EastEnders favourite Alfie Moon is to be diagnosed with prostate cancer in a hard-hitting new storyline for the soap.
Played by Shane Richie, the popular former landlord will this week undergo tests at the hospital after experiencing pains.
He initially thinks that the discomfort is due to the punch delivered by off the rails son Tommy, but he is then given worrying news by doctors.
Down the line, a diagnosis will be confirmed, triggering a difficult time ahead.
EastEnders is working alongside Prostate Cancer UK and Macmillan Cancer Support on the story which will play out long-term as Alfie adjusts with the diagnosis, and confides gradually in those around him.
In episodes this week, viewers will see him get a surprising level of support from frenemy Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden), who goes to the hospital with him.
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.’
Amy Rylance, Head of Improving Care, at Prostate Cancer UK shared: ‘It’s been a pleasure working alongside EastEnders on their prostate cancer storyline, and we salute the BBC for approaching Prostate Cancer UK to ensure the narrative is as close to real life as possible.
‘Every man’s experience of prostate cancer is unique, and it’s so important for viewers to be given accurate information about the disease.
‘It’s been a privilege to provide insight into Alfie Moon’s journey with prostate cancer, ensuring an authentic story is told every step of the way.
‘Introducing Shane to one of our supporters affected by prostate cancer gave him the opportunity to understand what it’s like to experience the disease first hand.’
Dany Bell, Macmillan Cancer Support’s Strategic Advisor for Treatment, Medicines and Genomic, added: ‘Storylines like Alfie’s play a vital role in helping to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer and the impact a cancer diagnosis can have on individuals and their families.
‘We also know that men can often find it difficult to talk about cancer, to protect the people around them or simply wanting to stay strong. We hope that seeing a character like Alfie go through this experience will help open up these vital conversations and highlight the array of support that’s out there.’
Shane has been back in his role as Alfie for one year, arriving back to try and win Kat Slater (Jessie Wallace) from Phil on their wedding day.
He also got himself into bother by losing a lot of Phil’s cash, and has enjoyed a friendship with Linda Carter (Kellie Bright).
Last year, ahead of reprising the role of Alfie, Shane reflected on the comedy side of his character, telling Metro.co.uk: ‘The drama only works on a show like this when you get the light and the shade and I’m happy to come in and bring the lightness.’
But now, the actor has a more serious story to tackle, and it’s one that he will undoubtedly be pleased to take on given his praise of show boss Chris.
He enthused to us in 2022: ‘EastEnders has changed now and I think it’s down to this man here [gestures Chris] because he’s grown up with this show, it’s in his DNA and he knows how people work.
‘I’ve come back and I feel like I’m part of something that’s so strong at the moment.
‘With all the cast there’s a real sense of camaraderie and it feels so positive right now. It feels like a touring production, all these actors and writers and producers, and we have access to each other’s lives.
‘It’s all down to this gentleman [Chris] that’s come along and said, “right this is not just about the actors or writers or producers or directors, everybody’s in this together”, and coming into that is a real buzz.
‘Everyone really does care about each other and the direction we’re going in now feels so strong.’
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