And how does McFadden feel about the prospect of Carl usurping Phil as Walford’s top dog? “I’m not holding on to some image of what Phil ought to be. He should be turned over so he gets a chance to fight back. You only truly know someone when they lose everything and fight to get back up.”
The crash itself - which is set to kick off a high-profile autumn that will see the return of both Samantha Womack and Barbara Windsor - certainly makes for spectacular viewing. And those in creative control will be hoping that the scenes give the soap the shot of adrenaline it needs following recent criticism about flagging ratings. But does such talk about EastEnders being in a vulnerable state worry McFadden?
“It’s not my problem, thank God. I wouldn’t want that responsibility,” he says. “I think acting is like dancing: you bring in your clogs, do your dance and then finish and forget about it. I take the show seriously and commit to it 100 per cent, but I don’t get drawn into all that. I like the clarity of coming in and doing my bit.”
McFadden has now been "doing his bit" for 23 years and will have completed his quarter century just as the soap celebrates its 30th anniversary. And while he can envisage a time when he sails off into the sunset to indulge his passion for boats, he does still relish the opportunity to add fresh shades to Phil's character.
“Sometimes, the things that on the page have not seemed very ‘Phil’ have turned out to be the best stuff. In a way, you have to work harder to make it work and that’s what I was trained to do.”
And would he like to see Phil reunited with his brother Grant, as played by Ross Kemp? After all, the pair – who were originally brought into the show in 1990 – haven’t been seen together on screen since 2006:
“I do remember somebody telling me that there had been a writers’ meeting and it was tabled as to whether or not Phil could survive without Grant,” he reveals. “I was surprised that they were thinking about this because I believed he could. But that’s how much of a duo they were thought of. And while time has moved on and we’ve proved that Phil can survive on his own, I am up for Ross coming back. It would certainly be interesting.”