Al­fie Croon!

EastEn­ders’ Shane Richie on the Jack Daniel’s habit that cost him his Nolan sis­ter wife – but in­spired the coun­try mu­sic al­bum that’s turned him into...

The Mail on Sunday - Event - - MUSIC -

In a week when DIY SOS pre­sen­ter Nick Knowles came out as a gui­tar-trou­bling troubadour, Shane Richie – ‘TV’s Al­fie Moon!’ – has gone one bet­ter and made a de­cent fist of a mod­ern coun­try al­bum.

And, in the grand ole cow­boy­booted tra­di­tion, the col­lec­tion of cov­ers and self-writ­ten com­po­si­tions con­tains the oblig­a­tory heart­bro­ken, boozy bal­lad.

‘I lost my first wife through my drink­ing,’ he con­fesses, re­fer­ring to his nine-year mar­riage to Nolan sis­ter and Loose Women fix­ture Coleen, with whom he had two chil­dren. ‘A bot­tle of Jack [Daniel’s] and I was off.’

Richie, 53, has ad­dressed his demons in The Bot­tle’s Not Your

Friend, which looks down the road where booz­ing ‘shifts from tem­po­rary so­lu­tion to prob­lem’.

‘It was tough to write,’ he frowns. ‘It’s pretty per­sonal. “It won’t keep you warm and it won’t have your back in a fight.” That’s what it is about.’ The TV en­ter­tainer and

EastEn­ders star looks back on his Jack-fu­elled, wom­an­is­ing days with a mix­ture of guilt and be­wil­der­ment. He runs a hand through his freshly dyed hair as he re­luc­tantly re­calls his wilder times.

‘By 1996 my ego had taken over,’ he ad­mits. ‘I was get­ting a po­lice es­cort to night­clubs. I’d be think­ing, I’m 30, I’ve got bad skin but all these girls are scream­ing for me out­side. It went to my head and I was a bit out of con­trol. I’d just had a Daz ad where they paid me a load of money and I thought I was sorted for life, that it was go­ing to last for ever. I be­lieved the hype and I do re­gret that now.

‘I was ly­ing to my­self about the drink­ing and the women, think­ing I was pulling the wool over the pub­lic’s eyes. I’d be on TV ad­vo­cat­ing monogamy [cou­ples com­peted to tie the knot live on his Love Me Do in the late Nineties] while I was hav­ing an af­fair, for God’s sake.’

Richie has five chil­dren – Shane Jr, 28, Jake, 24, Macken­zie Blue, 11, Lolita Bell, nine, and Ro­manySkye An­gel Shel­ley, six. ‘There’s a big old gap there,’ he notes. Since 2007, he has been mar­ried to Christie God­dard, 15 years his ju­nior. A ca­sual com­ment to her slightly in­se­cure, and oc­ca­sion­ally way­ward hus­band, in­spired a lyric on A Coun­try Soul.

‘I’d put on a bit of weight, eat­ing late at night when I was film­ing

Benidorm,’ Richie ac­knowl­edges. ‘She men­tioned it and I got a bit sen­si­tive and said, “What? Don’t you fancy me any more?”

‘She went, “Oh, shut up! You know all I want is you.” I thought, “There’s some­thing there.” ’

Richie com­pleted the com­po­si­tion, Shut Up (‘Cause All I Want Is You), with the help of his mu­si­cian son Jake Roche, whose band Rix­ton share a man­ager, Scooter Braun, with Justin Bieber.

‘Jake is pally with Justin,’ says his dad. ‘Big mates with Ed Sheeran too, they’re very close.’

Jake’s fa­cil­ity with su­per­star­dom comes from his fa­ther’s ease in celebrity com­pany. ‘I’ve met them all,’ Richie croons. ‘And they’re all just hu­man be­ings.’

Richie was raised in a women’s refuge in north-west Lon­don, but re­cently re­vis­ited his fam­ily’s home­land for the film­ing of Kat & Al­fie: Red­wa­ter, the

noir-ish drama cen­tred around EastEn­ders’ star-crossed cou­ple. This reac­quain­tance with his roots par­tially in­spired Richie to re­tool Nik Ker­shaw’s I Won’t

Let The Sun Go Down On Me as a hoe-down stom­per. ‘It’s got a real Pogues feel to it,’ he en­thuses.

The voice on A Coun­try Soul has gravel and grav­i­tas and the song choice is sound, can­nily cherry-pick­ing the best of the cur­rent crop of coun­try artists, from Ras­cal Flatts to Dar­ius Rucker.

De­spite lean­ing to­wards Amer­i­cana these days, Richie re­mains a fan of Bri­tish mu­sic and TV, although some shows give him the willies. ‘Have you seen Naked At­trac­tion?’ he splut­ters. ‘It’s Blind Date with your ***k out. What Cilla would’ve made of it, I don’t know but that’s what you’re up against now, so to speak.’

Richie recog­nises that pre­sent­ing his new project to the pub­lic may prove prob­lem­atic.

‘I know peo­ple will say “What’s a soap star do­ing singing coun­try songs?” And so they should. I know I would.’

He also has few il­lu­sions about be­ing ‘cool’.

‘I don’t know if I’ve ever been cool,’ he shrugs. ‘Although my kids thought I was re­ally cool when I first be­came Al­fie Moon and that was good enough for me.’ He grins, re­mem­ber­ing another great coun­try song. ‘Good enough e for me and Bobby McGee.’ In­ter­view by Adrian Deevoy ‘A Coun­try Soul’ is out on Novem­ber 10 on East West

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Below: Richie with Coleen Nolan at their wed­ding in Orlando, 1990. Below left: as Al­fie with Kat (Jessie Wal­lace) in EastEn­ders

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