Extramarital dalliances, paternity pickles, tearful farewells, and whodunit mysteries — the stuff of soap opera legend. And during its 34-year existence, EastEnders has had it all. What follows is but a small curated sampling of the program’s best-remembered episodes, moments, and storylines.
Not only were the Flowers having to contend with Pauline’s mid-life pregnancy but soon everybody was aware that 16-year-old Michelle was pregnant too. As it progressed, she kept her mouth firmly shut whenever the subject of the expectant father was broached.
There seemed to be a number of possibilities but he was revealed to be publican Den Watts, a gentleman two decades her senior and the adoptive father of her best friend, Sharon.
Den promised to be there for the baby and give Michelle financial compensation but he wasn’t interested in much else. He was already preoccupied with trying to extract himself from his drunkard wife Angie and begin life anew with his mistress Jan Hammond.
When he finally made moves to leave and insisted that the marriage was at an end, Angie had to think fast… and boy did she ever. “I’ve got six months to live. Not long is it, Den? Six little months.”
EastEnders – First Christmas
The two episodes broadcast on Christmas 1986 still remain this program’s — and indeed the entirety of UK serials — highest-rated. Den, having rumbled Angie’s lie, presented his wife with a petition for divorce, and Arthur Fowler suffered a nervous breakdown and trashed his home.
A Violent Act
Kathy Beale had spent the majority of her time on the series playing referee between her old-fashioned husband and their sensitive, forward-thinking son, but a major storyline in 1988 saw her fall victim to rapist Willmott Brown.
Although the event proved to be the undoing of her marriage to Pete, it also gave the character purpose as she worked tirelessly with the authorities to see her attacker brought to justice.
A Troubling Development
After spending a number of years away from his raucous family, Mark Fowler finally made his way back to Walford. Upon his return, Mark delivered some devastating news to parents Arthur and Pauline — he was HIV positive.
In a moment of weakness, Arthur gave in to his desire for Christine Hewitt and slept with her. When he confessed, Pauline responded by clobbering him with a frying pan!
After marrying Grant, Sharon quickly deduced that she was better suited for his older brother Phil. So, she corrected her mistake by indulging in a hot and heavy affair with the elder Mitchell.
Though it eventually ended, Sharon and Phil were hardly rewarded. Grant got a hold of a cassette tape that had a conversation between Sharon and Michelle during which the affair was mentioned and played it during Phil and Kathy’s engagement party at The Queen Vic.
The most sure-fire way to dampen the flames of passion is to suddenly go into labor. Not only was that event the impetus for ending Sonia and Jamie’s romantic evening but it was also a shock for Sonia, who didn’t even know that she was having a child!
Mother Knows Best
An argument between siblings Zoe and Kat over plans to emigrate — Zoe wanted to move to Spain with Uncle Harry — was brought to a screeching halt when an exacerbated Zoe shouted, “You ain’t my mother!” and a desperate Kat blubbered back, “Yes, I am!”
Turns out, Harry was both Zoe’s Uncle and her father, owing to the years he spent sexually abusing his young niece, Kat.
Pick A Number
Though Phil had once been the lesser of two evils, he eventually succumbed to the darkness that seemed to engulf all Mitchell men. So when someone plugged him full of lead while he stood outside his front door, it didn’t surprise many on Albert Square. In fact, Pauline thought, “It’s a miracle nobody shot him sooner!”
EastEnders: Up In Smoke
Phil survived his shooting but emerged none the wiser for it. Fast forward just a few years and he was now struggling with an addiction to crack cocaine. When mother bear Peggy tried to force him to quit cold turkey, he responded by torching the object of her affection and the perceived source of many of his woes: The Queen Vic.
The year 2014 was dominated by the question, “Who killed Lucy Beal?” There were a number of suspects but a heartbroken Ian eventually uncovered his teenage daughter had been murdered by her 11-year-old brother Bobby, who struck her during a moment of ire.
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