Kat and Alfie: Redwater
An all-Irish cast join EastEnders’ Kat and Alfie for brand new BBC One drama series
Introduction by Dominic Treadwell-Collins, Executive Producer
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.
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.
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.
Welcome to Redwater.
May 8, 2017 4:59am ET by BBC One