FORMER EastEnders star Paul Nicholls looked to be in a heated row with his lapdancer girlfriend after having lunch together.
The 42-year-old gestured with his hands as he appeared to clash with Hemma Kathrecha at a London restaurant.
Diners watched the alleged altercation take place before the pair – who were sitting outside – paid the bill and left.
An onlooker told The Sun: "They were having lunch together when a row broke out.
"It was clear to everyone sitting close by that they were arguing.
"They both looked irritated with each other, but they managed to brush over the clash.
"After paying the bill they carried on with their day out together and went shopping."
Our exclusive pictures show the actor – who played schizophrenic Joe Wicks in the BBC1 soap – appearing to argue in the outside area of the restauranton Hamsptead High Street, London.
Hemma briefly split with Paul in February this year, but the pair were all smiles when they rekindled their romance just weeks later.
Paul shot to fame on EastEnders in the mid-90s, but his life has been blighted by a cocaine addiction.
He opened up about his battle with the class A drug to The Sun earlier this year.
The 42-year-old fears he will die if he doesn’t kick his habit — and is desperately battling to stay clean.
His problems worsened when he “pressed the f*** it button” and went on four-day benders in squalid drug dens with people he did not know.
Paul admitted: “If I don’t stop, I will die.”
In an emotional, exclusive interview he also revealed for the first time how he was almost killed by a stroke in 2018,
It left him partly paralysed down one side and sent him spiralling into deep depression.
Paul said: “I’ve had addiction issues before and relapsed last year.
“The rabbit hole I went down led to places that I never thought I’d end up in — in flats with people that I didn’t know.
“I was taking lots of dihydrocodeine, a very strong opiate pain killer and on top of that, cocaine . . . every time I relapsed cocaine is always present.
“At certain points I’d be gone for three or four days and not sleep at all. I stopped caring, I pressed the ‘f*** it’ button.
“The last time I ended up in a flat with people smoking stuff, doing this and doing that.
“They recognised me. I was looking around and I thought, ‘If I don’t stop, I will die’.
“I’ve still got so much shame around this stuff.”
Paul said he has been attending Narcotics Anonymous and has fought hard to stay clean for the last few months.
But he said he has never fully recovered from an ordeal in Thailand in 2017 when he got trapped under a waterfall for three nights.
And he admitted that his stroke the following year sent him to “rock bottom”.
Pin-up Paul, whose real name is Paul Greenhalgh, joined EastEnders as a 16-year-old in 1996 but left a year later — revealing he was suffering with depression as well as drink and drug problems.
A familiar face on TV, he has appeared in numerous roles including in The C Word with Sheridan Smith, BBC detective drama Death in Paradise and most recently Channel 4’s Ackley Bridge.
He also starred in the hit film Bridget Jones’ Diary: The Edge of Reason in 2004. Paul dated soap co-stars Martine McCutcheon, 45, and Danniella Westbrook, 47, as well as Hollyoaks actress Joanna Taylor, 42. He married model Chantal Brown in 2008 but the couple divorced in 2015.
That year, he appeared on The Sun on Sunday’s front page after being snapped smoking from a crack pipe in a friend’s flat.
But Paul said his recent problems began during the trip to Thailand when he plunged off a road on his motorbike after being chased by “16 or 17” wild dogs. He broke both legs and was trapped under a waterfall for three nights before he was rescued.
Paul lives with former dancer Hemma and her two-year-old son.
She was the ex of pal Robert Selby, who Paul met at NA two years ago.
Despite his troubles, Paul wants to get back into work — and hasn’t ruled out returning to TV’s Albert Square.
He added: “Joe Wicks from EastEnders is still the character most people recognise me from.
“Joe left in a cab and went to Bolton, so he could come back. I never watch it now, but would I return if they asked me back? Of course!”
- IF you are suffering from problems with drugs, call Narcotics Anonymous on 0300 999 1212.
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