EastEnders star Shane Richie has said he employed the help of his on-screen partner to become a drag queen and find his “inner RuPaul”.
The actor confided in Kat Slater star Jessie Wallace in order to prepare for his new role in high-heels and make-up.
Richie is playing a drag queen in musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, and could think of little else when working through tragic EastEnders storylines over Christmas.
The Alfie Moon actor said that he had experience of being around strippers and drag queens from his early days in comedy, and he felt empowered by getting into costume himself.
Speaking on The One Show he said: “I went to see the show three times, and I fell in love with it. I totally fell in love with the show.
“The only person I confided in was Jessie, who plays Kat. When I told her, she freaked.
“She loved it. All of a sudden she had ideas for make up.
“All of this time we’re playing this tragic storyline on EastEnders, I’m thinking ‘drag queen’. Christmas Day I get pushed down the stairs, I’m going ‘drag queen’.”
“I feel so empowered though, there’s something empowering about being just a few inches higher. I find my inner RuPaul.”
Richie said that his upcoming musical is a story of empowerment and the celebration of difference, particularly in the age of social media.
The actor felt the power of his character when preparing for the part, and remembers the confidence of drag queens from his early days performing.
He said: “I’ve played drag queens, my dad used to run pubs in London.
“When I was first starting out in stand-up, I toured with drag queens and strippers.”