Kat and Alfie: Redwater (BBC-1 2017, Shane Ritchie, Jessie Wallace)

In this spin off from Eastenders, Kathleen (Jessie Wallace), Alfie (Shane Ritchie) and Tommy (Henry Proctor) arrive in Redwater, where celebrations are in full flow for 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 and not to get her hopes up. But this is Kat Slater, not known for caution, and the inhabitants tongues start wagging and conspiracy theories form, as they wonder if The Moons really are visiting just for a holiday…

As the celebrations spill into the local pub, Kathleen finds an ally in Lance (Ian McElhinney). He’s been in Redwater forever, seems to know everyone and everything. 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 her long-lost son, she ruffles feathers with Andrew’s mother Roisin at their family farm, further fuelling the rumour mill – until Agnes intercepts and sends Kathleen politely on her way. Alfie once again has to play peacekeeper, pulling Kathleen into line and making peace with the locals, allowing the dust to settle.

Distracted by her quest, Kat fails to notice that Alfie is hiding his failing health from her.

Introduction by Executive Producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins.

Back in 2015, while I was Executive Producer of EastEnders, we had taken Kat and Alfie out of the Vic and on a new trajectory as a couple.
Their marriage was back on track (yet again), Kat had given birth to twins and they needed more story as a couple. Happy ordinary lives are great to live, less great to watch. And Kat was going round in a cycle of bad self-worth every few years, all down to the sexual abuse she suffered as a teenager from her Uncle Harry. We decided we wanted to show how Kat is a survivor and we felt it was time Kat could move on from that darkness to the next stage of her life. Taking her back to Kathleen, the girl she was before that terrible abuse.

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It was then that Alex Lamb, our Story Producer, pitched the story of Kat’s lost son. That when Kat gave birth, 13 years old, drunk and suicidal, she had given birth not just to Zoe, but to twins. Passed out during the birth, her family – who had onscreen already kept Zoe’s true parentage a deeply buried family secret – buried this secret even deeper. The search for Kat’s missing son would give her a new purpose, and alongside Alfie’s brain tumour discovery, it really felt as if whole new realms of storytelling were available for Kat and Alfie.

But those stories needed scale. And Kat’s search for her son couldn’t just be limited to the confines of Albert Square and a couple of location scenes. We considered it as a special EastEnders week away, which the show used to do fairly regularly – and we pitched to Ben Stephenson this special week of EastEnders set in Spain. We knew that the Slaters had frequently holidayed in Spain so it felt obvious. But as Ben and I were speaking, we realised that there was so much to tell even just for that week. In fact enough for a series of its own. Kat and Alfie are such beloved, rounded, classic EastEnders characters, they could work in a whole new universe – and other characters and their stories could be created around them.

Something still didn’t sit right and that was Spain. It was obvious – too obvious. We wanted this to be fresh, different and to have soul. It was while I was on holiday in New Orleans that I came up with the idea to set this new drama in Ireland. It was St Patrick’s Day and there were huge parades through the city, everyone was drinking in the sunshine… and everyone was claiming to be Irish. Ireland hasn’t been seen in a big mainstream television way since Ballykissangel in the 90s – and in the Slater family biographies they say that the Slaters’ origins were in Ireland. Shane Richie and Jessie Wallace are both from big Irish families, as am I. Ireland felt right.

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After some discussions with different writers, we brought producer Vicky Wharton onto the project. Vicky has a brilliant story head, is utterly tenacious and is an extremely talented producer who grabbed the Redwater reins tightly. Soon, Matthew Graham was on board to write episode one and oversee the storylines for the other five episodes, written by Julie Dixon, Lauren Klee and Matthew Barry. Vicky brought Danish director Jesper Neilsen on and he was joined by Karl Nielson, who helmed the EastEnders Live Week in 2015. Soon, scripts were coming in and Vicky was driving around Ireland with BBC Production Executive Christine Healy to find the village that would be our Redwater – and setting up a whole new production team over in Ireland.

Filming began around the beautiful seaside town of Dunmore East last summer with a talented, hard-working Irish crew and a cast of Irish acting royalty. It’s become a cliche to say that the cast and crew on a show become a little family – but this happened and we hope that the love we all have for Redwater shows through on the screen.

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.

Jessie Wallace as Kathleen
Shane Ritchie as Alfie
Henry Proctor as Tommy
Maria Doyle Kennedy as Roison
Stephen Hogan as Padraig
Susan Ateh as Garda Bernie
Ian McElhinney as Lance

key behind the scenes crew
Dominic Treadwell-Collins as Executive Producer
Matthew Graham as Writer
Julie Dixon as Writer
Lauren Klee as Writer
Matthew Barry as Writer
Jesper Neilsen as Director
Kerl Nielson as Director

show type

broadcast from
Thursday 18 May 2017 at 8.00pm
6×60 minute episodes

network and production companies

Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.