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