Jessie Wallace has said she was relieved that her EastEnders character Kat Moon was not killed off after she left the soap, as she prepares to reprise the role in a spin off.
The actress started playing Kat in 2000 before leaving Walford in 2016, but will now reprise her famous role in Kat And Alfie: Redwater alongside co-star Shane Richie.
Asked if she would ever stop playing Kat, Jessie said: “I don’t know, it’s just nice that they’re still alive.
“When I left, I had this fear that Stacey would be in her house and her phone would ring and she’d pick it up and go, ‘Oh, Kat’s dead’.
“It’s nice that the door’s open and I love Kat, I’ve played her for a long time now and she’s a huge part of me.
“I don’t want to say goodbye to her really.”
Shane, who also left Albert Square in 2016 as the soap couple headed off for Spain, said soaps have changed over the years, becoming “more like fast food”.
Recalling the first time his alter ego locked lips with Kat, he said: “That (kiss) took a year. A year before Kat and Alfie kissed.
“That doesn’t kind of happen now in soap because the appetite has become voracious, it’s more like fast food.
“Back then, 14 to 15 years ago, millions tuned in and waited for I think 14 months for them to kiss.
“I think it is because the characters had such a slow burn.”
The actor, 53, said he and Jessie work so well together because they have “a shorthand”.
Jessie, 45, agreed: “We are like brother and sister. We argue, then we won’t talk for a day, and then we’re talking again, and he makes me laugh all the time.
“We just know each other really well as friends off-screen as well as actors. And we can tell each other what we’re thinking, we can tell the truth to each other.”
Shane said: “We’ve got each others’ backs, with all the personal stuff over the years. Some of it has been well documented, some of it thankfully hasn’t!”
Kat And Alfie: Redwater sees the Moons heading to Ireland to track down the son Kat gave up for adoption when she was just 14.
Jessie said Kat might look a little different than she did in EastEnders.
“The leopard print and the red lipstick and the heels, completely flipped it over and went bohemian,” she said.
“Kat still has a leopard print bangle.
“You do start to play the character differently because you start to pull it back, whereas if you’re dressed brassy, then you’re going to be brassy.”
Redwater begins on BBC1 on May 18.