Former EastEnders star Shane Richie has pledged his commitment to music after releasing his country-inspired album A Country Soul.
The actor and stand-up comedian, best known for portraying Alfie Moon in the BBC soap, told how he had gone “back to his roots” to create the record – a mix of covers and originals – and now plans to put more focus into his career in music.
More than a decade since he made a first tentative step into mainstream music with 2003 single I’m Your Man, he explained that playing has been a key passion since his teenage years.
In a light-hearted joke hinting at his ex-wife, former singer Coleen Nolan, the 53-year-old father told the Press Association: “My album is called The Greatest Hits Of The Nolans … just kidding.”
He continued: “This is where my heart has been for a long time, in music, and to get it into a studio and to get it recorded has been a tick off the bucket list.
“It’s only now that the label has really picked up on it, opened their doors and gone: ‘Okay, let’s have a listen to what you’ve got then, TV’s Alfie Moon, you old fart’.
“So, it might seem new to some people but it’s not to me. If this is a success, I would love to tour the album or support another big country artist for a couple of months.”
Looking back on his 14-year stint on EastEnders – followed by a reprise of his role in spin-off series Kat and Alfie: Redwater – he described the job as his “first love” but said: “Now I am not in it any more, I can say this is what I do.”
He revealed that even then he was recruited to perform with his band during on-set summer cast parties.
A collection of songs inspired by his own life experience, A Country Soul features a collaboration with his son Jake Roche and a commentary on his previous battle with alcoholism in That Bottle Ain’t Your Friend.
“People my age will relate to it,” he said. “Those who have lived a life where, back in your 20s and 30s, it was all about getting drunk and bravado, having a drink when your relationship isn’t going well, having a drink when you are having a good time or a bad time.
“It becomes like a crutch.”
He added: “The whole album is about a mid-life crisis and I’m at an age now where I can talk about that.
“It’s the sort of stuff I was talking about in my stand-up a lot of the time: divorce, my behaviour in my 20s and 30s, and to be able to put them to a tune, I’ve absolutely loved it.”
Richie told how he is also balancing his music with his family life and wife Christie Goddard.
Following rumours that the pair are planning to adopt a child, he said: “It’s a long process and you’ve really got to set time for it. Maybe we will look into starting the process again next year.
“We have already put in our names in the hat for wanting to do … but because of my occupation, sometimes adoption agencies are reluctant, because I’m not always at home. Maybe I need to stop and go, ‘let’s take a year out’.”