Shane Richie has revealed he was forced to keep his surprise EastEnders return a secret from co-star Jessie Wallace to preserve the shock value for fans that Alfie Moon was back in town.
Thursday’s episode ended with the almighty cliffhanger of Hayley Slater meeting her mystery man in a hotel who turned out to be her cousin Kat’s estranged husband Alfie, not seen by viewers since last summer’s spinoff Redwater, and the first time he’d been in EastEnders itself for over two years.
Speaking on Good Morning Britain today, Richie said: “Jessie is one of my best friends, I couldn’t even tell her. My mum rang me from Dublin last night and couldn’t believe I didn’t say anything!”
Discussing how the under-wraps appearance was devised, Richie confided: “We said right, we’re going to bring back Alfie for these particular storylines – tonight is the big reveal – we can’t tell anybody. I was snuck in.
“All the cast got a script and they had this moody name in it, I can’t remember what it was – Richard or Robin or something – and everyone’s going, ‘Who’s this Hayley’s boyfriend?’ and no one guessed. Jake Wood (Max Branning) text me, Steve McFadden (Phil Mitchell)… are you coming back? I said, ‘No, I’m away filming Benidorm.’. Of course, I wasn’t!”
Speculation is rife that Alfie is the father of Hayley’s secret baby but Shane wouldn’t be drawn, only urging fans to tune in this evening where the backstory as to why Kat and Alfie are no longer together will be explored. “There is a big story to be told and tonight we set the seeds for that. Alfie throws a spanner in the works – the repercussions of tonight’s episode will carry on.”
Richie is back for just two episodes, but teased Alfie’s future beyond tonight: “I’d like to think John Yorke (executive consultant) has got plans in the future for Alfie. It’s never the actor’s decision. There’s stories to be told and fingers crossed they’ll bring Alfie back to tell them.”
Talk also turned to the recent news of Richie’s former co-star Barbara Windsor’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis: “Bless her, the lovely Barbara. I’ve spoken to her husband Scott. When the news got announced I didn’t want to use the word Alzheimer’s or dementia. I know what Babs would have been like. I imagine her saying, ‘I’ve got a little spot of forgetfulness’. They’re battling on, everyday’s a different day for Scott. He is looking after her, he steps up to the mark and he’s a lovely geezer.”
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