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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Lara Martin & Frances Kindon

EastEnders star Shane Richie and Coleen Nolan's marriage – from sweethearts to scandal

Shane Richie and Coleen Nolan were one of the hottest showbiz couples of the Nineties, with a marriage that spanned almost the entire decade.

But behind the scenes, their once-idyllic romance crumbled under the weight of EastEnders star Shane's infidelity, leaving Coleen heartbroken.

Both have spoken at length about the tumultuous and devastating ups and downs of their marriage, much like Shane's soap character Alfie Moon's on-off romance with Kat Slater.

Although Coleen and Shane have been over for over 20 years, Shane's alter-ego is set to be reunited with Kat as he will return to Albert Square in autumn.

Here, Mirror Online explores Shane and Coleen's romance and how love's young dream turned to disaster...

A fairytale beginning

Coleen and Shane met in 1986 and planned to wed in a big ceremony in 1990 but ended up calling it off and eloping to Florida amid fears their plans had become over the top.

Shane Richie and Coleen Nolan eloped in 1990 (Rex)

“Shane pulled me to one side and said, ‘I can’t do this. I feel like we’re just being told to turn up on the day and it’s nothing to do with us’ so we cancelled it all and eloped and didn’t tell anybody," said Coleen on Loose Women.

They went on to welcome two children: sons Jake, 28, and Shane Jr, 31, and had a blessing at a church when Coleen’s father fell ill a few years later.

The first hints of a problem

In an extract from her 2009 autobiography, published exclusively in the Mirror, Coleen wrote she had an inkling something was amiss when she attended an industry party for one of Shane’s musicals in 1996 and spied a brunette woman in the room.

Coleen suspected Shane was playing away, but she couldn't prove it (Hulton Archive)

“At the after-show party I can distinctly remember examining this one girl. There were loads of people there but she just stood out. She had really long dark hair and was wearing a skin-tight white dress,” recalled Coleen.

“Well, it must have been female intuition because that turned out to be the girl Shane had an affair with.”

In his own autobiography, Rags to Riches, Shane admitted cheating on Coleen with the dancer and actress in question, Claire Taylor.

Coleen and Shane pictured at the National TV Awards in 1997, two years before their marriage ended (Ken McKay / Rex Features)

He said: "I was lying so much that I couldn't remember which story I'd told to each of them. And I'd lie to cover up the lies."

"All consuming" paranoia as she searched for answers

Shane and Coleen welcomed sons Jake and Shane after tying the knot (Scope Features)

Coleen said she would visit Shane in Manchester where he was working but claimed she often felt sidelined and started to wonder what was going on.

“I started to think, ‘Why?’” she said, admitting her fears became an obsession.

“I did trust my gut so many times. It became all consuming,” she added. “It was 24 hours.”

In a "happier place" afterwards

The couple eventually split in 1999, and Coleen went on to marry musician Ray Fensome and have daughter Ciara, 19, but they divorced in 2018.

Coleen has since found love once more with Michael Jones after meeting on Tinder. The pair hit it off as their first date lasted six hours.

Shane is set to reprise his role as Alfie Moon in autumn (BBC)

Shane married actress Christie Goddard in 2007 and they have three children – Mackenzie Blue, 14, Lolita Bell, 12, and Romani-Skye Angel Shelley, nine.

And in 2012, Coleen told the Daily Star her divorce from Shane brought her peace.

“I’m in a much happier place now than when I was married to Shane – I don’t have to worry about what he gets up to any more," she said.

“You forgive something like that but you don’t ever forget."

Coleen has now found love with Michael (Ken McKay/ITV/REX/Shutterstock)

And for Shane's part, he admitted that his actions were beyond the pale.

He told The Guardian of the media coverage: "I was crucified, quite rightly. There's no excuse for a bloke cheating on his wife, much as I try to find one. What I did to Coleen was unforgivable and I could never apologise enough."

In the same chat, Shane also credited Coleen for keeping things amicable between them. Their divorce was settled out of court and Shane later attended the christening of her third child.

"I wish I could take credit for it, but Coleen instigated most of that. The only people who lost out were the lawyers. They were gutted," he said.

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