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Shane Richie, 56, spent two weeks sleeping on the streets of Plymouth just before landing his starring role in EastEnders. The actor is currently appearing in I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! and has spoken openly with his fellow campmates about the ordeal he went through before finding fame in the BBC One soap.
I was too proud
Prior to becoming a household name, Shane quit his job at a holiday park to make the move south.
He ended up living in Plymouth, where the promise of a gig at a nightclub fell through.
Finding himself jobless, teenage Shane slept rough on the streets and relied on the kindness of strangers.
He wrote in his 2003 autobiography Rags To Richie: “I was too proud to ask my parents or anyone else for help.
“I had my jeans, a shirt and a jumper and an old parka-jacket and I stayed for a couple of weeks on this bench under a tree.
“During the day I’d beg at the railway station although I never got very far.
“I’d ask for five pence for a cup of tea but I’d always do it with a smile on my face and the combination of that and my London accent meant people thought I was always taking the mick.
“But what had started out as a laugh was no longer funny. I was cold, hungry, dirty, tired and starting to smell.”
A friend he made stepped in to help and Shane went on to win castings in a number of stage shows.
In 2002, Shane’s Alfie made his EastEnders debut and played him for three years until 2005.
Shane revealed that he auditioned for the soap several times, after initially being rejected by the programme.
He divulged to Victoria Derbyshire in the I’m A Celebrity camp: “So I kept coming back but still no no idea what was going on.
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“So we go on holiday, I’m bankrupt because of this film I’d invested in, I’ve got nothing, I’m selling the house, no work.
“The phone goes and it’s my manager and he goes EastEnders want you.”
After landing the role, Shane was overcome with emotion and even broke down in tears over his lucky break.
“I started getting teary and he [the producer] told me about this character called Alfie Moon and in my first episode.
“I’d be coming in and taking over The Queen Vic, I started crying,” he added.
Victoria admitted that she was a big fan of the show, and loved watching his onscreen relationship with Jessie Wallace who played Kat Slater.
Talking in the Telegraph, Victoria said “Alfie Moon in EastEnders was absolutely iconic. Alfie and Kat as a couple, the love story that played out for months and months was just superb.”
I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! continues tonight at 9.15pm on ITV.
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