Dun­more EastEnd

Eas­tEn­ders leg­ends Jessie Wal­lace and Shane Richie are back as Kat and Al­fie Moon – look­ing for her long-lost son in Dun­more East

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - NEWS - By Tim Oglethorpe Kat & Al­fie: Redwater starts tonight at 9.30pm on RTÉ One.

S hane Richie claims he and his for­mer Eas­tEn­ders co-star Jessie Wal­lace are so close they share se­crets they’ll take to their graves. ‘It’s part of the bond be­tween us,’ he says. ‘We watch each other’s backs when it comes to our per­sonal lives and we never be­tray each other. Some of what’s hap­pened to us has been well doc­u­mented. Thank­fully some hasn’t – and hope­fully never will be!’

The same can’t be said of the cou­ple’s fa­mous char­ac­ters, Al­bert Square’s Kat and Al­fie Moon. For 14 years their scan­dal-filled lives were played out in front of mil­lions of fans be­fore they won £1 mil­lion on the Lot­tery and upped sticks to start a new life in Spain at the be­gin­ning of 2016 with their son Tommy. A baby swap, in­fi­delity, ar­son, a mis­car­riage, di­vorce, re­mar­riage and fi­nan­cial dis­as­ter... you name it, when it came to the sta­ples of soap opera mar­ried life, Kat and Al­fie ticked ev­ery box.

There was, how­ever, one story that re­mained un­told. The fate of Kat’s baby son Luke, who was adopted at birth by an Ir­ish cou­ple when she was a teenager. Only now, in new drama se­ries

Kat & Al­fie: Redwater, which starts tonight on RTÉ One, will the truth emerge. ‘Kat’s been piec­ing to­gether what hap­pened – from what she was told be­fore she left Al­bert Square to a postcard she re­ceived from the Ir­ish vil­lage of Redwater in the 1980s that said he was safe,’ ex­plains Jessie. ‘She and Al­fie visit Redwater, where they be­lieve Luke might be liv­ing, and ruf­fle feath­ers, es­pe­cially among two prom­i­nent fam­i­lies, the Kellys and the Dolans.’ Redwater isn’t a soap spin-off, the kind Eas­tEn­ders have made over the years fea­tur­ing char­ac­ters such as Dot Cot­ton and Frank Butcher, but a stand-alone drama over six hour-long episodes that makes no men­tion of Al­bert Square at any point. Jesper W Nielsen, the award-win­ning di­rec­tor of Dan­ish drama Bor­gen, has been drafted in to over­see the se­ries, which was filmed in Dun­more East, County Water­ford. ‘It’s a classy show, with lots of trou­ble be­ing taken over the film­ing,’ says Shane, sip­ping tea in The Strand Inn, the beau­ti­ful ho­tel on the seafront in Dun­more East. ‘We’d get through 20-odd scenes a day on Eas­tEn­ders, on this we’re only get­ting through two or three. It’s taken me and Jessie a bit of get­ting used to. We film one scene, then it takes an hour or two to set up the next to make sure it’s all per­fect.’

The drama opens at the hill­side house that Kat and Al­fie have rented on the cliff over­look­ing Redwater. It’s from here that Kat sets out to find Luke. She’s con­vinced she’s found him al­most in­stantly when a hand­some, dark­haired man in his 30s called Andy Kelly, part of the fam­ily that owns a nearby cat­tle farm, looms into view dur­ing the vil­lage’s boozy Spring Fes­ti­val. ‘She starts tak­ing pic­tures of him and vis­it­ing him on the farm,’ ex­plains Jessie. ‘This de­sire to track down the son she had to give up all those years ago burns within her. She sees this as her big chance and she’s de­ter­mined to take it.’

When Kat is be­friended by pub land­lord Peter Dolan, who they’re rent­ing from, her med­dling opens up new rifts be­tween the Kellys and the Dolans, who all seem to be hiding se­crets. Mean­while, could the brain tu­mour Al­fie was di­ag­nosed with be­fore the Moons left for Spain be caus­ing him to see things that might not be there?

Kat and Al­fie’s sur­vival as a mar­ried cou-

ple has been key to their pop­u­lar­ity with view­ers. ‘Peo­ple like the fact they’ve stayed to­gether de­spite the chal­lenges they’ve faced,’ says Shane. ‘We’ve no­ticed that par­tic­u­larly in Ire­land. The Ir­ish are very big on fam­ily so when they see a cou­ple who’ve gone the dis­tance, they ad­mire that.’

Jessie agrees. ‘Ir­ish peo­ple like the fact our char­ac­ters are just like any other mar­ried cou­ple. They bicker and fight but love each other very much. A bit like Shane and me re­ally!’

De­spite many rumours, Shane and Jessie have never been a cou­ple, al­though much has been writ­ten about their re­spec­tive love lives. In his au­to­bi­og­ra­phy Rags To Richie: The Story So Far, Shane ad­mit­ted to an af­fair with dancer Claire Tay­lor while mar­ried to first wife Coleen Nolan, by whom he has two sons, Shane Ju­nior and Jake, who are now in their 20s. And Alison Hall, the pres­i­dent of Shane’s fan club, claimed she had an af­fair with him in the early days of his re­la­tion­ship with sec­ond and cur­rent wife Christie God­dard, with whom he has three more chil­dren.

Jessie was dat­ing Mal­lorca-based for­mer crim­i­nal Paul Whit­worth when she joined

Eas­tEn­ders in 2000, be­fore a li­ai­son with po­lice­man Dave Mor­gan, by whom she has a 12-year-old daugh­ter, Tal­lu­lah. The cou­ple parted soon af­ter Jessie gave birth. ‘Me and Jessie have been there for each other through good times and bad,’ says Shane. ‘Our friend­ship has lasted longer than my first mar­riage and longer, to date, than my sec­ond so it’s based on some­thing solid.’

‘There’s a short­hand be­tween us and a lot of mu­tual re­spect,’ adds Jessie. ‘Even when we row we still feel com­fort­able with each other.’

Some of their fall­outs have been spec­tac­u­lar. They didn’t speak to each other for five years while they were in Eas­tEn­ders, as each thought the other was spilling dress­ing room se­crets to tabloid news­pa­pers. And when they were on tour to­gether with the Peter James play The Per­fect Mur­der in Ed­in­burgh last year, Jessie wouldn’t talk to Shane af­ter he called her an id­iot. ‘She couldn’t find her pass­port,’ says Shane. ‘I said, “Why did you bring it? We’ve only come to Scot­land,” and she said she thought she had to.’

‘He called me an id­iot so I wouldn’t talk to him for a week,’ says Jessie.

Let the bick­er­ing be­gin again!

In the frame: Ir­ish stars in the cast in­clude, from left, An­ge­line Ball as Eileen; Maria Doyle Kennedy as Roisin Kelly; and Fion­nula Flana­gan as Agnes

Dun­more Eas­tEn­ders: Shane and Jessie in the new show

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