Eastenders star has taken a shine to stage partner Laura

Shane Richie and Laura Whitmore co-star in a new show in Dublin next week
Shane Richie and Laura Whitmore co-star in a new show in Dublin next week

EASTENDERS star Shane Richie claims Wicklow stunner Laura Whitmore is a ringer for many of his Irish cousins.

Shane – who plays lovable rogue Alfie Moon in the hit BBC soap – stars alongside Laura in the play Not Dead Enough, with the Bray lass making her Irish stage debut in Dublin next week.

“I’m happily married, but she’s an attractive lady,” he says when asked about his gorgeous co-star. 

“Funny enough, if you didn’t know she was Irish, because I come from a big Irish family, she looks like most of my cousins. We’re a gorgeous family!

“My mum is from Coolock, my dad’s from Whitehall [both in Dublin] and I’ve been to Ireland loads of times. My dad’s sadly not living, my mum lives out in Wembley, but all her family and her sisters still live in Dublin.

“I love Irish folk music, especially Christy Moore. There’s a great channel called Keep It Country. You watch it and they’ve got some real stuff you wouldn’t hear on the radio and I love it.

“There’s some real folky crap, everyone singing and walking through a meadow, ‘her eyes shone like diamonds’, but there’s some other great stuff happening in the Irish music scene.”

While Laura may be known for her TV presenting work on the likes of I’m a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! and MTV, her acting stint in Peter James’ Not Dead Enough has been getting rave review in the U.K.

The Newcastle Journal claims Laura and Shane have the “stand-out performances” in the play, while the Daily Echo says Laura “captures the character completely” of mortician Cleo Moore.

“Laura plays Cleo, the pathologist and also my character’s love interest, so she pinches herself every night because she has to kiss me!” laughs Shane.

“She’s lovely. It’s a big ask for someone with very little experience as an actress to be thrown in at the deep end, but she’s holding her own. She’s doing what’s asked of her.

"She is a great company member, she is taking it very seriously and she’s making great waves for herself as an actress.

“The play is about three murders, one suspect and no proof. It’s a dark psychological thriller.

“It’s an acquired taste I find, thrillers like this, so if you’re a fan of that genre you’re going to really like it, but if you’re expecting a musical with lots of gags, you might want to stay away

“It’s very dark, deals with rape, murder, serial killers and then we finish at the end on a song.”

Shane adds: “I was trying to fit this into my schedule and was trying to move stuff in my diary. I finish in Dublin, I can’t do the whole tour, then Bill Ward [from Emmerdale] takes over for the rest of the tour, so I’m glad I get to do it in Dublin for a couple of nights.”

Shane and Jessie Wallace (Kat) were also filming lately in Ireland for the EastEnders spin-off show Redwater, in which the couple come here to find their long-lost son.

“Redwater is very dark, it’s a very different side of Kat and Alfie that people are going to see,” he explains. 

“Obviously Kat and Alfie had their dark times in EastEnders, but this is different, it’s like telly for grown-ups.

“This is to do with Alfie’s brain tumour and it’s to do with religion. It’s very thought-provoking and it is of course set in Ireland

“We were down in Dunmore East in Co. Waterford and I loved it. I had the best time. It’s very rare that I get teary when I’m leaving somewhere, but when I was saying goodbye to people I was genuinely sad. 

“We had a great crew. The locals that came out in Dunmore East and supported the show were incredible. Not just there, we were also filming near Dublin.”

And Shane says he has no idea if Alfie will return to EastEnders.

“You will see how the story pans out in Redwater, and at the moment I’ve no plans to go back to EastEnders,” he says.

“I’m in the fortunate position that they’ve not killed me off and if I get the phone call I’d love to go back and do another stint.”

Not Dead Enough is in Dublin’s Bord Gáis Theatre from April 18-22