A Phone Call From Carlton...

Carlton often gets asked to help out with various school, college and university projects, and whilst he can't fit all of them in, it's always pleasure for him to hear that a student got a good grade on an assignment that involved him; as was the case with Ella Keaton. When Ella was studying Film & TV at college in Liverpool, she was presented with a task to evaluate films from various genres, so it was only right to include her mum's favourite film: Rise of the Footsoldier!

A mutual friend managed to send Carlton a copy of young Ella's research, and Carlton called her up to congratulate her on her grade, which came as a pleasant surprise to Ella.

When asked about her choice, the student said, "Carlton’s life seemed too good not to write about, it was such a complexed story and I could just see all the different things I wanted to talk about while planning the write up. This was just for the Market Research for my project and I love to research and the whole process of writing the different things up, so I did get a little carried away and this ended up being the majority of my Market Research as it kind of hit everything I wanted to talk about in it. That’s when I started looking deeper as such into the characters and of course that meant the real life people the whole thing just really intrigued me and it still does."

Ella received the grade of Distinction* for her submission and below you can find her research, which was a big contribution to her final grade:


Rise of the Footsoldier is an 18+ film which was released on the 7th September 2007. It grossed a total of £220,868. This film is based on the autobiography of Carlton Leach who had risen from a football hooligan, to becoming a bouncer, hired muscle and later part of the Essex Firm of the 1990 and his involvement with Tony Tucker, Pat Tate and Craig Rolfe.

This film is the autobiography of Carlton Leach and it shows his life as a football hooligan all the way to his part in the Essex Firm. It also tells the story of the Rettington Murders on the 6th December 1995 in the town of Rettington in Essex. Which resulted in 3 drug dealers being shot in a range rover, these 3 men were the bodies of Tony Tucker, Pat Tate and Craig Rolfe.

Carlton Leach and Tony Tucker were best mates; they were really close like brothers. The whole film is around 2 hours long and it goes through the life of Carlton Leach and his involvement with the Essex boys. This film also covers the story of the Rettington murders and it slowly shows you the change in characters from the start then to the end up to where the 3 men got shot. This is a true story told to us by Carlton Leach as he wasn't part of the Range Rover killings as he wasn't present when it happened obviously or he wouldn't be here. To put the story into a short explanation it is the rise of Carlton Leach from one of the most feared generals of football terraces to becoming a member of the notorious gang of criminals who rampaged their way through London and Essex in the late eighties and early nineties.  

Carlton Leach:  Carlton Leach is an English author and a former criminal. Leach was born in Canning Town. Leach was propelled into a violent life by his love for the football club West Ham United at an early age. He became involved with a gang of football hooligans which provided him a taste of the criminal world. A fan of West Ham United F.C. He was also part of the I.C.F which stands for the Inter City Firm and they used to call themselves this because of the fact they used to take the Inner City Trains to the games. But after a couple of years he got out because he had a near death experience while fighting and he decided it wasn't worth it as the police were coming down harder on them sending the down for little things this was after ten years as what he describes as "a hardcore hooligan", Leach, who was born and bred in Canning Town now lives in Southend, decided he'd had enough of football violence. But his fearsome reputation went before him and he was soon working as a bouncer in the tough clubs of East London. He got approached by a club owner wanting him to be the bouncer for his club as he had heard things about him and knew he could handle himself on the door because at the time things were getting violent quickly. This is where he met Tony Tucker who was a big dealer in the night clubs, after meeting Tony he became involved with him and his Mates Pat Tate and Craig Rolfe, a gang of hooligans who followed the East London Club. In 2003 Carlton Leach wrote a memoir about his criminal exploits, entitled Muscle. In 2007 a film based on the book was released, entitled Rise of the Footsoldier and starring Ricci Harnett as Carlton Leach. The two worked closely together because if Ricci was going to play as Carlton Leach he had to know and do things like Carlton Leach so in the couple of months leading up to his role as the Infamous “footsoldier” (Carlton leach) he had to get in his mind set so he could do a convincing performance. In 2015, Leach worked with Ricci to organize another film about his life, Reign of the General, but after losing a legal battle over copyright, the film was taken over by the owners of Rise of the Footsoldier and released. The same people went on to make a third film in the franchise in 2017. Leach claimed to have no part in the film, and commented on Twitter that it was fictional and no longer his story. In 2021, Carlton decided to release what he called his last (autobiographical) book. Co-authored with Jason Allday, the book Titled, "CARLTON - The Final Say" it went to number 1 on Amazon's best seller list within 24hrs of release. It has been said that the book is, "more than Essex and the same old......" as it covers Carlton's life from childhood until now; including references and contributions from his family and friends. Obviously during his life some people wanted to make it into a film as it is a really great story to tell, so he agreed and helped them with this film Rise of the Footsoldier. Some of the scenes will be fictionalized or toned down as film companies aren't able to show everything that happened if it's too graphic or if they didn't have an idea of some of the things that went down. As Carlton Leach was the main source in telling them what happened and maybe didn't want to tell them everything and that is his right as the whole film is not only his story it's also of 3 other men so he won't be able to speak on their behalf as 1. It's not his story to tell and 2. He won't know all the bits and he couldn't have been with them 24/7. but i think the majority will have been what Carlton has told them as it is his story so i doubt he would have wanted any lies about him considering from where he has come from in the world. But of course it is a film so they have to dramatize some scenes as someone's life and they are making a film out of it so for the viewers to actually be engrossed in this film there will have to have different storylines that didn't happen to make an actual storyline and to make it interesting and for it to flow properly so some things will be fictional or exaggerated. But I think the majority of what happened he will have told them about, of course I’m not 100% sure as i wasn’t there when they wrote it or filmed it so I’m just saying what could have happened. A former football hooligan, he turned his back to a life of violence and drug dealings after his close friend Tony Tucker was shot to death in a Range Rover in Rettendon. Today Carlton hopes to use his experiences in the underworld activities to help turn others away from a life of crime. He blindly supported his favourite club, and fighting for it was part and parcel of his love for the team. After leaving the crime world, he wrote a memoir about his criminal life which was later adapted into the film ‘Rise of the Footsoldier.’After the murders of his 3 mates Leach changed, He went from a Fearsome Hardman to being terrified he would be the next one to take a bullet Even five years after the murders, he stayed paranoid. He didn't trust anyone and kept himself away from people. After ten years as a hardcore hooligan, Carlton Leach decided to leave behind football violence, his bouncer's job, and drug dealing behind him.

The first film: At the beginning of the film before Tony, Pat and Craig have come onto the scene it's all about Carlton and his rise like I've said before from him being a Football Hooligan, bouncer to hired Muscle and then finally to his involvement in the Essex boys.

When he started getting around the clubs he decided to get his old Football guys to come help him on some of the doors as he knew he could trust them and there would be no bull coming from them. Then they started being hired by Muscle for little jobs and drug deals as Carlton says in the film people didn't mind dipping in their pocket for the sake of them having sane minds knowing nothing was going to go wrong. This is where things started to go wrong for Carlton.

Now I'm not sure how much of this is real. I am taking all this bit of information from the film.

Carlton didn't agree with Heroin he said it was “a mug's game” then one of his guys got involved with being muscle for hire with the Turkish Mafia and that is until some went missing while Eddie was on watch. This didn't go down well of course because it was the Turks they wanted their Stash back and they were determined on getting it. They went with the Turkish style to try to get it out of the guys who might know where it is and these were all of Carlton’s men. The first time they did it was with Truth Serum and then the next time they didn’t bother asking Carlton to sit down and try to figure it out they went with their way of hardcore Turkish Torture to get it out of them and they left everyone Terrified especially Eddie. One guy saying “3 days…if we knew anything about the heroin we would have told them.” Carlton speaks about Eddie saying “Those Turks had killed him in that warehouse. They may have left him breathing, but he died there all the same. One of my boys was dead, and those Turks were about to find out what it felt like to be on the wrong end of a kebab knife.”

Now at this point in time Carlton had met Tony in the clubs and Tony found out Carlton wanted to go to war and he stopped him. He fought and fought with Carlton not to and he talked sense into him. Looking back, you can see this massive change in Tony. In this scene you can almost see Tony being how Carlton is at the end of the film. It's almost as though they have switched roles. From watching the whole film you can tell by the end of the film Carlton is aware of everything and he adds everything up and the risks before doing something, he thinks things through. Whereas Tony at the end of it wasn’t thinking things through he was kicking off without a second though and not thinking of what that could lead to or the repercussions but in the first half of the film him talking Carlton into backing down shows you he has thought about what that could lead to so he has thought about every bit of it but at the end he isn't doing that he is reacting with emotions which eventually gets himself killed for doing stuff like retaliating for no reason. Pat Tate was the same, he was what was described as a “6’4 Psychotic Yeti” the moment someone disagreed with what he wanted he turned into an “angry psychotic Yeti.” He had a special place in his heart for flipping out at restaurants. Craig was no better he just did things in the film to get back in with tony or to prove himself and these 3 personalities all bundled up into one wasn't a good idea because unlike when Carlton needed to be spoken to about which battles to fight and which ones not to these 3 were just making excuses to do anything to anyone and there was no way anyone was gonna be able to speak them out of it.

Acting: the acting from Ricci Harnett, in this film he is outstanding it was like he was made to play this part. While you're watching it it's not like you're watching an actor it's like you're actually watching it in real life but it's not at the same time. His mannerisms and the way he holds himself, the way he walks and his resting face when he's not even the main focus in a scene is just incredible. That final scene just proved how good of an actor he is with that performance he did. I can't put into words how good it was. To bring someone to life in a film when they are a real person is difficult enough but it's even more difficult when the person you're playing is alive and has a big personality and a story like Carlton Leach. Personally I would be scared of getting something wrong and not coming across as the man he actually is with all the different emotions. Ricci Harnett is truly a dedicated actor because he took on the role and took it to the next level. If I were Carlton I would be very happy with the performance he did because it was like you were watching a real life gangsta on the screen and not an actor. His acting did get better as he went on. I feel like we watched him grow into the role from the very start to the end and his acting only just gets better and more realistic. I feel as though when he raised through the ranks he became more and more confident in his role possibly taking on board from what he had learnt from Carlton but what i stand by the actor can only do what he can do nobody else can help him with that so his performance is solely on him, people have given him the tools and he's had to work on the role so he can become Carlton and convince his audience that he is this fearsome criminal and he should be so proud of his performance as he's the one that made that happen nobody else could do the acting for him he could only take the resources he has been given and put them into this character only he could do that and he did it perfectly.  

 For all actors really they all did really well casting Terry Stone he did a really good job as portraying Tony but the wig was really bad that is the only fault I can think of for him and that has nothing to do with him that is wardrobe. But of course they did other movies of the Rise of the footsoldier the Pat Tate ones and i feel as though they ruined Tony in those ones as they made him seem like he wasn't smart and was clumsy at what he did but in the first one he was a very smart man (up until the end) and then they backtracked because the Pat Tate Franchise was meant to be before they even met Carlton leach so I do feel as though they ruined him in the Pat Tate ones but then again they didn't have Carlton leach telling them what he was like so they lost their way and backtracked on how he was in the first one and as a writer you should never do that you can’t portray him to be one thing and then change him it's not how it works and they shouldn't have done it at all because it’s just basic script knowledge. The only reason I can think they did this was because it was Pat Tate's story. Maybe they wanted to have Pat's thought process of Tony as someone who was thick and just a soldier in his world, but saying this there was nothing ever to connect that theory. If they were going for that they needed to make that clear with how Pat Tate reacts to Tony but they didn't. It didn't matter what he was like in real life in the 3 after the first 2 as it was fictional but the whole story you can't change they needed to go with one thing and then stick to it but they didn’t. But despite anything to do with script and wardrobe Terry did an amazing job at bringing that character to life.

They did the same with Craig Rolfe, Now for me i could barely find anything on him but they made him seem incredibly dumb and weak in the film but that couldn't have been true because he couldn't have been in that world if he was, like all men in that word he needs to have a nasty side so people know not to mess with him and that was never shown apart from when he killed that guy because he owned Tony money and even that was made into a joke and he just got dumber and dumber as the franchise moved on. I mean that might have been true he might have not been the brightest or the hardest but that's just my opinion. But for the role they wanted to make him seem they picked the perfect man to portray him.

Pat i feel as though they wrote him to what he was actually like and they got the perfect man for the role, i have watched multiple things on him and read articles which claimed that he was in fact a “psychotic Yeti” and he is portrayed as that perfectly in all 5 films so Craig Fairbrass did an amazing performance to the point where some scene you actually gasped and were like “oh my god” im sure thats the reaction they were looking for with half of the stuff he did in the films. All of the acting was effortless in a goodway it just looked like everyone was relaxed and just going with it and not being afraid to go all in with their characters and that is what really does make a great actor/Actress.      

Pat Tate and Tony Tucker's and Craig Rolfes Ending: After Pat Tate got out of Jail after serving 10 years he and tony tucker were reunited but when it was just tony, pat and craig before Pat got sent down so after he was release he then got introduced to Carlton Leach and they got on. Carlton said in his book to describe pat and his relationship as “You could trust him and behind closed doors he was very lovable- like a brother” He also described Tony tucker as “he was a good friend of mine, through all his bad points and he was a bully i've seen him do some bad things like i saw but he's still my friend, he supported me, loved me as a mate thats the Tony Tucker i know. This is why I keep him alive in films and books and everything I do. That's why I made a film. He's my best mate…every time I do something he's with me here on the stage, on the telly in a book. I'm keeping his memory alive.” from 1990 and all the way til 1995 when they died Tony tucker and Pat Tate were getting more and more unpredictable they were getting out of control, they were beating whoever they like up, going after anyone they wish and they were creating it hard for any of the underworld to do anything because all eyes were on that world because of them. They needed to go. Now nobody knows what happened to the men on the 6th December 1995 in that Range Rover as Carlton Leach says “the only people who really know are in the ground” In the film it gives us 3 rumors of what could have happened. The most believable and the one the police went with was that a drug lord needed rid of them so they organized to draw them out somewhere. They told them they were getting a stash in and wanted them in on it and of course they agreed, Tony asked Carlton if he wanted to tag along but Carlton refused as he was being watched closely so he couldn't move without the police there it was just the best scenario for this to go down smoothly. They go to the meet and the guy who told them about it had planned for a shooter to be waiting behind some trees so when the guy got out to ‘open the gate’ the shooter came out and shot all three, Tony Tucker, Pat Tate and Craig Rolf in the head and they didn't have time to react before they were all dead. Now in a talk Carlton Leach speaks about why he wasn't in the Range Rover and he said “if Tony thought there was danger…please believe me…Tony Tucker of all the people he would have been like come with me to back me up and we would have been tooled up. They were in the car with no tools; they trusted the people.” so from looking at all three scenarios which could have happened and taking this into consideration it helps you come up with an answer to what happened and of course people are going to have different thoughts about what happened and nobody is even gonna know for sure except the people who are in the ground and the people who planned it and then the people who carried it out.

 After the deaths Carlton Leach has lost 3 of his friends… He said “i am the fourth body that should have been in the back of that car” Carlton Leach was one of the first people the police took in for questioning but two men Jack Arthur Whomes and Michael Jon steel got arrested and were convicted of the murders on 20 January 1998 after an Old Bailey trial, after being found guilty of the murders and are both serving triple life sentences, their guilt was based on the testimony of Darren Nichole, a convicted Thief and a self-confessed liar, Both convicts still protest their innocence to this day.

hints:  Towards the end of the film there is a sit-down meeting with Pat tat, Tony Tucker and eventually Craig Rolfe joins them. This meeting is the storyline (which is the 3rd scenario with how the 3 men died.) This man who wanted them in on a deal was called Mickey Steele. He told the men that he has just been hired for a job which involved his plane and he wanted them to join him into this job and convinced them that the money from this deal will set them up for the rest of their lives, from listening to this Tony even said after the deal he was going to go into early retirement. While this meeting was going on there was a girl on stage singing and most of the words were “walk away walk away”. They should have heard that it is an Easter egg because it's a hidden message that they haven't even noticed. There have been warnings for them to get out and ‘walk away’ and for them to use this song in this scene just proves something bad is going to happen and for the first time there is a warning for them to get out and just walk away for once. It is the perfect song for this as it just proves that for any other job that they did there was no warning for but for this deal there is a literal woman singing “walk away” you couldn't get any more clearer than that. Further in the song she sings “why'd you go so far” to me this is saying that if they do this deal, they are going way too far and maybe they can't handle what is to come. Now in the film Carlton decides not to do the deal with them. He's looking at the bigger picture and not interested in doing it but from my research he is unable to participate for legal reasons. So, depending on how much of the truth is in the film and my research then Carlton Leach could have been just as blinded by this and he could have been another body in the back of the car. He was incredibly lucky whichever way it went down. But even after Tony, Pat and Craig had been told the amount they were going to be getting from this in the film (of course nobody is gonna know if this actually happened or not because this conversation is just between the 3 if them and they are no longer with us so this bit is fictionalized) Pat still decided that they should rob Mickey and take his half for themselves and this is how far you know at the end that they were out of control and unpredictable because even if this was an actual deal that was going to happen they had planned to rob him even though he had brought them into the deal and with the amount they were gonna make they were just being greedy at this point. This final decision just proves the point the film was trying to create that they were out of control.