Has Alfie left EastEnders for good after abducting baby Cherry?

Hayley might never see her daughter again - but have we seen the last of Shane Richie?

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Alfie Moon (Shane Richie) has escaped Walford with his baby daughter Cherry Slater and intends to leave the country – as the pair secretly go on the run from Cherry’s mum Hayley Slater (Katie Jarvis) is this the last we’ve seen of them in EastEnders?

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Kat Moon (Jessie Wallace) had been promised by her errant ex-husband he would deliver Cherry safely back to Hayley on Tuesday 8 January and then get out of their lives, having already abducted the tot on Christmas Day following the violent showdown that saw Alfie take a tumble down the stairs after Kat learnt he had cheated with her cousin and was her newborn’s daddy.

But Alfie struggled with the idea of giving Cherry back to her mum as he still thinks Hayley is unstable and the little one would be better off with him – and in an ideal world Kat as co-parent.

Getting Kat to let him spend one last day with his child, Alfie spent the episode desperately trying to raise some money before departing Walford. It was emotional as he later bumped into Kat with sons Tommy, Bert and Ernie and realised it could be the last time he ever sees them.

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After a charged farewell, Alfie had a change of heart about giving Cherry up and told close friend Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt), who he had been staying with, he couldn’t let the baby be “dragged up by the Slaters” and had decided to take Cherry and sneak off without telling anyone.

Begging Ian to cover for him and keep Kat stalled so he had enough time to flee, Alfie hopped in the car, strapped Cherry in and drove off with a grand plan to leave the UK to make a new start away from the Slaters. As he made a sharp exit, hoping Kat and the Slaters wouldn’t see him leaving in broad daylight, there was a hint of regret from Alfie who is so desperate to be part of his love child’s life he feels going on the run is his only option…

How long is Shane Richie back in EastEnders for?

Fans are now wondering whether this is Alfie’s exit from the show, which must be imminent as Shane Richie is joining the cast of West End musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie at the end of January for a three-month stint.

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Producers have been deliberately vague about how long Alfie would be back on screen for, but with a mile-wide mean streak emerging and his hatred of Hayley and poor treatment of  Kat increasing over a dramatic Christmas, has the character reached the point of no return?

If Alfie has gone for good (or at least for now) how will fragile Hayley react at the news she may never see her baby again?

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