Charles Bronson dreams of going on top reality show and coming face-to-face with celeb idol if he gets parole, pal says | The Sun

CHARLES Bronson has been belting out Queen's I Want To Break Free and wants to perform on Britain's Got Talent if he does finally get out after nearly 50 years inside.

A public parole hearing, which began yesterday, will decide whether the 70-year-old, who is one of the UK's longest serving prisoners, is fit for release.

And Bronson's pal of 20 years, Steve Wraith – who attended both of his weddings behind bars – says he's been passing the time by singing everything from the hymn Morning Has Broken to the Queen anthem in his cell.

In an exclusive interview actor Steve, 51, of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, said: “I asked him what his ambitions are and he said, 'I want to go on Britain's Got Talent'.

"He's a sucker for the hardship stories on there and he said he'd love to go on and perform for Simon Cowell.

“I think if he gets out – who knows maybe he'll get his chance to perform on stage… but whether it's going to happen is down to the parole board and so it remains to be seen.”

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'Now it's crunch time'

Yesterday, Bronson – dubbed Britain's most violent lag – vowed never to fight again if he is finally released from prison.

Talking at a hearing at the Royal Courts Of Justice, London, via a live stream link on Monday morning, he said: "I was born to have a rumble, I love to have a rumble.

"But I'm 70 now. It can become embarrassing. You have to grow up sooner or later."

Steve has known Bronson, who is now serving time at HMP Woodhill in Milton Keynes, for 20 years and during the pandemic would speak to him up to three times a week.

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And he says the one thing the hardman worries about is never getting out.

He said: “Charlie is a realist he knows and has told me numerous times, if he doesn't get parole this time he might never get a taste of freedom.

“I don't think Charlie fears much, he's someone that calls a spade a spade, but he knows he is running out of time.

“He's coming up to his twilight years so if he doesn't get parole he could spend the rest of his life behind bars.

“He has said this is a big opportunity for him as he's won the right to have the public hearing that he's fought for – but now it's crunch time and he is very aware that due to his age he is in the last chance saloon.

“He's been trying to pass away the hours leading up to the hearing singing songs in his cell – one of his favourites he likes is Queen's I Want To Break Free and Morning Has Broken.”

Just to go to see the dentist involves a load of prison officers escorting him

Steve has written two books with Bronson, attended both his weddings inside jail and has also featured him on his podcast from his cell.

The actor – who is playing one of Bronson's old friends, Stephen Sayers, in a film released this summer – added: “Over the course of two years I spoke to Charlie on a weekly and sometimes an almost daily basis. I've known him for over 20 years as a friend.

“He's humorous, intelligent and despite the fact that over the past four decades he's been in some of the toughest prisons and some of the most renowned hospitals for the criminally insane, he has managed to regain his sanity.

“Over the past 40 years he knows the crimes he committed were wrong and the crimes he committed inside he is remorseful of. However, he is a different person now.

“That is thanks to the prison officer Mike O'Hagan who gave him the opportunity to draw and paint – he's found his passion.”

Prison inside a prison

Born Michael Peterson in Luton, Bronson was convicted of armed robbery in 1974 and earned a reputation as a violent and dangerous inmate.

He changed his name to Charles Bronson during a brief spell of freedom in the Eighties, but went on to change his name again to Charles Salvador – in honour of the artist Salvadore Dali.

He has spent much of his time in solitary confinement.

Steve said: “Visits are really daunting as Charlie is kept in a prison inside a prison so the security really is unbelievable.

"He once told me that just to go to see the dentist involves a load of prison officers escorting him and being driven virtually a matter of yards in a van through the prison site – because he is a Category A prisoner no chances are taken.

“But the first time I visited him, he walked up to me – incredibly stocky and fit so he's got a real presence – but gave me a big, warm hug and said: 'I'm so pleased to finally meet you.'

“Two prison guards were sitting in the room, taking down every word we said. But Charlie doesn't talk about crime – he loves talking about Spurs, his poetry and art.”

Wedding day memories

And Steve has had a front row seat for some of the most intimate moments of Bronson's life, including his two weddings in jail in 2001 and 2017.

He said: “I was a guest at both his weddings behind bars.

"I was at his first marriage to Saira Ali Ahmed and the reception took place in London at a Woolwich pub connected with the former hardman Dave Courtney. Saira did a traditional dance.

“I met his mother and it was a day to remember.

“I also attended his second wedding to Paula Williamson, who has since tragically passed away. That was a different affair.

“Paula came to her reception handcuffed to a dwarf and did a first dance with a Bronson lookalike.

“His mum Ira is lovely. Charlie gets his forthright attitude from her as she doesn't suffer fools but she's a really nice lady.

“Charlie really wants her to see him as a free man before she passes away.

“He's not encouraged his mum to visit in recent years but he would love the opportunity to come out and see her and it would make them both very happy.”

'Loves a pork pie & Magnum lolly'

Steve said Bronson still lives in a prison inside a prison – so adapting to his future life and how the world has changed is key.

He said: “At Woodhill [prison] he's in what can only be described as almost a container that has been modernised to incorporate cells.

“When you go through your security check and you go past the drug sniffing dog you walk across the prison yard so you can see the rest of the prison population on exercise.

“On the way through the prison you go through the main area where other people have their visits.

“You can go to a canteen there and Charlie always loves a Magnum ice cream, a couple of pork pies and a packet of Spicy Doritos.

“You are then taken to a locked, gated area and into the containers and you can usually hear inmates shouting: “Are you here to see Charlie?”

“As you go through into the segregation unit you are searched a second time, then you go through another set of locked doors where you see Charlie.

“Two prison officers sit in the visiting room and one takes notes and you are on one side of the table and Charlie is on the other.

“He always gave me a hug.”

Steve said he's never seen his dark side.

“He does over 1,000 press ups a day. Physically he's a big man and you can see while people would feel intimidated by him. But I've never seen the side that led to his notoriety.”

He said that Charlie does “own” his past, adding: “When you hear of what happened back in the day about kidnapping the prison officer Phil Danielson, or rooftop protests or covering himself in butter to have a rumble with prison guards – that is shocking stuff.

“He discussed it, he was very open, very honest, the one thing about Charlie is he owns his past.

“He's earned his opportunity to have a crack at parole, whether that's the opportunity is a release into a prison population, or perhaps even an open prison remains to be seen.

He doesn't deserve to die in a segregation unit

“But I feel he doesn't deserve to die in a segregation unit . I think the punishment has been served.”

While Charlie is said to be hoping to move into a caravan in Devon, Steve says that remains to be seen.

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“It's always a big question, would I be bothered if Charlie lived next door?” he said.

“The answer is yes, but not for the reasons you might think. I'd probably have to sound proof the walls due to his singing!"

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