How Shane Richie went from Pontins entertainer to EastEnders soap star as he lands I'm A Celebrity gig

SHANE Richie is set to be the latest star set to take on the I'm A Celebrity 2020 camp.

But the actor, 56, has already gained fans across the country as everything from a TV presenter to playing loveable Alfie Moon in EastEnders.

Shane – born Shaun Roche in Harlesden, North West London – took his stage name from Lionel Richie.

He started on the acting path by studying at the National Youth Theatre's summer course at just the age of 15.

From there, he kicked off his entertainment career as a blue coat at the Isle of Wight's Pontins.

The star even had to forge a doctor's certificate to get accepted as he was too young.

The time was documented by Shane in his book Rags to Richie, where he claims to have slept with hundreds of women – and even taking cash for sex from bored housewives.

He told the Big Issue: "I decided to tear the a**e out of it on a holiday camp and learn to be an entertainer.

"I loved that life – you did sketch shows, sang with bands, danced, called bingo and had a great time.

"I'd make the same decision now."

After his stint in Pontins, he turned his natural charisma towards stand up comedy.

He said: "I had a stand-up routine and toured with hen and stag parties, on the road with drag acts and strippers.

"I worked the nightclub door before I was 18, turning people away if they weren't old enough, giggling my b******s off – and then going on stage, doing rude gag as people laughed at my baby face."

By the age of 26 – in 1990 – Shane was nominated as best new stand-up in the first British Comedy Awards.

This helped kickstart his TV career, with his first TV appearance being on the BBC show Up to Something! in the same year.

He then started hosting game shows, presenting kids quiz Run The Risk in 1992, then Win, Lose or Draw from 1994 until 1995.

Shane moved onto musicals and movies, starring in stage adaptations of Boogie Nights and Grease.

There was also low-budget British films like Dead Clean, Shoreditch and Silent Soul.

Shane then exploded onto the screens in 2002 with his most iconic role to date: as Queen Vic landlord Alfie Moon.

Joining alongside Hilda Braid as Nana Moon and Chris Parker as brother Spencer Moon, Alfie eventually fell for Kat Slater (Jessie Wallace).

He stayed on the soap until 2005, before making comebacks in 2010 to 2016 and 2018 to 2019.

In 2017, Shane and Jessie starred as their iconic EastEnders characters in spin-off show Redwater.

It followed the couple as they hunted down Kat Slater's long-lost son in Ireland.

From being a soap star he became a fixture on the pantomime circuit, playing Buttons in Cinderella, as well as starring in Scrooge: The Musical and Robin Hood.

The Sun revealed the dad-of-five has now agreed to take part in I'm A Celebrity and will go into the two-week quarantine before it starts next month.

An insider said: “ITV have always wanted Shane for the jungle but with panto not happening this year and other work opportunities less likely, he decided this was the time to take the plunge.

“Going to North Wales is less of a huge commitment than flying halfway across the world, too, so he jumped at the chance.

“He’s already being talked about by production as an early favourite as he’s such a likeable bloke and known to millions of soap fans.

“ITV are delighted they’ve managed to convince him to take part.”

This year’s I’m A Celebrity is being filmed in Gwrych Castle in Abergele, North Wales, rather than Murwillumbah, New South Wales, Australia, due to Covid.

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