How are you finding life at EastEnders?
"I am enjoying it. It's a lot of work to start off with because you're basically introducing yourself to the show, so it's been fast and furious, but it's been enjoyable. Everyone's been very welcoming and I'm full of respect for the actors in this, because there's very little rehearsal time and the performances they bring to the piece are extraordinary."
Were you a fan of EastEnders before you joined the show?
"I like EastEnders, yes. If I didn't respect the show, I wouldn't have gone into it. I'd been due to appear before in another role, and the reason that didn't happen was a timing issue, really - I had an album and then a rock tour to do."
Now that you're playing Eddie Moon, are you glad that the previous role didn't happen in hindsight?
"Well, I think we probably could have made something out of that character, who was Honey's father. But the character of Eddie has much more texture - there's a lot more weight to this character."
What can we expect from Eddie Moon?
"Eddie is a strong character. He's an ex-boxer, he has a chequered past, which will unfold. He's not a bad guy, but there's a massive rift between Eddie and his son Michael. We see Eddie for the first time in a café, where he spots the name of his nephew Alfie in a newspaper and decides to go to see him. When he arrives, he has no idea that Michael is around! Eddie and Michael haven't really spoken for years, but as a father does, Eddie reaches out and reaches out, trying to mend that."
"I think he is, yes. I don't want to speak for Steve John Shepherd, who plays Michael, but I think his character is a lot more manipulative. Maybe they were a bit more of a mirror image a few years back. I suspect that the seeds are the same, but the ages are different - with age comes a certain attitude for Eddie that's a bit more philosophical and not so hot-headed. I've been working with Steve a lot and I've actually just done a scene with him that was very powerful. They're very dramatic, the scenes between Michael and Eddie."
Could Eddie heal the rift with Michael eventually?
"Well, Eddie is reaching out and reaching out and he may eventually make some inroads, but Michael is the type of character who broods and has a lot on his mind, so we'll have to wait and see."
Eddie has quite a heroic entrance as he saves Amy from being run over, doesn't he?
"Yeah, Eddie gets knocked down by Carol as he's trying to save Amy from being run over by her. Afterwards, Eddie and Carol have a bit of a discussion about that - she reckons that she just nudged him, but he reckons that she hit him! We see Eddie get thrown up into the air in that scene. I've done my own stunts for films in the past, but I didn't do that one!"
Is Eddie a single man?
"He is, yes. He's separated from a wife, but we don't know about her yet. What we do know is that the two newcomers who are coming in, Tyler and Anthony, are Michael's half-brothers, so there's been two different relationships there. It's an enormous family tree to get used to! Once Eddie starts settling in on the Square, we may also see a bit of a spark between Eddie and Carol."
"Yes, but I've only worked with Tony so far, as Tyler arrives first. I'm trying to make him feel comfortable, because it's an extraordinary thing to come into as a young actor, but he's doing brilliantly. Shane Richie and I have both been taking care of him. I've met Matt too, and we're all having a good laugh."
How does EastEnders compare to projects that you've done in the past?
"As I say, I am enjoying it. I've never done anything like this type of work before as when you're doing a film you have a lot of time, when you're doing a stage show you have rehearsals, but here you don't really know what you're doing until a day before - and then you do it! But I suppose the way that it's so fast is part of the reason why I'm enjoying it. It's a great adventure for me - it's something different."
Have you enjoyed working with the EastEnders cast?
"It's daunting, isn't it? Some of the cast have been here for more than 20 years, so it's like coming into a new school. But they've been tremendously respectful and very welcoming. Jake Wood, who plays Max, has been my mentor. He advised me that when I have free time, I should look over the lines in my dressing room and things like that. I haven't worked with any of the cast before as it's a world that I haven't been involved in, but that's what makes it quite interesting for me. And since I've started, I've worked with almost everyone in the cast now. I'm just about to do a little scene with June Brown, which I'm looking forward to!"
What's the most challenging part of working on the show?
"It's important to me that Eddie is a character and it's not David Essex. I suppose because I have such a track record, it may be difficult for people to see that it's not David Essex and it is Eddie - that's the main challenge. But fans that I have already seem thrilled that I'm joining the show as it means they can watch me on TV every night!"
How long will you be sticking around in EastEnders for?
"I finish filming in August as I'll be doing a tour with the play All the Fun of the Fair. I'm not sure what will happen after that - we've been having some chats to see where it's going and if Eddie can come back. There's talk of All the Fun of the Fair becoming a film next year, which would be good, and I'm also supposed to be doing another film about boxing. So there is a lot going on but I'm here and I'm enjoying myself. I'll be on-screen until the autumn."
David Essex's first EastEnders episode airs this Friday at 8pm on BBC One. Eddie then makes his arrival in Walford on Monday, June 6.
> Want to know more about Eddie's first week in Walford? Browse through our EastEnders spoiler section for all the details.