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Shane Richie, Scott Maslen and newcomer, Steve John Shepherd, about their thoughts on being EastEnders men…
First things first, though. Scott, are you missing the sequins after Strictly Come Dancing?
Scott: “Oh, I’m having a dreadful time: I’m having cold turkey! To be honest, I wasn’t having as much fun at the end as I was at the beginning because I was doing 19-hour days, seven days a week, so I was tripping out. I’m more upset that I couldn’t give it my all.”
Have you taught any of your moves to your co-stars?
Scott: “There’s no one here that’s capable – I’ll apply my standards to the people that have got the potential. Only joking!”
Shane:” I thought he was having an epileptic fit the other day when I was watching him.”
Steve, do you fancy a stint on Strictly…?
Steve: “No, it’s not on my list, but I have nothing but admiration for Scott. I watched it avidly and thought he was amazing.”
Back to EastEnders. Is Michael out to ruffle feathers now he’s back in Walford?
Steve: “He can be mercenary, certainly; he has a cruel streak in him, but there’s darkness and light to him, really. Some moments you can see him being really quite cruel and then the next he can be quite compassionate and thoughtful.”
How does his return impact on Jack and Alfie?
Scott: “Jack and Michael grew up together, they were muckers and they’ve got a similar sense of humour and know each other well.”
Shane: “Michael starts dipping his fingers into business and Alfie, at the moment, isn’t getting too involved. But I understand in the future that we’ve got more Moons coming in, so I think he’s laying down the foundations for a Moon takeover!”
Are there common traits in all Walford men?
Scott: “Everyone’s got a past; the nature of soap is that they’ve got to, otherwise it’d be boring.”
Shane: ”They tend to find themselves in and out of trouble most weeks. And they love the ladies. There’s an element of charm that the fellas have in common.”
Steve: ”Michael’s a charmer. He’s got his eye on all of the women.”
It’s often said that women have the best parts in soap. Do you feel that with characters like Jack, Alfie and now Michael, this is a time for the men to take centre stage?
Scott: “I’d hope so. I think there’s an opportunity there for the taking, so hopefully they’ll see there’s potential.”
Shane:” It’s interesting you say men because when I was here before, we had the boys – Spencer, Martin, Dennis. But now I’m back, there seems to be this thing of ‘We’re actually a bit bored with the boys now, we want men!’ So to be involved in that is nice.”
Steve: “I’m not sure; the stuff that I’ve been doing is really strong for the ladies, too. I think to have that balance is really important.”
Have the three of you had chance to hang out together, away from EastEnders?
Shane: “No, that may have happened if we didn’t have children. But on a show like this you get a lot of downtime where you’re just sitting around, and the other week we did a scene in a Ford Capri, so we were sat in this Capri for the best part of two hours, chatting away about kids and holidays.”
Steve: “Shane’s right, there’s not the time to get together off set. But they’ve both been really friendly and really accommodating.”
Scott: “And Steve and I have known each other for a long time, anyway. We used to model with the same agency back in the day; we did fashion shows together. I was always the joker, playing about, telling stories and having a laugh.”
Scott and Shane, you’ve both won ‘Sexiest Male’ awards in the past. Do you fear Steve may steal your thunder?
Scott: “I hope he does! It’s one of those that I’m not mad keen about. It’s nice that people vote for you, but I’d rather be getting the acting awards.”
Shane: “Well, I’m happy for anyone our age to win sexiest male; it’s a big shout-out to middle-aged men. I do love this whole sexy thing. My wife will fall about laughing when she sees me looking mean and moody with two lads who are both ex-models.”
Steve: “I think people tend to fall in love with the character, and if they fall in love with a duplicitous rogue then I’d be very surprised!”
Do any of you have any favourite actors, who you think would fit in perfectly in Walford?
Scott: “Gary Oldman; he’s one of my favourites, and Alan Ford who was in a lot of the Guy Ritchie films. Oh and Alex Walkinshaw who was my mate Smithy at The Bill. He’s a fantastic boy.”
Shane: “I’d love to see Terence Stamp come in as my uncle. And I’d like Pauline Collins to come in as my auntie; that’d be brilliant wouldn’t it?”
Finally, Scott, it was recently announced that Sam Womack is leaving EastEnders. How do you feel about that?
Scott: “We’ve been an item on the show for four years now and she’s one of my best mates; a friend of the family. It is sad, but she’s had a very hectic year or so, and it’s about time she had a little break to see what else she wants to do.”
Will it signal the end for Jack and Ronnie? We always wanted them to waltz off into the sunset…
Scott: “I’m not waltzing off anywhere!”