Eight of Billy Mitchell’s Lowest EastEnders’ Moments

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Oh Billy Mitchell. Despite originally being introduced to EastEnders as an abusive bully (more on that very soon), it didn’t take long for the runt of the iconic Mitchell family to become a firm favourite with viewers. Kind hearted and well meaning, Billy, expertly portrayed by Perry Fenwick, has been an endearing character on our TV screens for almost twenty years now and is showing no signs of leaving Walford any time soon. Generally portrayed as a loser who is often easy to manipulate, I think most viewers have always been fond of him because there’s something relatable about a character who is constantly unlucky, despite trying their hardest to be somebody in life, while remaining a good person who does their best for others at the same time.

After what felt like nearly eighteen years of solid bad luck, it’s seemed over the last while that things were finally turning around for Billy. He got back together with Honey, the mother of his two children and took over as the Manager of Les Coker’s Undertaker business and has, in a twist of fate became one of the more well adjusted and successful members of the Mitchell family. Unfortunately in the last few weeks it’s begun to be apparent that this good fortune isn’t going to last for him.  Recently it was revealed that his income has been severely hit due to his unwillingness to chase payment from clients and this led to him getting hit with a pretty hefty tax fine. As if financial issues that could bankrupt his business weren’t bad enough, over the last week or so things have got even worse for him, after his daughter, the adorable Janet, was ran over by a car on Halloween night and afterwards, well if you don’t know I’ll expand more on what happened at the end of this post.

Today, in honour of Billy Mitchell’s latest misfortunes, I thought it might be good fun to take a look at eight of the character’s lowest moments since he first landed on our screens back in 1998. Each moment is going to be in chronological order and between Billy being forced to steal from charity, to randomly being a creepy stalker for a few weeks, there’s a lot of negative moments to cover, so let’s get started with one of Billy’s lowest moments ever, the way he was introduced.

One: Billy The Abusive Uncle

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Originally intended to only appear on EastEnders for a four episode run, Billy was written into the show to begin with as a way to bring his nephew, the new heartthrob Jamie Mitchell, to the square, which is somewhat ironic since Jamie only lasted four years on the show, while Billy has now been around for well over a thousand episodes. Unfortunately Billy’s introduction involved him being a pretty reprehensible bully, who regularly abused Jamie by hitting him.

Perry Fenwick himself wasn’t a fan of Billy being an outright villain and fortunately thanks to some clever writing, EastEnders was able to slowly redeem him when he was introduced as a full time character in 1999. Revelations that Billy himself was how he was because he had been abused while growing up in a children’s home, along with his actions towards Lil Mo who was suffering domestic abuse from her husband Trevor Morgan, which were nothing short of heroic, helped mould Billy into the good natured character we know and love today. It’s just a shame that his character will always be that of somebody who did genuinely make the childhood of a troubled teen a miserable existence. Even though Billy has done a lot of good things since then, that’s always going to be part of his character and something that’s difficult to forgive.

Two: His Marriage To Little Mo Collapsing After Her Tragic Rape

As mentioned above, Billy did a lot of good things for Maureen Slater, that actually led to them having a pretty strong and stable marriage but sadly a tragic event happened that was too much for Billy to handle, that eventually led to their divorce. In what I remember as a really harrowing storyline, Little Mo got raped one night when she was alone in the Queen Vic and ended up conceiving a child with her rapist, the creepy Graham Foster.

It’s difficult to even wrap your head around the situation someone like Little Mo ended up in but the general consensus was that she deserved a lot of credit for having the strength to carry on with her pregnancy and have her child, despite how horrible a position she had been put into. Billy himself respected Little Mo for her choice but was unable to cope with being a father to a baby that wasn’t his and the marriage was ended which was a shame because I honestly assumed at the time that their marriage was strong enough to survive anything. Another element of the entire situation that is desperately sad, is that Graham Foster was only sentenced to eight years in prison, despite his past sexual offences and in the world of EastEnders probably went on to assault even more women. This is perhaps the most depressing storyline Billy has ever been involved in.

Three: Billy The Charity Thief 

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After Billy’s marriage to Little Mo collapsed, he was able to ultimately find temporary happiness again through his marriage to his second wife, the delightful Honey, who is still one of my favourite characters to this day. Despite initially struggling to raise their firstborn child Janet, who suffers from Down’s Syndrome, Billy and Honey had a mostly strong and love filled marriage that was only bolstered by the birth of their second child, a son called William. However, in what has been a recurring theme during his time on EastEnders, his happiness wasn’t to last and by the end of 2007 he was facing severe financial difficulties that left him unable to pay the rent for the flat he occupied with Honey, Janet and William.

Like all rational people suffering from money problems, instead of begging his wealthy family for help or getting a second job or something, he decided to steal money from a children’s charity, a reprehensible act that would propel any character into villain status, if they weren’t as pathetic and downtrodden as Billy. Obviously the scorn and displeasure he received from his own family and the community wasn’t punishment enough because it was only in 2008 that he lied to Honey about donating money to charity that he’d gotten from more questionable means. In Billy’s defence, he was trying to keep the money for honorable reasons but to have a supposedly likeable character, twice deprive charities of money within a year probably wasn’t the best of ideas.

Four: Billy The Coward

Before I go any further I do have to admit that my headline here is perhaps a little mean spirited. See in 2008, Billy hid in a toilet stall while his friend Jase, the father (biologically at the time) of the still popular Jay, was brutally murdered by some East End gangsters, after a criminal job gone wrong and even though he was portrayed pretty extensively onscreen as a coward, I’m not sure if there was anything he could have done to save Jase that wouldn’t have also cost him his own life. Of course Billy was far from heroic in this situation but it’s hard to imagine being in his shoes and even more difficult to imagine springing to action and potentially risking your own life as well.

Regardless of whether you believe Billy was in the right to hide or not, he was met with derision for his cowardly ways and did himself no favours when he allowed Jay to believe that he had done all he could to save Jase, instead of pocketing the money Jase earned during the job and hiding away. It’s undeniable that he suffered for his actions all the same, with a combination of his cowardice and his lies about donating Jase’s money to charity, costing him his marriage after Honey moved away with the two children to live with her father. 2007 and 2008 was such a bad period of time for Billy’s character that it’s almost a miracle that him and Honey are back together in 2017. How much they struggled to get there alone really makes me hope they don’t break them up again.

Five: Billy Loses His Guardianship Of Jay To Phil

I get my first low moment suggests that Billy shouldn’t be tasked with being a responsible guardian to anybody but after Jase died, Billy took Jay in and undeniably was a decent father figure to him. Desperate to atone for the cowardice that arguably cost Jase his life, Billy tried his best with Jay and I thought it was an endearing way of getting viewers back onside of a character who had done a lot of bad things over the last year or so. Sadly Billy and Jay being close wasn’t to last after I’m guessing some new writers, decided there was a gap in Phil Mitchell’s family that needed Jay and slowly over time begun to show him idolising Phil and eventually leaving Billy to live with him full time.

While I honestly have no regrets about Jay being amalgamated into Phil’s family, since that meant we were gifted with the close bond between Ben and Jay, it did make Billy seem weak and perhaps even worse, completely irrelevant. Jay quickly moved from one household to the other in what felt like no time at all and the whole thing just made Billy appear to be an unappealing afterthought. Writers have made an attempt to fix things by having Jay and Billy work together in the funeral parlour nowadays and they did live under the same roof as each other again for a while but they’ve never been as close as they were in the early days and the quick change in guardianship is almost fully to blame for this.

Six: Billy The Letter Thief 

I don’t know how much I can say about this storyline because it was one that was snuffed out almost immediately but since it’s considered up there in the most bizarre unresolved soap storylines of all time, I thought it deserved to be included. You see, in 2010 a mystery story began where it was revealed that somebody was stealing the post of various Walford residents. Masood Ahmed got blamed by a lot of people, since he was the postman and had been going through financial difficulties around the same time but in a shocking twist, it was revealed that Billy had been responsible for stealing everyone’s letters and then, then it was never referred to or brought up again.

It’s fair to assume that at some point, the show’s writers realised the plot was entirely ridiculous and scrapped it but still, for a while he randomly decided to steal other people’s mail, presumably to take any money that was gifted inside and it’s a bizarre part of his character. I have a feeling that the story of Billy Mitchell and the mail will never be referenced again or resolved and honestly, it’s probably for the best.

Seven: Billy The Fish Thief And Also The Creepy Stalker

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Ouch. On the topic of storylines involving Billy that are probably better off forgotten, this one is up there with the postal theft. Thrown under the bus by The Powers That Be in order to create more artificial suspects for the Who Killed Lucy Beale storyline, Billy was thrust into the spotlight for a few weeks, when it came out that Lucy had been threatening to get him sacked from his job at Ian Beale’s fish and chip shop because he was stealing fish to feed his granddaughter Lola and his great granddaughter Lexi. Yeah. Billy was stealing fresh fish from the fish and chip shop he worked in, Lucy found out and then started threatening to get him sacked.

Probably because this reason alone was pretty flimsy and not enough to make any savvy EastEnders’ viewer believe Billy could have possibly killed Lucy, a closing shot to an episode showed Billy had several covertly taken photos of Lucy hidden behind his fridge. Like I said, this was all done to turn Billy into another Red Herring but it was at the expense of making him seem like a creepy pervert. Depressingly it ultimately came out that that’s exactly why he had the photos. He had taken a shine to her and decided the best way to react to this would be to hold onto several photos of a young girl who had barely left her teens like a complete weirdo. Just like the post storyline, this is yet another angle that is better off forgotten and makes Billy appear unpleasant if you think about it too much.

Eight: Janet Gets Knocked Down By A Car, Billy Sleeps With Tina Carter, The Driver

tina-billy-eastenders-edjmgkjhfdhgkjfdhgkfdjAs I touched on a little earlier, things started to get better for Billy after the Lucy Beale storyline concluded and it seemed like things were finally on the up for him for a while. It must be some unwritten rule in EastEnders that a character can’t be happy for too many years in a row however, because over the Halloween period we seen Billy suffer from the one two punch of having to deal with his daughter Janet being ran down, before sleeping with Tina Carter after a row with Honey, on the exact same night.

The storyline hasn’t reached anywhere near its conclusion so maybe I shouldn’t be too judgmental but to have Billy cheat on his wife was a massive mistake and now that he’s been involved in this grim plot, where he knows Tina was the person who ran Janet down, but has to keep it hidden to avoid his cheating ways being exposed, it seems like things are only going to get worse for him. In soaps most of the time big secrets end up exposed and if this follows that traditional trajectory and Honey finds out what happened, then Billy Mitchell may soon have his lowest moment of all time.

 

After writing all of these it’s blatantly obvious to me that Billy has been written into some awkward to navigate corners in his nearly two decade long EastEnders career and I can only give credit to Perry Fenwick for being able to inject an element of likeability into the character that has always allowed him to find ultimate redemption, no matter how many bad things he ends up doing. I personally adore the character and will always have a lot of time for Billy. Even if he’s not always involved in the best or most prominent storylines, the guy has became an important part in the framework of the show and I’m so glad that back in 1999 he managed to snag the opportunity to live in Walford full time. EastEnders wouldn’t be the same without him.

Five Reasons Why Harry Reid Should NOT Be Axed As Ben Mitchell

This week there was a lot of hype created online, when EastEnders’ official social media accounts all began to tease a new arrival in Walford. That arrival turned out to be Melanie Owen, a character who hasn’t been in EastEnders for over fifteen years. While some people online, who were expecting returns from big names like Kat and Alfie Moon or Janine Butcher were disappointed, there was a lot of positivity about new Executive Producer John Yorke’s first character introduction. Melanie who is billed as a strong and feisty free spirit, had several big storylines centered around her relationships with the likes of Ian Beale and Steve Owen and in my eyes represents a pretty solid start to John Yorke’s tenure as Executive Producer in the arrivals department but it’s a shame that the same can’t be said about his handling of departures so far.

I wasn’t exactly heartbroken at the recent news of Abi and Lauren’s upcoming Christmas exit, so long as they’re not murdered and written out permanently but the news that Harry Reid, who has played Ben Mitchell for the last three years, will be leaving EastEnders when his contract runs out, left a bitter taste in my mouth. Obviously I know nothing about EastEnders behind the scenes but as a character, I think Ben Mitchell adds a lot of value to the show and shouldn’t be let go of just yet. In today’s post I’m going to offer five reasons why I think Harry Reid’s Ben Mitchell should not be axed, even if I’m well aware that blog posts and fan petitions have stopped a grand total of zero soap characters from ever being axed in the history of television. Here we go:

Reason One: It Took Three Attempts To Get Casting Right

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I’ll have to admit that I hadn’t been the biggest fan of Ben Mitchell until the last few years and I think a lot of that was down to the people they had playing the character. I won’t be too hard on the original actor Charlie Jones, who was only a child at the time and was also a victim of terrible writing, like so many child characters in EastEnders but the second person to play Ben, Joshua Pascoe, did a horrible job in my eyes. Yet again, Ben wasn’t written during Joshua’s stint as well as he has been recently but I constantly felt baffled by how often such a gormless and uncharasmatic character was getting put into big storylines during Pascoe’s time on the Square. It felt like every time a big mystery storyline was coming up, whether it was who was anonymously threatening Phil or who would end up killing Heather Trott, Ben ended up being the answer, usually to lukewarm and underwhelming results.

The past failure of two different actors to play Ben Mitchell as well as he should have been, meant that I groaned and dreaded the return of the character when it was announced that he would come back after yet another recast. My skepticism couldn’t have been more misplaced however when Harry Reid took to the screen as Ben.  Ben still had a dark side and was tormented by the same tired issues involving his dad but under Harry Reid, the character almost instantly felt better. For the very first time, I felt natural sympathy at his inner vulnerability, instead of almost being forced to feel it begrudgingly because we were told to.

I don’t think this feeling that Harry Reid finally got Ben Mitchell right is exclusively mine either, since a lot of other people online really like the character nowadays and it would be a shame if EastEnders lost an actor who has managed to change popular opinion about a character some worried was completely unsalvageable. If Ben isn’t killed off permanently in his exit storyline, then I can guarantee there will be a point were an Executive Producer will want him back and he or she will be extremely lucky if Harry Reid is still ready and willing to return again. A fourth recast would more than likely be fatal for the character, no matter how many years they waited.

Reason Two: He’s A Legacy Character That Actually Works

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I’m not sure what the official definition is but in regards to EastEnders, I consider a Legacy Character to be a child of one of the show’s long running, most popular families. These characters should be generally easier to write because their family have deep seated roots in the show’s history and are automatically more recognizable to fans but the problem is that they can sometimes end up failing for one reason or another, usually thanks to a mixture of writing that makes them far too unlikeable and bad casting.

In the Mitchell family alone, we have some good examples of Legacy Characters who currently aren’t working as well as they should be. Denny who will be a big deal some day, as the son of Dennis Rickman and Sharon Watts, has been portrayed as a selfish brat for years now and while recent attempts have been made to tone down how much of a little toerag he is, a lot of damage has been done and I feel like it will take a fair amount of hard work, if writers want to make him likeable and easier to empathise with in the future. Louise, Ben’s sister and obviously Phil Mitchell’s daughter, is also someone who I think isn’t working right now. Louise came across as extremely cruel and vicious when she allowed Alexandra and Madison to bully Bex and the fact that she only ever really decided to side with Bex when the bullying turned to being against her as well, meant that even her redemption arch was handled clumsily. Recently things haven’t got much better for Louise either, with her only storyline involvement centering around her body hang ups over some first degree burns that she received, thanks to Alexandra and Madison, which hasn’t exactly got a lot of attention or plaudits.

I fully understand at one point, Ben Mitchell was a legacy character who wasn’t working as well but axing him when he’s doing much better than he used to seems like a bad choice, especially when there’s even people in his own family who haven’t got it right. I’d sooner lose Denny or Louise for a while than Ben.

Reason Three: Without Ben, Jay Will Feel Directionless

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One of EastEnders greatest assets in recent years in my eyes, has been the relationship between Jay and Ben. Despite not actually being biologically related to each other in any way, both guys have developed a bond over the years that’s probably even stronger than the bond a lot of biological brothers have. Jay and Ben have been through lots over the years, from Ben’s conviction for the manslaughter of Heather Trott, to Jay devolving into drug dealing that put them both at risk for a while and even after everything, they’ve remained loyal to each other and have constantly reiterated that they are brothers who’ll always have each other’s back. A recent scene were they both got physical and knocked lumps out of each other, before making up and playing video games together was one of my favourite scenes of the year and summed up exactly what their relationship is all about. Brotherhood.

My fear is that when Ben goes, Jay is going to be rudderless as a character, without his partner in crime to bounce off against. I’ve always insisted that one of the most underrated actors on the entire show is Jamie Borthwick, who plays Jay and it scares me to imagine how much he’ll suffer when Ben leaves. The great scenes they’ve had recently, were they hang out in the Arches or at their flat having fun and bringing some lightness to the show, or where they support each other in their respective romantic lives. will all cease to exist and without Jay’s strongest link to the Mitchell family, I have a feeling that his connection to them will erode considerably. We’ve seen these two characters grow up in front of our eyes onscreen over several years and their entire relationship grow and flourish and it just feels like such a shame to know that it’s all coming to an end soon. I’m worried for Jay Mitchell in an EastEnders that doesn’t involve Ben.

Reason Four: Three Departures In A Year Will Hurt The Mitchells

I have a feeling that Jay isn’t the only character that is going to suffer when Ben leaves. In my opinion, the entire Mitchell family, probably the most recognisable family in EastEnders history (I know that’s ridiculously controversial but in this century at least, I do think the Mitchells have received the most prominent and biggest storylines), is going to be hurt by Ben’s departure. I’ve already touched on Denny and Louise not being the strongest characters right now but even looking at it in the long term, the loss of Ben is going to be damaging for a family, that already had to go through the losses of the popular Ronnie and Roxy at the beginning of 2017.

Without getting too involved in the debate over Ronnie and Roxy’s axing, it’s hard to argue that the Mitchells weren’t hurt when they were killed off on New Year’s Day. Characters that have been developed since the turn of the century in EastEnders, that are actually popular and well liked by the majority of fans, are somewhat of a rarity and I can only see the prominence of the Mitchells continue to tumble, if they end up losing three of these sort of characters in a single year.

EastEnders and the Mitchells can’t survive just on the popularity of Phil alone. Even though I do admit that Ben and Phil’s issues have been stretched out over the years to the point of tedium, it would be better if Ben was around to continue that angle, than Phil lost his son and only really had Louise, Denny, Billy, Sharon and Jay to have family based storylines with. I can only hope that Ronnie and Roxy’s exit will be enough to ensure John Yorke doesn’t kill off Ben but more baffling permanent axings have happened in the past. In a completely unrelated point, Rest in Peace Pat Butcher.

Reason Five: EastEnders Loses A Great LGBT Character If Ben Leaves

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I’m not going to dwell on this point for long, since I’m not part of the LGBT community and don’t want to feel like I’m trying to speak on their behalf but one thing I’ve always loved about Ben is how positive a gay character he is. Quite often in soaps I’ve found gay characters can be written to be stereotypes and since in a lot of ways, Ben has always been the opposite of those stereotypes, I’ve always felt that he was a good representative for that community. With his dark past and tough guy attitude, Ben really stands out as a well written and endearing LGBT character, who’s extremely different to some of the often over the top and campy, gay soap characters of the past and it doesn’t surprise me at all that Harry Reid’s portrayal, has encouraged some viewers to actually come out to their friends and family and feel more comfortable about their own sexuality.

Even if it broke my heart to see it end, Ben’s relationship with Paul Coker was one of the sweetest and most well done romance storylines that I can ever remember and the recent content involving Ben and the older Luke Willmott-Brown has also been excellent viewing and I think that EastEnders will miss having such a great LGBT character being involved in entertaining romance storylines like those. It’s important that we see more Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transexual characters in our soaps than less and axing Ben, one of the best gay characters in all of the soaps seems like a reductive step.

 

As I’ve said, I fully understand that I don’t have a tight grasp on what goes on behind the scenes on EastEnders but from a character and acting standpoint alone, I can’t really understand why the bosses have decided to let Harry Reid leave his role when his contract runs out. Ultimately, with the knowledge that the recent petition to keep Harry Reid around, won’t do anything to prevent him from leaving, all I can really do is thank him for reviving a character that was dead in the water before he took the role. He might only have been on the show for three years but he’s done a wonderful job in improving the characterisation of Ben Mitchell and perhaps most importantly, has improved the lives of some viewers considerably, by giving them the confidence to be proud to be who they are. I’m not an actor but I can imagine one of the most rewarding aspects of the job, is the ability to improve the lives of the people that consume your work. Harry Reid has most definitely done that and can leave with his head held high, no matter what. I’ll miss you Ben.

Ten EastEnders Characters of the 2010s You May Have Already Forgotten

I was just thinking the other day that we haven’t seen Konrad Topolski in EastEnders for a while. Introduced in February as a potential love interest for Shirley Carter, the Polish shopkeeper was involved in a few storylines that centred around the Queen Vic and Shirley but after he found Shirley’s prison sentence had been extended he’s pretty much disappeared from our screens completely, even after Shirley returned.

I liked Konrad a lot. He brought a cheerful normality to Walford and considering how multicultural London is now, it was great to see a more diverse character who seemed to slot so seamlessly into the community. If he was only intended to be on TV for a short time and is now gone then I think it’s a shame and he’s going to be missed by me at the very least.

With that said, while I was musing about Konrad I realised that if this is it and he’s finished with EastEnders already, he’ll be mostly forgotten by the majority of viewers in a few years time. This got me thinking about other similar regular characters, who joined the show for a while and didn’t do much memorable before leaving, so I thought I’d do a list of ten such characters from the last eight years of Eastenders.

I understand that no matter what, some avid viewers will remember these characters easily enough but hopefully at least they’ll find it interesting to be reminded of details of their tenure on the show that might have slipped their mind. Out of fairness to past EastEnders characters, like Dua Lipa, I have some rules. All characters must have been in EastEnders for a minimum of two months to count as recurring in my definition, with a maximum time on the show being two complete years. I’ve also decided to leave out children and animals, so unfortunately for Shenice Quinn and Wellard Number 2, they won’t be making the cut. Lastly, I’m going in reverse chronological order, so my first character will be the most recent with my last being the least. I might do lists of this from other decades as well if I can actually remember any of them myself but today let’s get started with the 2010s:

 

Character #1: Linford Short

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Played By- Leon Lopez

First Appearance- February 2016

Last Appearance- May 2016

Linford’s second name is pretty fitting and sums up his time in EastEnders because as you can see, Claudette’s foster son and Vincent and Donna’s foster brother had a very short time on Albert Square, only lasting three months. I have no issue with Claudette’s axing or Vincent’s 2017 transformation from a mysterious villain. to a friendly and loving family man but at the time of Linford’s arrival it was clear that then Executive Producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins had much bigger plans for the Hubbards that failed to materialize for one reason or another.

Asides from taking up building work for Jack and almost being the one to lay concrete over where Vincent had left his mother’s unconscious body (it’s a long story), weirdly what is most notable about Linford is just how low key his exit was. After appearing in a brief scene in the cafe, where he joked around with fellow builder Andy about having a crush on Ronnie Mitchell, Leon Lopez, the man who played Linford surprised a lot of people by announcing that was his final scene and that Linford was done with EastEnders.

Lopez claimed afterwards that Linford had only been brought in for a short term run but if that’s the case it makes me wonder what the whole point was. A few months later when Claudette left, she claimed that she went off to live with Linford but with Vincent becoming a more subtle, less prominent character it’s hard to believe he’ll ever return to the square.

Character #2: Aleks Shirovs

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Played By- Kristian Kiehling

First Appearance- January 2014

Last Appearance- April 2015

Aleks Shirovs in my eyes, is an underrated character that I will defend to the end of the earth.  Introduced at the start of 2014, the menacing and mysterious market inspector from Latvia quickly became a firm favourite of mine, as soon as he started strolling around Walford in a suit, while wearing sunglasses in the middle of Winter and treating the job of market inspector like it was the most important job in England. I’m sure those who didn’t like Aleks felt like he was all style and no substance but I felt like the character had a lot of potential and could have had a lengthy run in Albert Square if the people behind the show had tried their best to get him to stay.

I kind of feel as if too much time was spent on Aleks’ being stuck in pointless market related feuds with Alfie and Tamwar, which was a shame because the concept of someone who came to England from Europe to better the lives of his family, before getting enchanted by the lifestyle in London was an interesting one and yet it only really was expanded on when he was about to leave. Despite him being essentially a villain, he was also able to build up a convincing relationship with Roxy that felt a lot more real than a lot of her previous relationships and had a sweet friendship with his eventual flatmate Jake Stone, a man who unfortunately is probably soon to be a forgotten character as well.

I’ll always look back on Aleks and his time on EastEnders pretty fondly but to the casual fan, his most important long term contribution to the show, was probably when he named Ronnie Mitchell’s only surviving child Matthew. We all know at some point Matthew Mitchell is going to come back into EastEnders as a major character and Aleks will always have been the one to name him so that’s something, I guess.

Character #3: Tosh Mackintosh

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Played By- Rebecca Scroggs

First Appearance- February 2014

Last Appearance- December 2014

Another unmemorable character on my list, Fiona Mackintosh ironically shared a flat with the aforementioned Aleks but in my opinion did so little in EastEnders that she’s probably fading even quicker in most people’s memories than he is. Like with Aleks, on paper Tosh had a lot of potential that ultimately didn’t amount to much. Tosh was a lesbian and also a popular and capable firefighter but during her EastEnders tenure, her main storyline involved her relationship with the still around today, Tina Carter. In the past the relationship had involved domestic abuse and everyone knew it was only going to be a matter of time before it descended back into violence.

Annoyingly, a domestic violence story between two lesbians should have been something groundbreaking, since in my memory it had never happened in a British soap before but the problem was that it seemed like the commitment behind the scenes just wasn’t there. Viewers were tortured by months of Fiona constantly being let down by the immature and selfish Tina, so when Tosh actually did get violent you just wanted to see the relationship and the story end, as opposed to continue and escalate. Domestic violence is something that is sadly prevalent in all walks of life and I think in this situation, EastEnders should have went all in with its intensity instead of employing the half measures they did.

Tosh’s most memorable moment, perhaps surprisingly, was a light hearted one near the start of her EastEnders run, when she soaked an overacting Shirley Carter with her firehose after Shirley made the unwise decision of confronting her while she was at work, surrounded by her fellow firefighters. Shirley’s reaction to being hosed was absolutely hilarious and it’s worth looking it up on YouTube or something. Perhaps Fiona should have avoided a shelf life condemning, domestic violence story entirely and been more of a fun character, who stayed positive despite having to deal with the disappointment of her parents who hated the fact she was a lesbian. Her issues with her parents alone could have made her character a lot more sympathetic but this was sadly only touched upon in a few episodes and fizzled out quickly

Character #4: Sam James

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Played By- Cornell S John

First Appearance- May 2013

Last Appearance- December 2013

Hello everybody and welcome to 2013, a time when many forgettable characters made their way onto Albert Square, at the behest of the much maligned former Executive Producer Lorraine Newman. First up is a man who proved right the golden rule that you can’t trust someone who has a second name that is normally a first name, Sam James. A plumber by trade, Sam made his way to Walford to reconnect with two characters who arguably could also make a forgettable characters list, Dexter and Ava Hartman. Sam was Dexter’s father and had went out to get a pint of milk when Dexter was a baby and never came back home again.

At least Ava had strong connections to Walford, in comparison to the largely isolated Sam, being Cora’s daughter and hence related to Tanya, Lauren and Abi and even though few viewers liked Dexter, at least he had a strong personality and had something resembling charisma, unlike the bland and generic Sam. Like some characters on this list, it became quickly apparent that Sam James wasn’t connecting with the audience and he quickly departed in December, when it was revealed that he had only hunted down his ex wife and son in order to receive a kidney transplant from Dexter. This heinous act might have been shocking and interesting if anybody actually cared about the Hartmans, so unfortunately Sam left with his most memorable moment being a joke about looking more like Lionel Ritchie than Lionel Messi, during a father-son game of football with Dexter.

Character #5: Steve Lowe

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Played By- Michael Simkins

First Appearance- February 2013

Last Appearance- April 2013

It might be a little unsporting to include someone who had such a minor and brief role in EastEnders but Steve Lowe is so hard for me to remember, that I’m not sure if I’m imagining him having a Scottish accent or not. That type of hard to remember is deserving of a place in any top ten forgettable characters list, so Bianca’s parole officer, who had a brief relationship with Carol that amounted to very little, just had to make the cut.

My favourite and most memorable moment involving this character. was when he realised that Carol was emotionally damaged from the death of her teenage son Billy, since he had a daughter who also passed away far too young. The pain that a bereaved parent feels, is the sort of pain that nobody who hasn’t suffered it could possibly imagine or even begin to comprehend and two people meeting each other in a later stage of their life who had went through the same issue was heart wrenching and well done television. Sadly this connection wasn’t enough for Steve and Carol to work out in the long term however and the parole officer left just two months after he debuted, never to be seen again.

Character #6: Sadie Young

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Played By- Kate Magowan

First Appearance- August 2013

Last Appearance- January 2014

Back in 2013 I used to frequent the soap section on the Digital Spy Forums and even for a Forum that loved to over hype certain characters, the furor that surrounded Sadie was gigantic. She had barely been on the show for a few weeks before threads began to pop up announcing that she should be made the landlady of the Queen Vic sooner rather than later and should be a long term character, who was on the show for years to come. Obviously that kind of hype behind Sadie was hyperbolic and ridiculous but I did see where some of it came from. Strong willed and ambitious, while also possessing a level of tact and warmth, the new salon owner fit into the framework of Eastenders easily enough and if it wasn’t for the actress only being brought in for one specific story, maybe she could have became a great character instead of a tough to remember one.

Unfortunately for Sadie the story she was mainly brought in for wasn’t a particularly good one. After weeks of watching Lauren Branning flirt with Jake Stone, an alcoholic who attended an Alcoholic’s Anonymous group with Lauren, it was revealed that Sadie was Jake’s estranged wife and they both decided to try to get back together for the sake of their daughter Bella. Despite a storming first episode as an onscreen couple, that was probably Sadie’s highlight in EastEnders, where it was revealed that Sadie had accidentally killed a child in a car crash, after an argument with the drunken Jake, the couple quickly stagnated and eventually Jake went on to have a mini affair with Lauren that made for uncomfortable viewing.

As soon as Sadie found out about the affair, she was heartbroken and ended the marriage and the next day closed the salon before leaving with Bella, never to return. Sadie’s fate stings the most out of probably all the 2013 Lorraine Newman introductions because she had so much potential that was never able to materialize. Lesser characters have been at least allowed to have an emergency volunteer stint behind the Queen Vic bar.

Character #7: Nico Papadopoulos

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Played by- Aykut Hilmi

First Appearance- April 2012

Last Appearance- August 2012

Yeah I don’t know how an actual onscreen character, who is part of the iconic Papadopoulos family could flounder either but Nico somehow managed to. Being fair to the nephew of the often spoken of but rarely seen Andonis Papadopoulos, being known solely as that and the guy who managed McKlunky’s chicken place, wasn’t a solid base to build a good new character around. The fact that he was solely put into a storyline centred around the E:20 spinoff standout Fatboy also didn’t do Nico many favours, in hindsight.

I was 19 at the time of Nico and really liked the fact that he was brought in to give Fatboy (one of my favourite characters) an adversary and a filler storyline but the issue was that once Fatboy quit McKlunky’s and delivered a few burns to Nico about how he’d rather be unemployed than work for him, there was zero reason for the cynical manager to be onscreen ever again, so Nico was, well he was never onscreen again. I’d say the highlight from Nico’s brief, nine episode time in Walford, was when he decided to use Lola Mitchell giving birth in McKlunky’s as a way of getting publicity for the chicken shop. That level of greed and snakery deserves some awe and attention.

Character #8: AJ Ahmed

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Played By- Phaldut Sharma

First Appearance- July 2012

Last Appearance- January 2014

Just like Aleks, AJ Ahmed was another character who I felt fondly towards, even if I recognised that not everyone did. The brother of the much loved Masood Ahmed, AJ debuted in EastEnders in this crazy and over the top way, getting punched by Derek Branning in his very first episode which really helped to showcase his over the top, quirky persona. It’s easy to see that AJ was brought in to inject a bit of fun and humour into the Masood family, who had been going through a tough time over the last few years and for me in the most part it worked, especially when it became clear that AJ had deeper reasons for behaving like he did. AJ was terrified of allowing himself to get too close to anybody, actually ending his marriage because he hated the thought of having children and I felt like this inability to form lasting attachments to be quite endearing and sometimes relatable.

Sadly for someone I was extremely fond of, AJ was a bit of a Marmite character, with some people liking the humour he brought to EastEnders and others viewing him as being indicative of the negative aspects of Lorraine Newman’s unpopular reign as EastEnders Executive Producer, that focused too much on fun and light storylines, as opposed to darker and grittier drama. This meant that when Newman was replaced by Dominic Treadwell-Collins, AJ was axed almost immediately, with DTC stating that he didn’t fit into his vision of EastEnders.

DTC is entitled to his opinion but I do wish that he had given AJ a better exit at least. After deciding that he needed to loosen his emotional bonds with his family, AJ accepted a job as an assistant manager of a garage in Birmingham and since anywhere outside of London gets treated like it’s as far away as the moon, AJ left never to be seen again. This is a fair enough exit for a character who wasn’t even on the show for two years but weirdly just before he left, Masood and him found out that their mother had died over in Pakistan. For whatever reason, after a brief argument with Masood over the issue, AJ decided for no reason at all that he couldn’t go over with his brother to bury his mum, instead leaving for Birmingham looking like a complete coward. Perhaps the idea was that AJ refusing to even commit to helping bury his mother, summed up his time on EastEnders but in my opinion it just made him look way too selfish. You can be scared of commitment and still understand that you need to properly say goodbye to your mum.

Character #9: Andrew Cotton

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Played By- Ricky Grover

First Appearance- August 2011

Last Appearance- August 2012

There was nothing wrong with Andrew Cotton or his time in Walford but he was another character who was brought in for one specific storyline and suffered for it because it was always clear he’d be largely isolated as soon as it was over. To be fair to Andrew, he was brought in with his mother Rose Cotton, who is the half sister of our iconic, beloved Dot Branning and a lot of Andrew’s shortcomings were due to Rose failing to be interesting or likeable in any way.

Introduced during the ridiculously fun week of Southend epiosdes (hate it all you want but they were so good!), the doorman quickly hit it off with Heather Trott and was involved in a sweet romance storyline with her, when he moved to Walford with his mother, which was what most of his screen time was devoted to. The problem with this was that Heather had been axed and was to be murdered by Ben Mitchell, so Andrew was living on borrowed time as well and was written to exhibit a worrying temper in order to make viewers consider that he could be the one to kill his new fiancee.

Andrew was pretty interesting after the death of Heather to his credit and took to the role of a grieving, angry man who lost the woman he loved, like a duck to water but after he was cleared as a suspect and Ben was arrested for Heather’s murder there was little else he could do, especially with his mother already written out, so he left Walford to chase a new life. My favourite Andrew moment was probably when he patched up his differences with Shirley, who he often clashed with in regards to how she treated Heather and decided to work together with her to bring Heather’s killer to justice. Sure ShirlDrew didn’t do any effective combined detective work to catch Ben but it was still a nice moment.

Character #10: Greg Jessop

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Played By- Stefan Booth

First Appearance- October 2010

Last Appearance- October 2011

With all due respect to the man who played Greg Jessop, I’m pretty sure that if you looked up the words bland, generic or boring in the EastEnders dictionary, you would be greeted by the photo I just posted. Greg was brought in as the new husband to be for Tanya Cross and asides from him in storyline being the man to help redevelop the Queen Victoria after Phil Mitchell had burned it down, the majority of his screentime involved his relationship with Tanya and his efforts to keep her ex husband Max Branning away from their family.

The problem about Greg was, despite his muscular physique, he was actually pretty weak and unlikeable. Max regularly ran rings around him all the time (although to be fair in present time he’s running rings around all of Walford) and he essentially tried to force Tanya to have a baby with him, throwing childish strops when she said that she didn’t want a fourth child. All of this made it difficult to have sympathy for him, when Tanya had an affair with Max behind his back and his departure afterwards, brought about a sense of relief instead of loss. Strangely he returned to Walford a few months later for a single episode, after Lauren told him Tanya had been diagnosed with cancer and really needed him. Since Tanya had cheated on him, I can’t blame Greg too much for being unwilling to stick around but his behaviour then didn’t help make him any more likeable or memorable. Greg was perhaps the definition of forgettable.

 

Thank you so much for sticking around with me on this journey through some of the most forgettable EastEnders characters of the 2010s. Remember I would love to hear from you down in the comments section, whether it’s to reminisce with me about these past characters or to let me know who you think also belonged on the list, feedback is always appreciated and it’s always read. Thanks for reading again.

 

 

Five Negatives and Five Positives from Sean O’Connor’s Reign as EastEnders Executive Producer

Despite only taking charge from Dominic Treadwell Collins as EastEnders’ Executive Producer (the individual who leads the cast, crew and production team of the show, as well as the general direction of storylines and show content) back in July 2016, Sean O’Connor barely even managed to last a year at the helm before leaving with immediate effect in June 2017, not even a full year after his appointment.

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During his time as EP, Mr O’Connor, or SOC, as he was often referred to as, brought widespread change to EastEnders, revamping the shows tone and bringing it back to its more grounded roots, making many changes to the cast and implementing some big, long running storylines. While he did his best to change things about, unfortunately a lot of what SOC tried to do with EastEnders proved to be unpopular, with many long term viewers (like myself) and critics alike, claiming that things were too boring, that many of the characters were unlikeable and difficult to relate to and that the show in general was on a downturn. Sadly all of this combined with declining viewership figures and a lack of awards at the 2017 British Soap Awards, were probably factors in SOC’s departure, well before he was able to implement all of the changes he had planned to.

With that said, Sean O’Connor’s reign as EP did have a lot of good points and I have honestly found the programme improving and getting better every single month, even though most of those improvements happened before it was too late to save his job. In today’s post I’m going to offer five positives and five negatives that in my opinion, Sean O’Connor’s reign had on EastEnders. Remember, this is all my opinion. These positives could be more like negatives to you and vice versa but that’s okay.

Positive #1: Normal Characters in my EastEnders? It’s More Likely Than You Think!

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The Vincent Hubbard who was introduced by Dominic Treadwell Collins couldn’t be more different than the character he was under Sean O’Connor. Originally introduced as a gun dealing, generic villain who had issues with the Mitchell family because his mum did (it’s a long and boring story, don’t ask), the brilliant Richard Blackwood seemed destined to be out of a job again when Sean O’Connor took over. SOC clearly doesn’t believe in destiny because instead, he managed to turn Vincent into a warm and affable character who was devoted to his wife and daughter. SOC somehow managed to make Vincent into a positive asset to the show without completely taking away the characters’ backbone and now would be sorely missed by me if he got axed.

Sean’s handling of Vincent is the way he handled a lot of characters during his tenure. For the first time in what feels like years we actually had a handful of characters who were notable because they were normal, decent people who loved their friends and family. Of the top of my head, Stacey, Johnny, Derek, Honey and of course Vincent were all improved by just allowing them to behave like normal human beings and while some people probably found this boring, I thought it helped provide a nice balance to the craziness that happens in Walford. Two life threatening disasters happened in the space of eight months for goodness sake!

 

Negative #1: Dreadful Denise

SOC did decent work with some EastEnders’ characters but one character that he did a massive disservice to was Denise. Over the years Denise has been one of my favourite characters. Strong, independent and resilient, even when life constantly threw bad things her direction, I always admired the character and wanted to see her onscreen as much as possible. Unfortunately since SOC took charge, the opposite has happened and I’ve begun to grow tired of her and I think it’s fair to say that most viewers will have seen their opinions of her at least slightly drop over the last year.

To be fair, DTC also did some negative character work on Denise, with her unwillingness to admit that she had savagely attacked Lucy Beale on the night she died particularly damaging but his version of Denise was a wonderful example of great character writing in comparison to Sean O’Connor’s. Throughout the year we seen Denise act like she was high and mighty in comparison to everybody else because she was studying for a part time GCSE,  end up on benefits because she was too stubborn to admit to being in the wrong to keep her job, only for her to be fine and in a high end office position in a matter of weeks and embark on a relationship with Kush, in what felt like one of the most forced and unnatural relationships in a long time.

Okay, I understand that her benefits storyline was important and showed that you can only be a few bad decisions away from having to rely on a food bank to survive but even a storyline of that importance left her coming across as an even worse character. From whinge to cringe, most of 2016 and 2017 was not a good period of time for Denise.

 

Positive #2: Weyland & Co

There has been times that I’ve been pretty critical of this storyline but my main reason for being against it, especially at the start, was for its lack of transparency. A bit of mystery isn’t a bad thing and fans should never have everything spoonfed to them but, for a while this story made little sense and was so hard to follow. Max was shown to be working for this business called Weyland & Co and for some reason they wanted to tear Walford down in order to redevelop it and turn it into a better place but a lot of things weren’t made clear for a long time and it all felt kind of muddled and pointless.

Who these people were was revealed at what felt like a snail’s place, we were given zero reason to care about anybody at the company and when I heard that this story was meant to last for three years I really started to dread it but my stance on the plot has changed in recent weeks. Fi has been shown to be vulnerable and to have her own hangups (her mother committed suicide and she found her body), Josh has genuinely fallen for Lauren and has struggled with his feelings for her, Luke, the other brother, has been only recently introduced but already has a tonne of potential and everything is pulled in together by Max, a character well on his way to legendary status, being heavily linked with the family. The recent reveal that the menacing 1980s vilain James Willmott-Brown is the head of the company and the driving force behind the whole story has only made it even more compelling viewing and now I’m finding myself hoping that it’s allowed to continue and flourish under John Yorke. It reminds me of the bigger gangster based stories of the early 2000s that had stakes that extended beyond Albert Square and I can’t wait to see how it’s all going to unfold.

Negative #2: The Launderette Closes Down, Dot’s farewell party is Attended by NO ONE

I think it’s fair to assume that at some point, a BBC executive took Sean O’Connor aside and told him that, since it’s now 2017, the use of the launderette as a prominent location in EastEnders needed to end. For as long as I can remember I have seen memes and jokes online about how unrealistic it is that nobody in Walford seems to have their own washing machine, so even though I loved the use of the launderette, I can excuse Sean O’Connor for getting rid of it and even for forcing the elderly Dot into retirement. What I can’t excuse however is the limp and lame way that the closing of the launderette was portrayed on television.

In what could only be described as insulting, Dot arranged a party to mark the changing of the launderette into a dry cleaners, as well as her last day on the job and disgustingly, a grand total of zero people attended. It wasn’t like some sort of disaster happened on the day or something to divert attention away either. Everybody just kind of forgot and shrugged their shoulders when they were chastised for it by Dot later on. A location that has seen so many iconic moments take place deserved so much more and I remember feeling incredibly disappointed in Sean O’Connor at the time. It felt like the whole thing had been done as stupidly as possible to deliberately rile fans of the show up, something that was a recurring theme during his first few months on the EastEnders hot seat. Don’t even get me started on the fact that mere months later, Sylvie Carter had a farewell party that almost every available character on the square attended, like she was some sort of long standing icon. Okay I got started.

 

Positive #3: Steven Beale

When my only criticism of Steven Beale’s final run in EastEnders is that it was cut tragically short, then you know he was handled exceptionally well. After a slow start, where he was involved in a tame plot as he tried to siphon money out of his dad Ian Beale’s restaurant and was shown to struggle with being a dad to his girlfriend Lauren’s baby, since the baby’s father was his brother Peter, Steven found his niche as a controlling, possessive boyfriend who went to desperate lengths to keep Lauren in his life, even as it became more and more obvious that she wasn’t in love with him.

Steven began to get more and more creepy, piercing holes in his condoms in an attempt to get Lauren pregnant, setting up a secret phone app so he could track her whereabouts at all times and then ultimately lying that he had an inoperable brain tumour to keep her from leaving him and while he began to exhibit increasingly reprehensible behaviour that turned off some people, it became captivating viewing. The week where Steven attempted to kill Jane Beale in order to keep his tumour lie a secret, before dying seconds after he found out he was going to become a father to Abi Branning’s baby was in particular, great television and it’s so disappointing that this arch and the character as a whole is now completely done with. Special credit has to go to Aaron Sidwell who played every nuance of his crazy exceptionally well. It honestly wouldn’t surprise me if the character just had to be written off so the actor could go on to bigger and better things. Steven Beale is going to be missed.

 

Negative #3: The Introduction of the Taylor Family

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I’m kind of disgusted that the iconic Keegan wasn’t included in the press release photos of the family (his inclusion in the family was kept as a surprise) but I digress. Even though, spoiler alert, the Taylor Family are about to be listed as a positive as well, I found their first few weeks to be so bad and groan inducing that it deserves to be counted as a misstep. The Taylors were introduced in a stereotypical, EastEnders cliche way by turning up as basically the noisy neighbours, blaring loud music from their flat at all times, being rude and offensive to everybody, including the police and even going as far as to steal Arthur Fowler’s memorial bench. The latter part was particularly baffling to me. Here is a brand new family that we are supposed to take to and like and yet they were portrayed as people who thought it was humorous to steal the memorial bench of a dead man. It didn’t work and fortunately that plot was dropped in a few weeks.

Another issue I had, was how quickly prominent storylines were thrown their way. Bernadette, Karen’s young daughter, being thrown into a pregnancy storyline immediately did nothing to help quell the voices of those who claimed the Taylors were way too similar to another hard done by EastEnders family from the past, the Millers, but even more ill advised was that we were expected to care about Bernadette’s pregnancy to begin with. Here is this group of characters who we have zero affinity to and yet were expected to sympathize with and feel anything other than laughably grossed out at the thought that Keanu might be the father to his own sister’s baby. Yeah, that was a thing that was actually hinted at. The belief that we would care about the Taylors, despite being given no reason to, along with how cliche it all was, makes their initial introduction a big mistake.

 

Positive #4: The Taylor Family

Fortunately for the Taylors, after some adjustment issues, eventually they found their niche in Walford and began to become better characters. The moment I began to warm to them was probably the moment that I realised just how good a guy Keanu is. He was the first to feel guilt over the theft of Arthur Fowler’s bench and it became clear that he was a hard worker who wanted to better himself and didn’t want to end up in the position of life that his mum did. He loves his family and also was seen to do random acts of kindness in the community, even refusing money from Ingrid after he helped her out in a recent episode, despite his family’s lack of wealth and showing this was a good idea because it caused a lot of people to start to care about him.

When Keanu started to become a valuable character, the rest of his family seemed to also see gradual improvements as well. Karen is still a little selfish and sneaky and often makes mistakes but has been shown to be misunderstood and recently was incredible during the storyline about Bernadette’s miscarriage. She’s gone from somebody I didn’t like to someone I enjoy seeing onscreen and I’m glad that actress has found her niche now as the matriarch of this family. Even Keegan, who EastEnders’ viewers have spent the entire year complaining and criticising for being a nasty little toerag, has started to show signs that behind his tough guy exterior he’s actually just a little lost. Like all of them, he loves his family but seems to feel disillusioned by his status in life and how he’s perceived by people and now we actually know why he’s been a nasty little toerag it explains a lot. It doesn’t excuse it but it does explain it.

When I first was introduced to the Taylors I found myself thinking and hoping that they would all get axed by John Yorke but their down to earth character and their love for family, show signs of a classic EastEnders family and now I’m looking forward to see them becoming long term residents of Albert Square. There’s still so much for the family to do, from Keegan continuing his redemption, to Karen beginning to strike up friendships with the likes of Shirley Carter, to what I’m thinking will continue to be a very sad depression storyline for Bernadette and the success of the Taylor Family is all on SOC’s shoulders. If their introduction had been a little more understated, then Sean would have had a completely perfect record with them.

 

Negative #4: The Systematic Destruction of Mick Carter’s character 

Whether you love them or hate them, Danny Dyer’s character Mick Carter, along with the entire Carter Family, have been an important part of EastEnders in recent years and have brought a lot of attention to the show. From Mick finding out Shirley was his real mother, to the tragic death of Stan and Sylvie, to the harrowing rape of Linda, Mick’s wife, the Carters have always had a prominent role to play in the goings on in Walford, ever since their 2013 debut. There were long running rumours that the last Executive Producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins featured the Carters in important positions because they reminded him of his own family and if that was the case, then Sean O’Connor must have been reminded of a family he wasn’t very fond of because during his tenure he has done the family hardly any favours.

I’m going to ignore his lack of faith in and subsequent dumping of Lee Carter (an issue that even Danny-Boy Hatchard has went on record to claim existed) and focus on Sean O’Connor’s biggest Carter sin, the destruction of Mick and Linda as a couple and of Mick as a character in general. One thing that I always liked about Mick and Linda was that they were quite unique compared to most soap couples. They had a ‘no secrets,’ rule, both never cheated on each other and remained consistently strong and devoted in their love for one another, despite being tested practically as soon as they arrived in Walford.

While the no secrets rule of the couple was broken in a few aspects under DTC, it wasn’t until SOC arrived that the floodgates opened and immediately, Mick wasn’t honest about his growing feelings for Whitney, the family’s increasing financial problems and just how out of control Lee was getting, while Linda kept secret from him that she was going through a cancer battle and that her stroke inflicted mother had actually recovered a lot quicker than she had claimed. I understand that the actress who plays Linda got pregnant and had to be written off for a while but that doesn’t excuse the storyline being so weak and flimsy and the worst sin of all, Mick cheating on Linda with Whitney.

Some people may claim that it’s not cheating to just share a kiss with another woman, or that the aftermath of Linda finding out was good TV but it completely killed Mick’s character. He might not have ultimately slept with Whitney but he was sorely tempted to and from then on seemed to shrink and get weaker. It’s going to be difficult for viewers to view him as a good, caring man now they’ve seen him fall for Whitney’s temptation and I don’t even blame Danny Dyer if he was turning up to the set drunk. His material at the time would drive any man to drink.

 

Positive #5: Billy Mitchell’s Bad Luck Reign Ends

One of the moments that made me smile most in EastEnders this year, happened when Billy Mitchell, who just recently took over from Les Coker at the Undertakers, walked into the cafe and asked Kathy for one of those new fancy lattes from their new coffee machine. Ignoring the hilarity that somehow Starbucks, Costa or Cafe Nero don’t exist in the world of Walford, it summed up a remarkable turnaround that Billy Mitchell begun under DTC and finished off under SOC. Despite always being the nicest and most kind hearted Mitchell relative, Billy for his entire tenure on EastEnders, has been plagued with incredible bad luck, suffering in a multitude of ways that are too many to list.

Thanks to SOC that has all changed and the character has flourished in an understated background role that has seen his hard work pay off in eventual ownership of the Undertakers and him reconcile his old family unit with Honey and their two children Janet and William and now it’s good to see that he’s able to treat himself and live what he probably envisions as the high life. For a character as decent as Billy I’m genuinely glad to see he’s had a mostly happy year under SOC, well, if you ignore the deaths of his close cousins Ronnie and Roxy. Sean O’Connor did, which brings me to my last, perhaps most damning negative.

Negative #5: The Deaths of Ronnie and Roxy Mitchell

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Many people have and many people still will argue that Ronnie and Roxy should never have been axed or at the very least shouldn’t have been killed off and although I do mostly agree, I understand that their characters were growing a little stale. There’s better ways to cope with characters getting stuck in a rut than a final axing but if two actors are being paid too much money or whatever and an Executive Producer is adamant that they must go, then at the very least you had better make their exit stories mean a lot. Sean O’Connor dropped the ball with this one and he dropped it hard.

The way Ronnie and Roxy died was a little silly and confusing (Ronnie tried to save a drowning Roxy and got tangled up in her own wedding dress and they both drowned) but their entire final episode was shot in this beautiful and unique way that made the whole thing harrowing and I enjoyed it, as well as maybe the initial first week of aftermath. Unfortunately, from about a week later the whole thing fell apart. Unless you were Jack or to a lesser extent Billy and Honey, Ronnie was almost immediately forgotten about and Roxy was practically shunned by everyone as soon as they found out that a cocaine induced heart attack probably led to her death. At one point even, just a few months later, Sharon exclaimed that Phil had experienced a great time over the last year or so, as if to suggest that Phil finding out that he had a secret son with Denise was potentially more damaging to him, than him losing two ladies he was very close to was. The whole thing was very poorly done and it almost felt like Ronnie and Roxy were forgotten about as quickly as possible by the show, with the fans continuing to remember them for a lot longer than their own family even.

I guess my point here is, that perhaps axing two popular characters almost immediately into your tenure as Executive Producer isn’t a good idea and if you’re going to do it then you had better do it well or else nobody will support you. I’m sure John Yorke has learned a lesson and isn’t going to kill off Abi and Lauren Branning over Christmas. Right?

 

To summarise, I think in hindsight a lot of people will view Sean O Connor’s time as Executive Producer of EastEnders as a tenure of two distinct halves, one that was crawling and dreary with a lot of inexplicable decisions and a later one that involved regularly captivating television, bolstered by mostly strong characters, new and old, that were easy to get invested in. Originally I was glad to see him leave but now part of me feels it’s appropriate to mourn what could have been instead. Like all of them or not, the changes implemented during Sean O’Connor’s brief period in charge of EastEnders will be felt for a long time and for that I can only offer my thanks.