With EastEnders currently on a break, the BBC One soap has given viewers the opportunity to revisit some of its finest episodes over the past couple of months.
The serial drama was forced to suspend production amid the Covid-19 pandemic, and episodes completed prior to the lockdown were rationed out at two a week.
The final pre-lockdown instalment aired June 16, which meant that — for the first time in history — the BBC soap was forced to go off the air. A revelation worthy of its own Doof Doof.
However, the serial drama cleverly used the break as an opportunity to remind us of why we fell in love with it in the first place, by going back in time and revisiting some of its most iconic moments.
From Pat and Peggy’s classic showdown, to Max and Stacey’s affair reveal, we’ve truly been blessed over the last couple of months.
Tonight’s hour-long episode is seemingly the last on offer — as two Secrets From The Square instalments air next week — so we thought we’d look back at some other classic outings that we, to be quite frank (Butcher), would love to see again.
The father of Michelle’s baby revealed
The nation was shocked back in 1985 when Michelle Fowler (Susan Tully) revealed to gran Lou (Anna Wing) that she was pregnant, but the big question that such a revelation brought with it was: who’s the father?
The answer arrived in the soap’s 66th instalment, as Michelle met Den Watts (Leslie Grantham) by the river — a location that would become their regular meeting spot — to discuss how to proceed.
The culmination of this episode — and thus, the mystery — featured the soap’s first full-length use of Julia’s Theme, which had only been used in shortened bursts prior.
Den and Angie’s Christmas divorce
Viewers were recently given the opportunity to witness the moment in which Angie (Anita Dobson) set in motion her plan to keep Den when she told him she only had six months to live, but it’s the culmination of this narrative that became the most iconic moment in the soap’s history.
In Christmas ’86, Den — having worked out her plan — issued Angie with divorce papers in a scene that was watched by over 30 million viewers, and we’d relish the chance to see it again in all its glory.
Dot and Ethel’s two-hander
The two-hander formula is only employed when necessary — think Angie on a mission to save her marriage, or Linda Carter (Kellie Bright) determined to get the truth out of Stuart Highway (Ricky Champ).
However, the two-hander between Dot Cotton (June Brown) and Ethel Skinner (Gretchen Franklin) — the soap’s 249th episode — boasted something a little different in that it was simply a Sunday afternoon conversation between old friends — much akin to a play — and superb dialogue and interesting revelations made it one of the soap’s finest (half) hours.
Dot and Ethel were arguably used for comedic purposes in the earlier days, but this instalment revealed the hardship that both had endured in a pre-EastEnders era, and ultimately strengthened the characters.
There were few soap matriarchs as iconic as Lou, and her exit is every bit iconic as she was, as — after sitting her faaaaaamily down in the infamous Fowler living room and giving them a piece of their mind — she revealed that she ‘could go now’, and headed out the door.
Eddie Royle’s death aftermath
Eddie Royle’s (Michael Melia) demise was something of a shock, and one of the soap’s first real attempts at a whodunit storyline — that is, unless we count the Walford ripper from ’87 — as the Queen Vic landlord was murdered in the gardens.
The episode which succeeded his demise saw the police question several of the soap’s mainstays, and clever editing — akin to the cuts you’d more likely see in a crime drama — intensified the atmosphere.
Mark opens up to Pauline and Arthur
Mark Fowler (Todd Carty) returned to Walford in 1990, and he found it difficult to open up to anyone — except for Diane Butcher (Sophie Lawrence).
In a truly groundbreaking episode from 1991, he revealed that he was HIV positive to mum Pauline (Wendy Richard) and dad Arthur (Bill Treacher).
Who Shot Phil?
Another one of Walford’s greatest mysteries saw the soap’s ultimate hard-man Phil (Steve McFadden) shot by an unknown assailant.
The legend has made no shortage of enemies during his time in Walford, so trying to work out who put a bullet in him was no doubt a tall task
However the truth eventually came out, as Lisa Fowler (Lucy Benjamin) was revealed to have been the one who pulled the trigger.
There are few moments in EastEnders — or in soap, for that matter — that are as iconic as Kat Slater’s (Jessie Wallace) revelation that Zoe (Michelle Ryan) is her daughter, and not her sister like we’d been led to believe.
In fact, the Tony Jordan-penned dialogue exchange between the two characters is quite possibly the most renowned line in soap history.
Den met his demise for a second time in 2005, in scenes that what would prove to be some of EastEnders’ most remembered, as the landlord was killed by wife Chrissie (Tracy Ann Oberman) with Pauline Fowler’s (Wendy Richard) dog-shaped doorstop!
Tanya buries Max alive
Tanya Branning (Jo Joyner) and lover Sean Slater (Rob Kazinsky) conspired to get rid of Max (Jake Wood) back in March 2008 — and how did she decide to do so?
By using his worst fear against him and burying him alive in the middle of the woods!
Unable to live with herself, Tanya returned to the scene of the crime, and saved Max before it was too late.
Ronnie Mitchell (Samantha Womack) learned that Walford resident Danielle Jones (Lauren Crace) was, in fact, the biological daughter she’d been searching an eternity for, but her happiness was short-lived as, mere moments after making the discovery, Danielle collided with Janine Butcher’s (Charlie Brooks) car.
A powerful — and somewhat Shakespearean — moment, this episode left the nation in shock, and was somewhat instrumental in cementing Ronnie as one of the soap’s most tragic — and yet incredibly compelling — characters.
We miss you, Ronnie!
The Queen Vic fire
There were few things in this world capable of getting Peggy Mitchell (Barbara Windsor) out from behind the bar of the Queen Vic, but the horrifying fire — which saw the iconic boozer incinerated — ultimately did the trick.
The 25th anniversary live episode
In order to celebrate the soap’s 25th anniversary, mainstay Bradley Branning (Charlie Clements) met his demise as he fell from the roof of the Queen Vic during the soap’s first ever live episode — mere moments before Stacey (Lacey Turner) revealed to Max that it was she who’d murdered Archie Mitchell (Larry Lamb) — a question the nation had been craving an answer to for several months.
Johnny comes out
Johnny Carter (Sam Strike) came out to Mick (Danny Dyer) amid the unpacking in a beautifully penned scene, as the young lad opened up to his dad on the couch of the living room.
Mick wasted little time in telling his son just how proud he was of him, before wrapping his arms around him and bringing him in for a hug.
With superb dialogue courtesy of legendary soap writer Daran Little — and exceptional performances from both Danny and Sam — this moment went down in EastEnders history pretty quickly.
Linda’s birthday party
The Carters have been at the centre of many a dramatic story since their arrival in Walford, but this particular episode highlights the clan at their best.
The episode in question saw Linda dress up like the queen that she is, receive a Wonder Woman-inspired birthday cake —no doubt a reference to actress Lynda Carter, who portrayed the superhero in the ’70s TV series — and listened to her entire family serenade her with a rendition of Spice Girl’s classic ‘Mama’.
This particular instalment was also turning point for Johnny, who hit it off with Gianluca Cavallo (Gabriele Lombardo), who he met at Pride the previous month.
The iconic episodes series showcased a few under-appreciated favourites, and therefore this one would be right at home if we were to see it again.
Lucy’s killer revealed
We revisited the thrilling hour-long episode from the Who Killed Lucy? saga that set in motion the discovery of the truth, but doing so no doubt left the nation wanting to see the next chapter of the story.
The subsequent episode was a flashback instalment, taking viewers back to the night in which Lucy (Hetti Bywater) died, and — in a special live scene — viewers discovered that Bobby (Eliot Carrington) had delivered the blow which took his sister’s life.
‘Who Killed Lucy?’ was superbly storylined and executed — so much so that it could’ve given even the great Twin Peaks a run for its money — and remains one of then-Executive Producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins’ greatest achievements.
Linda takes down Stuart
The ‘Who Killed Stuart’ narrative culminated in an epic fashion back in 2018 when — during a superb two-hander episode — Linda went to extreme lengths in order to extract the truth from the villainous Stuart, and ultimately succeeded in doing so.
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