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Should we open an office in the London Borough of Walford? It’s probably about 12 years or so since the BBC soap Eastenders ran a story-line in which would-be catering magnate, Ian Beale, became bankrupt.  His then squeeze, Laura, bought back his fish and chip shop from the Official Receiver enabling the business to continue. But 2013 has seen a rash of real-life bankruptcies of past and current Eastenders stars.

It started on 2 January when Martine McCutcheon, who played Tiffany Mitchell in the 1990s, was made bankrupt (under her real name, Martine Kimberley Sherri Ponting).  Miss McCutcheon has enjoyed a successful career on TV, the stage, in films such as Love Actually and in music, including a chart-topping single, Perfect Moment, and a platinum-selling album in 1999.  Her reported debts were £187,000, with HM Revenue & Customs as the largest creditor.

Next was Joe Swash (Mickey Miller, in the soap), who was made bankrupt on 5 March for the second time – he was previously bankrupt in 2009. On both occasions, he was bankrupted by HM Revenue & Customs.  The first time the debt was of £20,000, but this time the debt was £50,000.  According to his spokesman, it was “all a simple mistake” and “will be resolved this week”.  The week’s lasted more than six months so far.

He was followed by Paul Bhattacharjee, against whom a bankruptcy order was made, on a petition presented by HM Revenue & Customs, on 9 July before he went missing and was subsequently tragically found dead at the foot of Splash Point Cliffs in Sussex on 12 July.

Finally, (at least for the moment!) Leila Morse, who plays Big Mo in the soap, was made bankrupt (under her real name of Maureen Lesley Bass) on 9 August. She, too, was bankrupted as a result of a petition by HM Revenue & Customs.

Actors tend to be self-employed freelancers and, as a result, pay their income tax a year in arrears.  That means that they have to plan for the payment which will become due and put the money aside.  That often causes problems if a really good year, with high profits and hence a large tax bill, is followed by a lean year when cash is tight.

Celebrities often pay very large sums of money to people to manage their affairs, but individuals always have to take final responsibility for their own financial affairs. Planning for a tax bill is crucial.

If you’re struggling to meet your bills, including your tax bills, take insolvency advice from a member of our Team. We’ll help you find a way through and, if at all possible, avoid bankruptcy.