Benefits Street star Fungi, who has gone into hiding since the explosive Channel 4 show first aired, fears he is DYING, it emerged today.
The dad-of-three – whose real name is James Clarke – is a self-confessed alcoholic and recovering drug addict.
He admitted on camera how he turned to substance abuse after suffering years of abuse when he was a child.
The 44-year-old, lived on James Turner Street in Winson Green, Birmingham, for four-and-a-half years before suffering a meltdown sparked by the stress of appearing on the show.
Fears for his health were raised when Channel 4 bosses admitted he had moved away from the area “for personal reasons.”
But in a heart-breaking interview, he revealed he believes he does not have long to live.
He said: “I haven’t got long left, I’m dying.
“I am waiting for my benefits to go up because of my health.
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“I’m on lots of medicines because of my health issues. I’m an alcoholic and I’ve not been well for years.
“I’m very sad about it but I’ve got lots of support from my friends on James Turner Street.”
In a teaser for next week’s episode which aired on Monday night, producers showed Fungi visiting the doctors before saying he might have cancer.
And friends of the lovable ex-junkie yesterday vowed to give Fungi a “James Turner Street send-off” when he finally passes away.
One pal said: “Fungi is everyone’s best friend and the real beating heart of the street. He’s a troubled soul but he hasn’t got a bad bone in his body.
“It’s so sad that he’s dying. We just hope he gets to see his kids before it’s too late.
“When he does go you know he’ll get a proper JT [James Turner] Street send-off.
“Everyone will probably wear beanie hat he’s famous for wearing and down a can of lager in his honour.”
Fungi is one of the best-known people on the street. In the first episode he openly downed lager in the street and conned shoppers out of cash by posing as a Big
In the latest episode viewers watched as Fungi revealed he had not seen his children for years.
In painful scenes, his neighbour White Dee comforted him when his hopes of meeting his six-year-old son, who had been adopted, were dashed at the last minute.
He also visited ex-partner Donna – described as his “first love” – and revealed his regret at throwing away his family for “a bit of heroin”.
Next week viewers will see Fungi going to the doctors after suffering a cancer scare.
Fellow resident Becky Howe, 25, said: “It wouldn’t be James Turner Street without Fungi in it.”
Fungi’s close pal Steve Haywood, who runs a roofing business on James Turner Street, said: “His phone is constantly turned off, I’m concerned for him.
“He’s the sort of person who wears his heart on his sleeve.”
Channel 4 was plunged into controversy last week after it emerged Fungi had fled his home on Benefits Street suffering a “meltdown”.
Friends told how producers bribed Fungi with BEER to appear on the show – a claim Channel 4 has always strenuously denied.
TV chiefs yesterday remained tight-lipped on Fungi’s admission he was dying, only saying he suffered a “health scare.”
A spokesman said: “Fungi had a health scare and underwent tests while we were filming with him last year.”