Shane Richie has shared an insight into the two weeks he spent sleeping rough, before his EastEnders role propelled him to household-name status.
Currently braving the wet and the wind on I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here!, the 58-year-old is best known for playing Alfie Moon on the Square.
But prior to fame, Shane quit his job at a holiday park to make the move south.
This brought him to Plymouth, where the promise of a gig at a nightclub fell through.
Jobless teenage Shane was forced to sleep rough on the streets and rely 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 pal he’d made was able to loan a hand, 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.
The character was known for his fiery marriage with Jessie Wallace’s Kat.
Shane briefly reprised the role in 2010, two episodes on from Kat’s return.
The soap legend opened up to Victoria Derbyshire around the camp fire during last night’s show, explaining how EastEnders had lifted him out of bankruptcy.
After his agent told him casting agents didn’t think he was right for the part, but after getting a call back, Shane’s phone rang again.
“The phone goes,” he told Victoria, “and it’s my manager.
“He goes, ‘EastEnders want you.'”
Shane added: “I started getting teary and he 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.”
*I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! airs this evening on ITV at 9pm.