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EastEnders welcomes an 'Ilfracombe surfer'

By This is NorthDevon  |  Posted: April 30, 2009

DOCTOR WHO?: EastEnders' new doctor Al Jenkins is played byAdam Croasdell. Picture: BBC Publicity

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A SURFING doctor from Ilfracombe is to become a new star in BBC's top soap EastEnders.

But don't worry if you don't recognise Dr Al Jenkins — because his North Devon links are purely fictitious.

The doctor is played by Adam Croasdell and makes his first appearance on television screens tomorrow night.

To establish his surfing credentials he will arrive in Albert Square in a yellow VW Beetle, with his board strapped to the roof.

Dr Al is likely to be setting pulses racing among his female patients, especially Tanya.

But the men, including Minty and Gary, are a bit more prickly and see him as a potential threat.

Croasdell, who has previously appeared in The Chase and Holby City said: "Al is single and he likes to mingle."

In the soap's plot the character arrives from Ilfracombe to see his mother, who lives in the area and has arthritis.

He also has a friend in the Square in Dot Branning, who knew him as a boy.

The BBC reveals the family had lived in Albert Square when Al was a boy, but then moved away to Devon.

So Al has been brought up in sunny North Devon and is a bit of a surfer who loves the great outdoors. But the BBC's script writers are keeping quiet about the good doctor's past in Ilfracombe. Spokeswoman Katy Shelton said: "Unfortunately we don't tend to give out detail on characters' backgrounds because it can spoil future story lines, so we have to keep his past under wraps for the time being."

In real life North Devon pro surfer and Roxy model Sophie Hellyer was a bit dubious about the character taking his board to Walford. She said: "There's a tube up there, but I don't think he'll be able to surf it."

And Helen Blackburn, who works at the Genesis surf shop in Ilfracombe's St James' Place, said: "This is really great for Ilfracombe, to have such a high profile mention in EastEnders.

"Ilfracombe has a huge water sports culture and the town is definitely on the up, with people like Damien Hirst raising the profile."

Strangely it's not the first time EastEnders scriptwriters have favoured North Devon with a reference.

Previously, tortured Little Mo escaped to run a cafe in Barnstaple, to forget her painful past with the wicked wife-beater Trevor.

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    American Girl in the UK, Glasgow  |  May 14 2009, 12:23PM

    Nothing to do with the article, just a note to Sue in defence of Wordichap. I know him personally, and he is certainly NOT a "glass-half-empty" fellow. He's the type of bloke who, if you hand him a dirty scrap of cloth, says, "Thank you! Just think of the beautiful quilt I can make with this!" I've never been to Ilfracombe, but I have lived in many places in the western world, mostly in the US. It's a little frightening to see what has become of some of America's most legendary places. I lived for a few years in West Virginia, and I hope to never go back. There's nothing left of the country roads about which John Denver rhapsodised--just greasy rivers, unkempt trailer parks, and unwelcoming locals (think "League of Gentlemen", but with rifles). Then there's New Jersey. I lived there, too, and though I liked it quite a bit more than West Virginia, it isn't the New Jersey that Bruce Springsteen immortalised. Asbury Park, where Bruce hails from, is a dead town. Nothing there but a few run-down pubs where the bartenders made crude comments about my legs while my poor mother sat right next to me turning a shade of crimson I've never seen before or since. Texas is no longer the home of cowboys. Houston is basically one big shopping mall. Of course, there are some cities that never change. New York will always be New York, and even 9/11 couldn't change that, though it tried. Philadelphia will always be one of my favourite cities, and if they filmed "Rocky" today, it would still look the same (not that it's my favourite film). I suppose we learn to take the good with the bad. Rather than say, "This glass is half full," or "This glass is half empty," I prefer to say, "There's something in this glass! I'd better find out what it is before I take a drink." Just an American perspective. I hope nobody objects.

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    local, Pilton  |  May 01 2009, 9:37PM

    Loved the fact that the new Doctor had his surf board on his roof rack the wrong way (nose pointing up) A few nasty crease in that one i should imagion!! Great bit of research BBC!! Still all good fun!

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    Carol, bideford  |  May 01 2009, 1:05PM

    Whatever happened to Dr Legg? I am a southern woman who moved here 27 years ago. I lived in Barnstaple, then Braunton and now Northam. Nowhere is as fabulous as north Devon, it has been and is a privilage to live here.

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    gareth, cheltenham  |  May 01 2009, 12:33PM

    i have had my last comment scrubbed by the "FREE PRESS". I WILL say Ilracombe needs many many millions of pounds thrown at it. My advice got to South Devon less Mancs and Scousers. Have lived in Barnstaple for 13 years leaving only 3 years ago, because of small minded locals and and the influx of rich 2nd home owners from LONDON, poor pay. I can assure you most viewers of Eastenders wont even know where Ilragloom is.

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    maybe its because i'm a londoner, that i love ilfracombe  |  May 01 2009, 11:02AM

    Having moved to Ilfracombe from London just over a year ago, I have to say that it really is a wonderful place. Yes it has some undesirables, yes it has some closed shops, and yes it has some unemployment...but really where doesn't. People visit Ilfracombe because it is set in the middle of outstanding natural beauty, it has fabulous restaurants, the harbour is very pretty, and most importantly it's unpretentious. come on folks let's stop the whining and go outside for some fresh air!!

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    luke, chivenor  |  May 01 2009, 10:05AM

    Richard, Beckenham i've lived here for 8 years, and not every person in ilfracombe is a druggie and signed on as you put it. Yeah i may be the age which doesnt have good publicity, but there are loads of good people here so dont just judge us by the few people that may be druggies

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    ex 'comber, Hackney - Knife crime capital  |  May 01 2009, 7:48AM

    To all those who have left negative comments, come stay with me for a week in Hackney east London - if you make it out alive youll be running back to combe with your tail between your legs wondering how you could have been so pathetic.

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    jo, Ilfradooom  |  May 01 2009, 7:01AM

    isn't it time the council looked at all the negative comments abouts Ilfradoom and did something. Why do they allow the town to be over run by the scum that other towns wont have? Why do they allow the drunks, addicts and thieves to walk the high street unhindered! Come on ITC DO SOMETHING!!!!

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    Local Pilton, Pilton  |  April 30 2009, 9:35PM

    That story is hilarious and i love Sophie's comment!! It will be intresting to see how the BBC portary a surfer from Devon?

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    Old fart at play, North Devon  |  April 30 2009, 8:14PM

    "I remember when Ilfracombe was full of big hotels, and was quite posh" Richard, Beckenham Crikey that must make you at least 100 years old Richard - is the secret to your longevity not living in Ilfracombe?