Shane Richie is returning to Walford as his favourite Alfie – “the guy who looked after his Nana Moon, wore his heart on his sleeve and tried to make light of everything”.
Richie told how he was enticed back to the role with the promise of playing “the old Alfie”.
He said: “I was playing a drag queen at the time and I got the phone call and he (executive producer Chris Clenshaw) sold it to me.
“He said he wanted the old Alfie. Over the years there have been different Alfies and my favourite Alfie is from 2002 to 2005 and that’s the Alfie we got back.
“Chris was instrumental in telling me the long-term story line with Alfie, the old Alfie, the guy who looked after his Nana Moon, wore his heart on his sleeve and tried to make light of everything but through his own innocence and naivety still gets it wrong.
“The drama only works on a show like this if you get the light and the shade – I’m happy to come in and bring the lightness.
“I am happy to come and play the joker because that means the drama is so much greater.”
He is set to return to TV screens on September 12, the day of Kat’s marriage to Phil Mitchell, played by Steve McFadden.
Executive producer Chris Clenshaw said: “I think it was inevitable. Phil and Kat are together. Alfie is the love of Kat’s life so we had to bring him back on their wedding day.
“He is the old Alfie, the lovable rogue. He makes a lot of mistakes but he always has good intentions.
“Even if we weren’t telling this story, I probably think I would have found a way to bring Alfie back. I’m very fond of Alfie, an iconic character. It’s 20 years this year.”
Alfie and Kat’s fiery relationship was at the centre of many major storylines but their union came to a sudden end in 2018 when it emerged that Alfie had secretly fathered a son with her cousin Hayley.
Moon decided to flee Walford in January 2019, making an enemy of Phil in the process.
Richie said: “20 years ago, the whole Kat and Alfie thing purely happened by accident.
“When I turned up 20 years ago, they were going to create a graduate story with Alfie and Peggy and then off-camera me and Jessie were having a right laugh and the writers saw this chemistry.
“Alfie is still burning the candle. He is trying to convince Kat that she feels the same. Myself and Jessie, when we work together, we have got a relationship.”
Moon first featured in EastEnders in November 2002 and has been at the heart of storylines about dementia, cot death and infidelity.