Tag: Carl White

Joyce Murray and Seven Other Underwhelming EastEnders’ Deaths That Were Quickly Disregarded

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In EastEnders, on Thursday the 29th of March, Ted Murray’s wife Joyce, passed away peacefully in her sleep. The axing of Joyce had seemed like a foregone conclusion for a while now, as she generally failed to catch the interest of fans who often negatively compared both her and her husband to the much more popular, Pam and Les Coker. I don’t think many of the show’s viewers are going to miss her, which is a shame because a character played by the incredibly talented Maggie Steed should have been written so much better than the drab Joyce was, whose only stories seemed to revolve around having to deal with all the issues Ted created for the couple.

Possibly the saddest thing about Joyce is that even in death, her character hasn’t really felt that important. The storyline got off to a promising start on the episode after she passed away, with Ted being shown wandering around confused and unsure what to do, while being reminded by almost every character just how special a wife Joyce was but since then most of the focus has been on the Taylors often annoying attempts to be there for Ted, along with Ted feuding with his daughter Judith. So many conflicting elements of the story have cropped up at once, that personally it feels at times like Joyce isn’t really dead and Ted and Judith are just fighting over the personal issues they have, while Joyce is away on holiday or something.

The most insulting part of the storyline however, came when Ted revealed that he didn’t have enough money to bury Joyce, with her now being scheduled to be cremated without a ceremony in order to dispose of her remains as inexpensively as possible. It all feels ridiculous, especially considering the square just recently pitched together to pay for a lavish funeral for Kat Slater who wasn’t even dead and the whole thing blatantly has been done to try to forget the fact that Joyce was a character who existed as soon as they can, with minimal effort. This isn’t the first time something like this has happened either and in today’s blog post, I’m going to list seven other recent EastEnders’ deaths that were disregarded and mostly forgotten about way too quickly:

 

One: Kevin Wicks

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Played By- Phil Daniels 

Last Appearance: 1st January 2008

Shirley Carter’s ex-husband and all round top guy, Kevin Wicks was a favourite of mine during his near two year stint on Albert Square but when he tragically died on New Year’s Eve after being impaled by a pole, the legacy that he left on the show quickly disappeared. Kevin was revealed beforehand to not be biologically related to Dean or Carly, two of Shirley’s children and his wife at the time Denise, went on to have several different relationships, so the only way Kevin even gets a rare reference usually tends to come from Shirley.

It’s hard to blame EastEnders themselves for Kevin’s long term legacy being diminished because Phil Daniels, who played him, refused to renew his contract, leaving writers with no choice but to kill him off but I feel it still could have been done in a better way. As a big fan of Kevin, thanks to his sensitive nature and love of Chelsea football club, I actually couldn’t bare to watch his death episodes and when I returned, even then it was obvious we were expected to forget about him as soon as possible. Fresh audio of him did at least feature in some home video recordings Shirley has watched over the last few years to be fair, so at least the BBC and Phil patched up whatever differences they’d had back in 2008.

 

Two: Derek Branning

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Played By- Jamie Foreman

Last Appearance: 25th December 2012

There will be some names on this list that people are more than happy were disregarded almost as soon as they died but I personally had no issues with this one as a character. The older brother of Max and Jack, Derek Branning was portrayed as a big deal during his entire run on EastEnders but some viewers didn’t think he was a convincing enough bad guy, so when he died pretty comically to a heart attack on Christmas Day, it wasn’t really a surprise that the aftermath of his death didn’t feel like that big a deal.

Derek had managed to alienate himself from most of the Square when he passed away, so asides from some failed storylines involving his daughter Alice and his son Joey in the months after his death, he was quickly forgotten about and is rarely mentioned nowadays. As I’ve said, Derek was far from beloved but when you’ve spent so long building a bad guy up to be a threat, I feel like his death storyline could have been handled much better than it ultimately was. The most important thing to happen after Derek’s death was that it brought on the appearance of Carl White, who we’ll be hearing more about later. That’s pretty telling.

 

Three: Michael Moon

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Played By- Steve John Shepherd

Last Appearance: 1st November 2013

I really miss Michael Moon. Undisputed as my favourite EastEnders character of all time, Alfie’s cousin was perfect in his role as an understated, slimy, psychopath and in my eyes, hasn’t been matched as a villain since his departure. With that said, for a character as great as Michael, he’s been pretty much forgotten over the last five years. After Janine Butcher and Alice Branning, who were involved in his death, avoided murder sentences, his name has barely been uttered on the square, which is a shame because he truly was a great villain who deserved better.

Michael will have some form of legacy in EastEnders in the next few decades, as the father of Janine Butcher’s daughter Scarlett, who presumably will be an important character some day but it would be nice if he’d at least get the occasional mention on TV for now. Recently, when Jean Slater foolishly gave away all of her life savings to help Big Mo pay her debts, no one even bothered to remind her of her past with Michael, where he conned thousands of pounds of savings from her but then again, that was one of Michael’s weakest storylines, so maybe that one is welcome to stay forgotten.

 

Four: Carl White

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Played By- Daniel Coonan

Last Appearance- 1st January 2014

Oh Carl White. While he probably is the greatest example of a death being brushed under the carpet as soon as it was slightly feasible to, he’s also someone who was such a bad character that he’s probably best left forgotten anyway. The Derek Branning expy who as mentioned, was introduced in the aftermath of the big Branning Brother’s death, somehow managed to be an even less revered villain than Derek and was killed off in gruesome fashion, after Ronnie Mitchell slammed a car boot into his head on New Year’s Day.

In the months after Carl’s death, it was expected that eventually his corpse would be found and Ronnie would face some retribution for killing him but instead Ronnie hired some people to intimidate Carl’s family into leaving her alone, after they were suspicious about her and Carl’s body was never found and is presumably still lying rotted in a car’s trunk somewhere, possibly in the same scrapyard as poor Fatboy. This storyline regularly gets referred to as an example of a soap story surrounding a death, that was never resolved but at this stage it’s probably better that EastEnders’ writers let sleeping Carls lie.

 

Five: Emma Summerhayes

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Played By- Anna Acton

Last Appearance- 2nd January 2015

Since she was only brought in to further some elements of the Who Killed Lucy Beale storyline, it kind of makes sense that there wasn’t much of a focus on the death of Emma Summerhayes, the Family Liaison officer to the Beales after Lucy was murdered, who eventually began an unethical relationship with Max Branning. Despite some deserved criticism over the fact that Summerhayes wasn’t a particularly great police officer (although to be fair, she did solve the case months before anybody else in the force did), Emma was a warm and compassionate character who I believe could have fitted in with EastEnders in the long term. Unfortunately, the writers had other ideas and Emma died from complications from a concussion, suffered during the New Year’s Day car crash that almost killed Ronnie Mitchell as well.

While Max was devastated at first over his partner’s death, it didn’t take him too long to get over it and she hasn’t even been briefly mentioned in a long time. As I’ve said, Emma wasn’t every fan’s cup of tea and it makes sense that writers wouldn’t want her passing to overshadow the heavily hyped Lucy Beale storyline but still, it was kind of jarring to see one character’s death story being dragged out over almost a year, while another character who died as well, was forgotten within a few weeks.

 

Six and Seven: Ronnie and Roxy Mitchell

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Played By- Samantha Womack and Rita Simmons

Last Appearance- 1st January 2017

Hey, hey, stop! Before anyone takes the pitchforks out, since the decision to kill both of these characters was highly contentious and caused a mammoth split between EastEnders fans, let me explain where I’m coming from for a second. To make it clear, this entry isn’t saying that I believe Ronnie or Roxy shouldn’t have been axed or that their initial death episode wasn’t done well but when you think about it, Ronnie and Roxy were two of the modern era’s most well known and widely liked characters and their deaths should have ultimately meant more than they did. I’ve said it before, I don’t expect Jack or anybody else for that matter to still be mourning Ronnie a year later but the way that the Mitchell family especially, forgot so quickly about two pivotal members of their family was crazy and nowadays, if it wasn’t for Jack making sure Ronnie wasn’t forgotten, it would feel like all the square forgot that either of them ever existed.

The drowning deaths of these two characters, while bizarre, was incredibly different and unique (a difficult feat in soap land) and I can’t bring myself to be too hard on it but the fact that it was all the fault of Roxy, a dead woman, meant that asides from Jack grieving the passing of his wife, there wasn’t much that could be done afterwards. Even the plot elements that were laid out beforehand, such as Max being with Roxy before she took cocaine and went off to the pool to die, were completely ignored and never referred to again and the whole thing just feels like a big disappointment in hindsight. It happened all the way back last Summer but I think the lack of impact that Ronnie and Roxy’s death had was most apparent, when Sharon pleaded with Denise to not tell Phil about their love child because Phil was in the middle of a really good year. The death of R and R, who he was close to was completely glossed over like it had never happened. Considering the lack of excitement that followed the whole thing, I wish it hadn’t.

 

So there we have it, there’s a list of some EastEnders’ characters who I feel were forgotten about way too quickly after they died. On Twitter, I asked for suggestions about other characters people thought had underwhelming death stories and some great names such as Billie Jackson, Sylvie Carter, Steven Beale and truly enough, Tramp the dog were brought up and if you can think of anybody else I may have missed, feel free to let me know in the comments section below.

Before finishing, I also want to add that the scenes involving a mourning Ted on Friday night’s EastEnders were exceptionally well done and that maybe in the long term, Joyce’s death story will play out just fine but for now, I still think it hasn’t felt that important and will be forgotten soon enough. That said, when we think about the follow up to the passing of the likes of Carl White, Emma Summerhayes and Derek Branning, seeing Ted playing chess with Bernadette, while his daughter Judith scowls in the background actually isn’t all that bad.

Five of the Worst EastEnders Villains of the 2000s

It seems like every EastEnders’ fan right now has a strong opinion on the current James Willmott-Brown storyline. The 1980s villain, who was involved in a groundbreaking and compelling story, regarding his rape of Kathy Beale back in 1988, has been the mastermind behind this complicated plot that has been rumbling in the background of EastEnders for all of 2017 and for every fan like me, who finds it intriguing and interesting television, there are other fans on various mediums of social media, who find the whole storyline dull and who can’t wait for it to end.

I personally love everything about Willmott-Brown and find him to be a compelling villain, even 28 years after he last featured on EastEnders but I am aware that many fans don’t particularly care for him. Whether it’s finding his scheme to redevelop all of Walford too methodical and plodding or feeling a level of emotional disconnect to the Kathy storyline that happened before a lot of viewers were born, I can understand the criticisms aimed at JWB, even if I personally don’t feel the same way. The jury is still out on him of course and his story could still burn out in a blaze of all engrossing glory but I have a feeling that when it’s all said and done, the  James Willmott-Brown of the 2000s will be thought of as a villain who was just alright. Not terrible, nor incredible on the level of the likes of Archie Mitchell or Janine Butcher, but alright.

All of this talk about James Willmott-Brown recently, has led me to think about all the villains who have made their way onto Albert Square this millennium that were much, much worse than he is. From bad guys (I can’t think of a single  long term female villain EastEnders have treated poorly, unless Alice Branning counts), who have failed to be threatening or intimidating in any way, despite being written as such, to those who have been unable to break the mould of appearing to be a cardboard cut out of a pantomime villain, EastEnders has had some terrible villains over the last 17 years and today I’m here to shine the spotlight on five of them.

 

Villain One: Andy Hunter

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First Appearance: July 2003
Final Appearance: February 2005

It almost physically pains me to have Andy Hunter on this list. At the age of just 10 when he debuted, I found the leader of the Firm to be imposing and scary and would genuinely fear for the lives of the likes of Kat Slater, Alfie Moon and Sam Mitchell, who he had various disputes with. Unfortunately over the years of reading bits and pieces about Andy, it’s became apparent to me that he wasn’t particularly loved or cared for by a good portions of the show’s audience. Long term viewers didn’t feel like he compared to some of the East End gangsters of the past and the way he allowed Kat and Alfie ,who had humiliated him on what should have been the day of his marriage to Kat, get away from the situation relatively unscathed, was a big credibility blow to the smarmy criminal.

In hindsight, I find it easy to see that Andy Hunter wasn’t as great as I thought he was at the time. Myself and my primary school friends were so in love with the dark and gritty ‘Gangster Era,’ of EastEnders, that we probably would have found any character who was a criminal and proud of it to be awesome and even when I look back to this time frame in EastEnders nowadays, my first thought isn’t of Hunter, but instead the vastly superior Johnny Allen, who came along at the start of 2005 to steal Andy’s thunder and ultimately murdered him. The most damning thing in my shift in opinion on Andy Hunter probably came a few years ago ,when I made an offhand comment to my mum about him and my mother, a regular viewer of EastEnders since it began, had absolutely zero memory of him, even after I showed her a photo. I can’t defend someone who was in EastEnders regularly for two years and who can’t even be remembered by a long term fan. Sorry Andy.

Most Memorable Moments: Despite his long term irrelevance, Andy was involved in some important storylines that the effects of can still be seen to this day. He was responsible for the murder of Paul Trueman, something that has shaped the iconic Patrick Trueman as a character since the day it happened and as mentioned, was instrumental in how Kat and Alfie got together but perhaps, his most iconic moment came in how he died. After trying to con the new Big Dog Johnny Allen, out of close to a million pounds, he was mercilessly flung off a motorway bridge by Johnny in one of the show’s most brutal and harrowing death scenes of all time. Sadly in a way that sums up Andy Hunter’s entire time on EastEnders, his death took place on the night one of EastEnders biggest legends of all time, Dirty Den Watts was also killed, immediately overshadowing his own grisly fate. Tough break.

Villain Two: Danny Mitchell

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First Appearance: January 2010

Final Appearance: January 2017

Archie Mitchell in my eyes, is one of the finest villains in the history of EastEnders. Eventually universally hated by all of Albert Square and the vast majority of the show’s viewers, there was something about the spiteful, manipulative father of Ronnie and Roxy Mitchell that made him that rare kind of character that everybody loved to hate. A big problem about villains in soap world however is, unless redeemed in some way, they have some form of a shelf life and eventually there comes a time when they will need to exit the show for good. This time came around for Larry Lamb’s character sadly but the show made the most of it and Archie Mitchell’s death story was done masterfully and hooked me in so much, that I haven’t missed a single episode of EastEnders since then. Despite this, there still would come the time a villain as great as Archie would need to be replaced, so what did EastEnders do to fill their Archie shaped, villainous void? They invented a secret son that had never been even hinted at before and threw him into the spotlight.

Enter Danny Mitchell. As the son of Glenda, the brother of Ronnie and Roxy and of course a member of the iconic Mitchell Family, Danny should have been well placed to take over from Archie as the lead villain in Walford but there was one problem, he really wasn’t all that good. Too young for the role to be particularly intimidating and written to appear too awkward and reliant on his mother for help in his scheming, Danny was quickly written out after his attempts to try to con his sisters were unearthed and even more fatally to the character, Glenda revealed that he wasn’t actually Archie’s son, but was the product of a fleeting affair she had, after she split up with him. I don’t have any background information on this but Danny was introduced in January and ended his first tenure in June of the same year, so it wouldn’t surprise me if the not being Archie’s son reveal, was tacked on at the time, when they realised just how much the character was outright tanking.

In what came as a real surprise to a lot of people, like I alluded to in the paragraph above, Danny Mitchell actually had a second run as a character in EastEnders, being brought back in January of this year after seven years away, with the same actor in tow. There to support his returning mother after the deaths of Ronnie and Roxy, Danny once again made little impact, showing that he had experienced hardly any character growth and was still as terrible at scheming as ever, after trying and miserably failing to extort money from Ronnie’s grieving husband Jack Branning. After that didn’t work out for him, Danny disappeared again and I’d say his chances of ever returning for a third run, are almost completely non existent.

Most Memorable Moments: As far as I’m concerned, Danny only had one truly memorable moment and it actually came this year, which says a lot about his first time in Walford. After offering Jack, in the home he used to share with Ronnie, to convince his mum Glenda to drop her plans to take Ronnie’s son Matthew away from Jack’s custody, in exchange for a hefty sum of money, Danny was beaten savagely by the enraged and insulted Jack in response. In something that summed up Danny’s time on EastEnders, what made the moment truly memorable was that Max Branning was sitting stoically in the kitchen watching the proceedings unfold, while calmly putting ketchup onto a sausage sandwich and watching quietly as Danny was assaulted by his brother. Even in a bizarre and wonderful TV moment like that, Danny was nothing more than a mere plot device.

Villain Three: Danny Pennant 

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First Appearance: September 2012

Final Appearance: February 2014

Danny Mitchell wasn’t the only Danny of the 2010s that was intended to be a major villain before failing miserably. Danny Pennant, who was introduced around two and a half years later, seemed to have a lot of potential that for whatever reason quickly fizzled out. The city investment banker was played by soap veteran Gary Lucy and was an LGBT villain in EastEnders before Luke Browning managed to pull it off so effortlessly in 2017, appearing as a mysterious stranger who ended up convincing Syed Masood to sleep with him behind the back of Syed’s partner Christian. Danny only was involved occasionally in the show as part of the story surrounding Christian and Syed’s problems but his role that lasted from September to November 2012 was so intriguing that it left viewers desperate to see more of Danny, so he ended up returning in June 2013 as a full time character.

From then on,  it didn’t take long for the wheels to fall off Danny Pennant’s car of credibility. After a promising enough start, where it was revealed he was bisexual and ended up sleeping with Janine Butcher, he was quickly reduced to being Janine’s lackey and was kept in mostly boring storylines involving his relationship with Lucy Beale ,that never really clicked with the average viewer. Danny was so mishandled in his second run on EastEnders that it makes me wonder why they bothered bringing him back to begin with and after he was revealed as the Walford Wonder (a name that makes me wonder if it subconsciously inspired the name of my blog), an anonymous male on a gay dating site who was stalking Johnny Carter, Lucy dumped him and Danny left Walford in shame, clinging onto a fistful of cash that Lucy had thrown at him. For the third villain in a row, I feel the need to point out something that was indicative of why they failed as a character. Danny had entered Walford as a successful city banker and had left broke and desperate. That’s just how it goes in Albert Square I suppose.

Most Memorable Moments: This won’t ring true for everybody but when I think of Danny Pennant, the first thing that goes into my mind is his banter with Michael Moon, Janine’s estranged husband who often feuded with Pennant. I enjoyed every scene with Michael and Daniel, as Mr Moon called him and found that he was the character Danny had the most chemistry with by far. What Danny is perhaps most known for by the average viewer, is initially being the most popular suspect with bookmakers and fans in the Who Killed Lucy storyline, even though he’d left Walford a good while before it happened. Granted, it could have been interesting viewing to see Danny return and reveal that he had killed Lucy in an act of revenge but it had already been made pretty clear that writers could not invest in him as a major villain and the police quickly revealed that he had been in living in Marbella when Lucy was killed.

Villain Four: Carl White

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First Appearance: June 2013

Final Appearance: January 2014

I have to admit that I loved Carl White, even if it was from a ‘he’s so bad I find him hilarious,’ perspective. In the same sense that Danny Mitchell was introduced to fill the void left by Archie Mitchell’s exit, Carl was pretty much brought in to fill the void left by Derek Branning’s departure. Granted, Derek Branning wasn’t close to a villain on the level of Archie Mitchell but I think that most viewers of the time will agree that he was leaps and bounds above Carl White, who screamed generic, non threatening and too much of a cliche from the minute he made his entrance into Walford, on a quest to claim back money that Derek Branning owed him, which had somehow ended up with Ian Beale.

Given a firm hold over Ian Beale and written to appear dominant against both Max Branning and Phil Mitchell, it’s not as if Carl White wasn’t pushed onscreen enough to succeed but as the months went on, it became more and more apparent that viewers just weren’t taking to him. Perhaps the biggest blow to Carl came when he hatched a plot which he hoped would eliminate both of his rivals for good. The convoluted scheme, that Carl hilariously told Max was coming, down to the exact day it would happen on, involved him taking Phil Mitchell out for a drive in a car that didn’t have functioning brakes, crashing the car seconds after releasing Phil’s seatbelt and then taking over Phil’s businesses while he was in hospital. During all of this he also got Max Branning arrested, after coercing poor Ian into claiming he had seen Max tampering with the car’s brakes. Boy do I feel stupid even typing all of that out.

Needless to say, this story only brought on mockery and derision by viewers and the media and Carl’s days in Walford were numbered, especially when Phil managed to take back his businesses with minimal fuss. As his exit story, Carl got together with an on the rebound Roxy Mitchell and got into a feud with Roxy’s sister Ronnie over their relationship, which led to his grisly and memorable end at the hands of Ronnie, who slammed a car boot down on his head, in retaliation to him attempting to rape her.

Humorously, a storyline after where Carl’s mum and brother tried to get answers from Ronnie about their son’s disappearance, was never truly resolved. Ronnie just got a few people to threaten Nora and Adam and that was it, they didn’t seem to care about Carl enough to push the matter further. With Ronnie and Roxy’s death this year, it can be assumed that this story will never have a resolution and that Carl’s skeleton is just set to lie there in the boot of a crushed up car for eternity and maybe that’s for the best.

Most Memorable Moments: As I’ve already said, Carl White’s death scenes were memorable in how gruesome and unpleasant they were but apart from that, most of the things he’ll be remembered for involve how bad a villain he was. The plot against Max and Phil stands out but only because of the sheer ridiculousness of it and I guess the fact his story never got resolved, makes him more notable than if it had been but apart from that Carl White was a true waste of such a concentrated attempt to create a new big villain.

Villain Five: Gavin Sullivan

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First Appearance: August 2015

Final Appearance: July 2016

Speaking of a waste of opportunity, no list of the worst villains in EastEnders’ recent history could be complete without the inclusion of Gavin Sullivan, a man who managed to bungle being the driving factor behind Kathy Beale’s fake death and Sharon Mitchell’s biological father. It was during this storyline that I began to get frustrated with EastEnders’ leadership under Dominic Treadwell-Collins and it’s pretty much all down to how corny and laughably handled Gavin was. Since he was supposed to be dead just like Kathy, Gavin would disappear and reappear for what felt like his entire EastEnders run, popping up to cause trouble for his wife and the Mitchells before vanishing and then resurfacing weeks later. This made it nearly impossible to connect with the character because he was gone and out of your mind for weeks after he’d done anything that remotely made an impact.

Just like with Carl, a concentrated effort was made to convince people he was a big deal but nothing ever seemed to work. The identity of Sharon’s biological father should have been an honour, that was enough to turn any character into a major EastEnders’ player but even that, coupled with actually giving Gavin, Den’s ‘Ello Princess,’ greeting didn’t help him. History of some major characters on the show was actually retconned, in order to give him the best chance to succeed but nothing seemed to help and by 2016 it was starting to become clear that The Powers That Be were getting tired of trying and failing to make Gavin Sullivan work.

After several long months of Denny, Sharon’s son, concealing the fact he was still in contact with his granddad, who had been paid off by Sharon to leave them all alone, Gavin’s time in EastEnders came to an end in the most hilarious and laughably bad fashion. In July he hatched a cunning scheme to coerce Kathy into visiting his newly bought, super villain mansion, where he planned to live happily ever after with the under duress Kathy and his solicitor sister, who was also involved in this plot for some reason but his evil plan backfired miserably. A lot of over the top, B Movie level stuff happened and Gavin accidentally sent his sister plunging to her death and ended up arrested by the police, never to be seen and rarely to be mentioned of again. It was TV gold and those disastrous episodes were almost enough to make me regret that Gavin was leaving. Almost.

Most Memorable Moments: Thanks to a heavy show of hand from writers, there’s lots about Gavin that has sewn him into the fabric of EastEnders history for the long term, with perhaps the most important being that he will always be known as the real father of Sharon Watts, unless somebody decides to retcon that in the future. From a personal standpoint, I’ll never forget those few precious episodes that were held in his mansion right at the end of his EastEnders run or the time they tried to make him seem a bigger deal, by showing Walford legend Dot Branning reminiscing that he was a troublemaker back in the day. When Gavin Sullivan was first introduced to EastEnders, Dominic Treadwell-Collins said that he hoped Gavin would be an EastEnders villain like no other and in a strange little way, he kind of was.

 

Thank you so much for reading today’s blog post. If you’d like to suggest any bad villains from the 2000s that I’ve missed out on, or have any thoughts on the credibility of these five, feel free to let me know in the comments section below or tweet me over on @heathyheath_ because I would love to hear from you. Maybe at some point in the future I’ll return with a similar post about five EastEnders villains of the 2000s who I consider to be the best but it’s probably worth waiting to see how well James Willmott-Brown and Luke Browning do in this current storyline before I commit to that. It would take a lot to join the likes of Michael Moon and Archie Mitchell on a list like that but you never know. Well, you probably do know.