HIS fellow EastEnders cast members may have got to sample Southend when they filmed here earlier this year, but poor Shane Richie was left manning the cobbles of Albert Square.

However, Friday saw Shane, who plays loveable rogue Alfie Moon in the popular soap, finally make it to the seaside to launch Aladdin, this year’s pantomime at the Cliffs Pavilion, Westcliff, which he’s starring in.

The classic pantomime will have a shorter run than usual, running from December 10 to 31, due to Shane’s filming commitments.

However, it’s still promising comedy, spectacular costumes, nasty villains and stunning sets.

Shane takes his role seriously. He says far from just being a celebrity name parachuted into the leading pair of boots, he’s been hard at work writing new gags and material for the part.

“I’m still kind of writing the script,” he said.

“We do have a script, but I’ve been writing gags and bits and pieces. I do know no two shows are going to be the same.”

He’s determined to put his mark on the role – and even has plans to rope in some of his Albert Square pals to come and help out.

“I’ve had a chat with some of the others,” he reveals. “So expect to see the Moon family onstage.

“They’ll all come down and support the show, and if I know they’re coming, I’ll drag them somehow into the adventure.”

Once the fun of the panto’s over it’s back to the Square for Shane, but he has plans to return to Southend in one or two other guises in the future.

He said: “I’m happy to be in EastEnders for as long as they want me. They’ve been kind enough to let me have the odd bit of time off to do some stand-up – I’ve been doing a few London clubs and I might do a tour next year.

“If it’s quiet for Alfie for a while I’ve also got my band, the Prelude. We might do some festivals next year – and we might try and do a gig in Southend somewhere over Christmas.”

Shane Richie stars in Aladdin at the Cliffs Pavilion, Station Road, Westcliff, from December 10 to December 31.

Tickets can be booked by calling: 01702 351135 or online at www.thecliffspavilion.co.uk