EastEnders star Jessie Wallace has said it is "weird" returning to the soap without Shane Richie.

Wallace will soon be making her EastEnders comeback after leaving the soap in January 2016, but her character Kat Slater won't be back with her on-screen husband Alfie, who was played by Shane Richie.

Admitting that it feels "weird" to be back in Albert Square without her longtime co-star, Walace told the Radio Times, "I'm sure he's busy doing other stuff. I'm not sure what the writers have in store. What I'd like though is for Kat to be single for a while and for her to spend more time with the family."

Kat and Alfie were last seen in the EastEnders spin-off Redwater last year, which saw the pair go to Ireland in search of her long-lost son.

In the closing scenes of the series, Kat was cut to ribbons by the propeller of a boat she had fallen from, turning the water red with blood, while doctors battled for Alfie's life in an operating theatre.

Kat and Alfie

It was confirmed in December that Kat, along with her grandmother Mo Harris (Laila Morse) and her sister Jean Slater (Gillian Wright) would be returning to Walford in spring 2018.

Wallace, who has played the role of Kat on and off since 2000, promised that viewers will see the Slaters going back to their roots and being "scallywags".

Asked about the fan reaction to the Slater family's return, she said: "I'm hoping it'll be good - I don't want to walk through Sainsbury's and get a fish slung in my face."

Wallace and Richie together at the BAFTA Television Awards

She added: "I certainly haven't stopped smiling since I started filming. It really does feel like coming home."

While Kat will be returning with Mo and Jean, Wallace would love if her on-screen daughter Zoe, who was played by Michelle Ryan, was also coming back to Walford.

"That would make for a brilliant storyline," Wallace said.

Ryan left the drama in 2005 after five years, and has previously said she has no plans to reprise the role.

EastEnders continues on RTÉ One at 7.30pm on Tuesday.

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