A renaissance man who used Croydon as the inspiration for his debut gangster novel almost got a Coronation Street star shot by police while filming the screenplay, he has revealed.

Armed police trained their weapons on the cast of Tony Royden’s film of The Dealer because they mistook the action for a real-life gangland murder - only stopping when they recognised one of the ‘killers’ was former Red Dwarf actor Craig Charles.

Horrified onlookers strolling along a riverbank raised the alarm after seeing several ‘victims’ getting their throats slit before being dumped over the side of a boat, in what they thought were a series of brutal daylight killings.

Officers realised their mistake after noticing one of the killers with an infra red dot on his chest was Corrie actor Charles, while another team storming the nearby boatyard stumbled across Fast Show star John Thomson learning his lines.

Mr Royden, who wrote much of the book at his girlfriend’s home in Forestdale, said he believed his comedy film could easily have become a tragedy if police had not recognised the TV stars.

The scene forms an important part of his new novel of the same name, which tells the tale of a hardcore east London gangster who has traded his hectic city existence for a quiet life in a rural village.

Mr Royden said: “Unlike the manic hustle and bustle of inner London life, I found Forestdale so much quieter and slower paced.

“It also borders with some stunning countryside and quaint English villages – which was completely in keeping with the setting of my novel, so I found it inspirational just being there.

“By complete coincidence my publisher also had the first edition, 10,000 copies, of my book printed locally in Croydon, so for many reasons I am grateful to the area.”

The author will be signing copies of the novel at Waterstone’s in the Whitgift Centre on December 12, between 11am and 3pm.

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