Lee MacDonald has said his drug addict Grange Hill character curbed his career.
The actor played the schoolboy Sammy McGuire, known as Zammo, who descended into heroin addiction on the BBC series.
MacDonald left the show in 1987 and claims his subsequent career was hampered by his image as an addict.
He earned minor roles in Birds Of A Feather and The Bill, but his sideline in club appearances was cut short by the reputation of Zammo.
Speaking to The Sun, MacDonald said: “I was leaving Grange Hill but earning reasonable money doing personal appearances in clubs and places like that.
“But then I got a call and they said, ‘We’re not going to use you any more’.
“I was like, ‘What?’ And they said they didn’t want their nightclubs to be associated with a drug addict.”
MacDonald is returning to television with a role on BBC soap EastEnders, playing a bus driver called Terry who clashes with Danny Dyer’s character Mick Carter.
MacDonald has said he acted because he enjoyed it, and never for fame – something he believes has changed in the years since his time on Grange Hill.
He said: “When I finished Grange Hill and it sort of died down a bit, there wasn’t an addiction that I needed to get more and more fame, whereas now it tends to be different. Now, it’s more of a fame thing and how many followers you’ve got.”
The BBC has previously announced MacDonald would join EastEnders in spring.