For 21 years, EastEnders icon Shane Richie has been delighting fans with his portrayal of mild mannered barman Alfie Moon, with legions of viewers always keen to follow the characters often lighthearted antics.
Yet in the coming days, even kind hearted and optimistic Alfie will be hit by a gruelling bombshell, as BBC bosses have revealed the character will be undertaking a hard hitting and poignant prostate cancer storyline.
Revealing the news this week, the BBC said the storyline will “followAlfieand those around him as he discovers and comes to terms with his diagnosis” and has been working with the support of Prostate Cancer UK and Macmillan Cancer Support to ensure it is an “authentic story”.
Speaking about the upcoming storyline, EastEnders executive producer Chris Clenshaw said: “When we first embarked on this storyline we knew it was imperative that we worked alongside Prostate Cancer UK and Macmillan Cancer Support to take on and accurately portray such an emotional and pivotal storyline for Alfie, and one that many viewers may relate to.
“Shane has thoughtfully portrayed the realities of being diagnosed with prostate cancer with grace and understanding.
“We hope that this storyline resonates with the audience and that we represent it as sensitively, and as accurately, as possible.”
Although the news of the serious storyline may come as a shock to more recent viewers who are used to a more jovial Alfie on screen, it is actually just one of several memorable storylines the character has been involved in over the years.
From his very first introduction as a fare-dodging train passenger and committing identity fraud to work at the the Queen Vic right through to undergoing surgery for a brain tumour – there’s never been any shortage of drama in the Londoner’s life.
So what exactly are some of Alfie’s standout storylines over the years?
Alfie’s very first appearance came in 2002, when the charming but dodgy dealing newcomer arrived on our screens having been ejected from Walford East tube station for fare evasion!
He then proceeded to con his new neighbours, including market trader Winston into refunding him for a video he had actually stolen, while also convincing Martin Fowler to give him some fruit for free.
Charming the locals with his easy going nature and friendly smile, Alfie soon befriended many of the residents and even later snuck behind the bar at the Queen Vic to help himself to a drink, only to be caught redhanded by landlady Peggy Mitchell.
Yet in a surprising twist, Peggy mistakenly believed him to be new barman Chris Wright, who had been sent by an agency to help with staffing issues at the iconic pub – something which Alfie failed to correct her about.
Instead, he fully embraced the lie and began living under Chris’ stolen identity, even moving into the pub with his family while pocketing a wage meant for someone else.
Eventually however, his crime was rumbled and he was promptly sacked on the spot for his dishonesty.
Before leaving Alfie stole money from the till and prepared to flee, but later reconsidered his actions and left the money on Peggy’s doorstep.
Seeing that he was a good man at heart, Peggy then agreed to give him a second chance and allowed him to legitimately take on a job at the pub, this time using his own identity.
Kat Slater romance
By far one of Alfie’s biggest storylines however, has to be his on-off relationship with barmaid Kat Slater over the years.
The couple first noticed sparks flying while working alongside each other at the Queen Vic, with Kat the first to make a move as she declared her love one evening after they had closed up for the night.
Returning her feelings, the pair embarked on a relationship together, but just one week into their new found romance, Alfie revealed he wasn’t sure he could trust her, something which hurt Kat to the point she ended things on the spot.
Embarrassed and rejected by the lack of trust, Kat soon decided to place some distance between herself and Alfie and headed on a trip to New York to clear her head, yet in a shocking twist after just a few days away, she returned with local mobster Andy Hunter, with the pair soon revealing that they were engaged.
Knowing that Alfie still had feelings for Kat, Andy warned him to stay away from his girl and the wedding – something that broke the barman’s heart.
However, in another twist, Kat later visited Alfie’s grandma Nana Moon in hospital and confessed that she still loved Alfie, something the proud matriarch later relayed back to Alfie in the hopes of saving their relationship.
This prompted Alfie to storm the wedding and declare his love, an act which soon saw Kat leave Andy at the altar and choose him instead.
Not one to take the humiliation lightly, Andy soon swore vengeance on the couple and for a time even blackmailed Alfie into paying him money to stop him from releasing a sex tape of Kat to the world.
Throughout their time together Kat and Alfie experienced many ups and downs, including during their own planned wedding when it transpired Alfie was still actually married to his first wife Liza!
In addition, there were also plenty of turned heads along the way too, with Kat having slept with a total stranger after an argument, and Alfie forging a strong bond with Kat’s sister Little Mo during one of their periods of separation.
Despite the turbulence of their relationship, the couple did go on to have several children together, including twins Bert and Ernie, but sadly the romance wasn’t meant to be, with the two finally parting ways permanently after realising they were incompatible as a couple.
They have however, remained firm friends.
Another hard-hitting storyline that featured Alfie, came in 2010 when Kat Slater and Ronnie Mitchell both gave birth on the same day, but Ronnie's baby, James, tragically died.
Unwilling to accept this turn of events, Ronnie later sought out Kat in hospital and while her baby Tommy was left unattended, later swapped the infants and pretended that Kat herself had lost her baby.
Understandably Kat and Alfie were devastated by the loss of their baby, with their grief also extending to viewers at home who couldn’t quite get their heads around the bizarre plot line.
Although the storyline was originally planned to run for a lot longer than it did, after 6000 complaints were made by viewers to Ofcom, the broadcaster decided to end the storyline by having Ronnie come clean about her actions and reunited baby Tommy with his mum.
Brain tumour & Redwater
While Kat and Alfie were together, EastEnders ran a special spin-off series following the couple as they went on a trip to the Irish town of Redwater, to find Kat’s long lost son who had been growing up there.
Yet while the couple embarked on an emotional search, Alfie began to experience hallucinations and dizziness, later leading him to confess to a local priest that he was suffering from a brain tumour and was waiting for surgery.
Keeping this news from Kat, Alfie sought guidance from a priest, and in an especially poignant moment, asked to be baptised in case he died during the procedure.
Alfie did then later head into surgery without telling Kat about his condition – something which could even have had drastic consequences when he flatlined on the table and very nearly died.
Yet elsewhere in Ireland, Kat was suffering a disaster of her own, as she was caught up in a boating accident herself, something which could very nearly have cost her, her life.
Thankfully however, both characters made a full recovery and later returned to Walford.
In 2014, Alfie was at the centre of a deadly arson plot, in which the character set fire to the Slater household in the hopes of settling his financial woes with the insurance money.
Speaking about the plot at the time, Shane Richie revealed that Alfie had “resorted to desperate measures” to try and get on top of his spiralling debts, and thought he could fix everything with one very foolish act.
Starting a fire in the bin in the living room, Alfie had hoped it was cause smoke damage rather than create a huge inferno, yet in a heartbreaking twist the fire soon blazed out of control.
To make matters worse, Alfie had set the house alight unaware that Kat was still inside, but when he realised, he rushed back home to save her, just as the house exploded in one of the show’s most iconic catastrophes to date.
One night stand
After overcoming the odds, you’d think Alfie could catch a break, but alas, that appeared not to be the case, as he and Kat once again found themselves on rocky ground in 2018, when Alfie had taken the children and fled after arguing with his wife.
Living apart, Kat confessed to her pals in Walford that the two had decided to separate a revelation which later caused Hayley Slater, Kat’s cousin to seek out Alfie and the two shared a drunken one night stand together.
Hayley later fell pregnant from this tryst, prompting Alfie to urge her to have an abortion, which she later refused.
Instead, she gave birth to a daughter Cherry, named after Alfie’s mother, with the little one currently being raised in Spain alongside Hayley.
EastEnders continues Monday to Thursday at 7.30pm on BBC One and BBC iPlayer
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