For many young actors, landing a plum role on a major soap can seem like signing up to a job for life – just look at William Roache, who has played Ken Barlow on Coronation Street for more than three decades, while only his recent death prevented Clive Hornby from reaching the 30-year milestone with his Emmerdale character, Jack Sugden.
Such longevity and the financial rewards which accompany it, however, is relatively rare in a cut-throat world where producers constantly strive to stay ahead of their competitors on the other channel through ever-more sensational storylines and a revolving door policy of young and good-looking stars.
Just ask Eastenders actor Joe Swash, who has been revealing his disappointment at being dropped from the BBC soap following on from a lengthy – and near-fatal – battle with meningitis, which saw him have to limit his appearances on the Albert Square set.
However, it is not the missed opportunity of joining the pantheon of soap greats, up there with the likes of Roache and Hornby, which upset him the most – after all, this is a young actor who has revealed his ambition to push his career as far as possible and who was becoming disillusioned by the fact that his character Mickey Miller was becoming nothing more than a "joker".
Rather, it was the financial uncertainty which comes with being off work through illness for an extended period of time which was his principal concern.
Swash told the Sun: "My illness had a massive impact on my job. When I came back I couldn’t find my feet. New producers came in and brought in new actors and I got lost down the pecking order".
"If you’re not working, you have to survive without pay. The more time I had off, the more I knew I was missing out."
Whatever your profession, it pays to prepare for the worst
Fortunately for him, the young actor has made a full recovery and the roles look likely to keep coming in, starting with an appearance on the forthcoming series of ITV’s Dancing on Ice, which will also feature former Emmerdale star Roxanne Pallett.
Thousands of others are not so lucky, however.
As the full impact of the global crisis in the credit markets starts to make itself felt, businesses in all sectors – aside from bailiffs firms – are starting to make job cuts, with many of those to be made redundant to face the prospect of a slow economy, where recruitment rates are grinding to a halt, often without much financial security to back them up.
Of course, Britons have long been advised to keep three-months salary set aside in case of a worst-case scenario, no matter how rosy the immediate outlook is.
However, even that now looks insufficient, with income protection insurance cited as the ultimate back-up plan by a large proportion of financial advisors.
Harry Katz, principal IFA of Norwest Consultants, explained: "If your family is left with a repossessed house because you’re ill and you can’t work, once that happens you’ll turn around and say ‘ wish I had income protection.’ Of course at the time that someone mentions it to you, you might think you can’t afford to [take it out]. But you could end up losing your house."
In this climate, the gamble isn’t worth it
As well as those with families to support, income protection is particularly advantageous for young first-time buyers who have taken a gamble on getting their own place and being able to meet expensive mortgage commitments until their careers progress further.
As with all insurance policies bar the compulsory car cover, income protection insurance is essentially taking a gamble against the odds.
However, as the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) warns that the UK is just a matter of weeks away from a full-blown recession, it is increasingly becoming clear than this is a risk simply not worth taking for those in already-precarious financial circumstances, with even the best actors now being hit as broadcasters themselves cut corners and reach for the old tapes and fill the airways with repeats.