parsons 10pm - 1am
24 November 2019, 10:16 | Updated: 25 November 2019, 10:26
I'm a Celeb star Cliff Parisi spent the first few nights of his life homeless and slept in an East London park after his family were evicted from their home.
Cliff, 59, was a newborn baby when his teenage parents, Irene and George, were told they had to leave their London East End house.
In a bizarre turn of events, the landlady came up with a plan to buy baby Cliff and his year-old sister in exchange for rent. His parents refused, and they lost their home as a consequence.
The family of four slept in Victoria Park in Hackney, before social services were alerted to what had happened - and the kids were then taken away from their parents.
Cliff explained: "When my mum came back from hospital with me, she wouldn’t give me or my sister up so the landlady threw us all out.”
"My parents came from big families but they were all cramped in one room.
"No one physically had the space for my parents or they would have taken them in.”
Both Cliff and his sister were taken into care, but he insisted his mum and dad refused to give up their children without a fight.
He said: "Mum and dad jumped on a bus with us but it was chased by a police car and stopped.
“Me and my sister were ripped from their arms and they were both left sobbing by the side of the road.”
The children were placed in a home in Reading, Berkshire, which was too far away for their cash-strapped parents to visit them, but the I'm a Celeb star Cliff and his sister were eventually returned to the couple.
He didn't find out the shocking family secret until he was in his 50s, and admits he was disturbed by the revelation.
Speaking in The Mirror, Cliff Parisi’s dad George Manley (82) said how proud he is of his son's achievements, “He’s done very well, he’s worked very hard. He’s a grandad now. I’m very proud of him and think he has done extremely well.”
On Cliff entering the jungle, George said,“I wouldn’t go in there so I think he is very brave to go in. I reckon they actually plan things to get you to be annoyed with someone else, but Cliff gets on with everybody.”
Cliff began his career as a stand-up comedian back in the 1980s, before embarking on an acting career and appeared in Chancer (1990) and Bramwell (1995-96) before landing the role of Minty in EastEnders in 2002.
He is also more recently known for playing Fred in Call the Midwife for the last 7 years.