RTÉ One viewers will be able to catch up with EastEnders‘ Kat and Alfie Moon tonight, but BBC One viewers have a four day wait to see the first episode of the drama.
The first episode of six opens with a scene set more than 20 years in the past featuring a tragedy at sea before the action jumps to the present day and the Moons’ arrival in Redwater (Dunmore East doubles up as the picturesque Irish harbour village) to find Kat’s long-lost son.
“We’ve created a companion character piece to EastEnders, a whole new world of secrets and lies and a new cast of characters that we hope viewers will take to their hearts, as much as they have Kat and Alfie.” – Producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins
The background to the plot as established in EastEnders is that a 13-year-old Kat fell pregnant after being raped by her uncle Harry. Kat passed out during parturition allowing her baby boy – Zoe’s twin brother – to be taken away without her having any knowledge of his existence until a nun who had been involved revealed the truth to her last year.
“Kat wants to find her son. She didn’t realise that she had another child when Zoe was born, and 32 years later she learns that she also had a son, a twin brother to Zoe. She finds out exactly where he is and she goes to find him. She’s at a point where she wants peace and to settle down, with no more drama in her life. – Jessie Wallace who plays Kat
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Kathleen (Jessie Wallace), Alfie (Shane Richie) and Tommy (Henry Proctor) turn up in Redwater amidst a lively annual fundraiser, that pitches them into the heart of the community. Despite promising Alfie that she will keep a low-profile Kathleen can’t rest, and is already on the hunt for her son.
Andrew (Peter Campion), son of Roisin (Maria Doyle Kennedy) and Padraig (Stephen Hogan) and wife of local Garda Bernie (Susan Ateh) seems the perfect fit. Could she have found him so soon? Alfie urges caution but Kat continues to get carried away.
“When Kat and Alfie arrive it’s instantly a mysterious place. It reminds me a bit of the film Under Milk Wood – it’s got those dark tones to it and also a bit like The Wickerman [1970s horror] where they’re in this strange environment, a kind of place they’ve never been before and they’re not made welcome. They’re treated like outsiders and feel like a fishes out of water.When you’re shooting a drama like EastEnders it is such a fast turnaround, that you’re filming about 26 scenes a day. Whereas here you can spend a whole day on one scene and concentrate on another level of detail. Dunmore East is a little jewel that I’d never heard of. Every corner you turn there’s something beautiful, with stunning beaches, and the people here are so friendly and welcoming.” – Jessie Wallace
Meanwhile, the Moons arrival has set tongues wagging amongst the locals, some of whom wonder if they’re really on holiday. As the celebrations spill into the local pub, Kathleen finds an ally in deep-rooted Redwater resident Lance (Ian McElhinney). Life and soul of the party Kathleen is in danger of exposing her identity and her secret.
As Kathleen relentlessly pursues her quest for confirmation that Andrew is who she believes he is, she ruffles feathers with his mother Roisin at the family’s farm, further fuelling the rumour mill – until Agnes (Fionnula Flanagan) intercepts and sends Kathleen politely on her way. Distracted by her quest, Kat fails to notice that Alfie is hiding his failing health from her.
“It came about in 2015. Jessie and I were approached by the BBC and the executive producer [of EastEnders, Dominic Treadwell-Collins] at the time. There had been a whisper about a one-off episode in Spain, so we thought it would be that. Initially it was, and then during a meeting, Dominic said: “Actually, we’re not going to take you to Spain.” He’d had an epiphany and decided that we should take Kat and Alfie to Ireland. I couldn’t see the link until Kat’s storyline where we learn that years ago, her boy twin was adopted by a family in Ireland. So this story evolved while our characters were still in EastEnders.
“There’s very much a thriller element tone to it. Big secrets go with it, which I hope will keep the audience tuning in. Alfie’s journey is to help his wife find her son, but also to have a break from Spain. They’re having problems with the bar out there, but at the same time Alfie has his own dark secret which he’s keeping from Kat.
“I’m from a big Irish family – my real surname is Roche. My Dad used to run Irish clubs in London – I was known at school as a second hand paddy. Now I’ve spent the last three or four months here it really does feel like home.” – Shane Richie who plays Alfie