EastEnders star reveals REAL reason they missed out on playing Doctor Who

EastEnders logo Queen Vic
An EastEnders star was in the running to play Doctor Who. (Image credit: BBC)

EastEnders favourite Shane Richie revealed that he was once considered to play the Doctor in Doctor Who.

Shane, who is best known for playing Alfie Moon in EastEnders, said that he was approached to play the Doctor in the early 2000s, shortly after his first stint as Alfie Moon in the soap.

He told the Radio Times: "The deal was I’d go in [to EastEnders] for three months, see the reaction, and then they'd talk about renewing the contract.

"It took off, so I signed a three-year deal — but what happened in the meantime was the papers had said I was only going in for three months… and then someone said, 'We just want to know the availability for Shane Richie to play Doctor Who.'

"Of course, it wasn't the monster it is now, so I didn't think any more about it. But there was an availability check and there was some interest. I think my manager had a meeting about it. But I'd signed up to [play] Alfie for three years."

The role went to award-winning actor Christopher Eccleston instead, who was cast as the Ninth Doctor in the world-famous sci-fi series.

Alfie Moon by the Albert Square sign

Shane Richie is famous for playing Alfie Moon in EastEnders. (Image credit: BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron)

Although Shane never got the opportunity to play the titular Time Lord, he's managed to secure a different role in the Doctor Who universe. 

He is set to voice Drax, a Time Lord character in the new audio adventure Connections and he was quick to point out the similarities between Drax and his soap alter-ego Alfie Moon.

"I play a Time Lord — how cool is that? I am Drax. He's gone a bit astray. He's a wheeler-dealer, he's a law unto himself. He's in it for what he can get out of it. He has no cares about anyone else. But there's still something endearing about him. Imagine Alfie Moon but a Time Lord," he explained.

Earlier this year, Shane reprised his role as Alfie in EastEnders after faking his death in 2019 to escape debts. 

Alfie’s return caused a stir in the Square when he returned to win back his ex-wife Kat Slater (Jessie Wallace) and ruined her wedding to Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden) in the process.

EastEnders airs Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 7.30 pm on BBC One — see our TV Guide for full listings. You can also catch up on episodes on BBC iPlayer now. 

Grace Morris
Staff Writer

Grace is a digital writer with WhatToWatch.com, where she writes series guides, recaps and features for must-watch shows and delivers all the latest soap news and reactions. She graduated from Anglia Ruskin University in 2020 with a degree in Writing and Film Studies, which only made her love for creative writing, film and TV grow stronger.

You'll usually find her watching the drama unfold in the latest reality series or much-loved UK soaps (usually with chocolate by her side!). She's an expert in EastEnders, Emmerdale, Coronation Street and everything reality-related from Selling Sunset and Married At First Sight UK to 90 Day Fiancé UK. Plus Netflix megahit Virgin River!

Grace also likes to explore new places with her friends and family and, of course, watch and read about the latest films and TV series.