Beppe di Marco
|Beppe di Marco|
|Portrayed by||Michael Greco|
|First appearance||29 January 1998|
|Last appearance||4 June 2002|
|Introduced by||Jane Harris|
Beppe di Marco is a fictional character from the BBC soap opera EastEnders, played by Michael Greco. He made his first appearance on 29 January 1998, but was axed by executive producer John Yorke in 2002, with his final scene airing on 4 June 2002.
Beppe is his family's pride and joy, so it is a big shock to them when he is fired from the police force for attempting to frame local hardman Grant Mitchell (Ross Kemp). Beppe is the local heart-throb and he has numerous relationships in Albert Square, which all end in disaster.
Beppe first appears when George Palmer and Peggy Mitchell (Paul Moriarty and Barbara Windsor) attend his father's funeral in January 1998. He moves to Albert Square in February 1998, with the rest of his family: mother Rosa (Louise Jameson), brother Gianni (Marc Bannerman) and sisters Teresa (Leila Birch) and Nicky (Carly Hillman). Beppe's family come to Walford to open an Italian restaurant, while he has built himself a successful career in the police force, progressing through the ranks to the Vice squad.
Beppe is a single father to Joe (Jake Kyprianou). Joe's mother, Sandra (Clare Wilkie) had abandoned them when Joe was 10 months old - driven away by Beppe's interfering family, who never forgave her for not being Italian.
Upon his arrival, Beppe instantly clashes with the Mitchell brothers, Phil and Grant (Steve McFadden and Ross Kemp), who are known to dabble on the wrong side of the law and Beppe sees them as trouble makers. Beppe's animosity towards Grant, in particular, increases when he forms a close friendship with Grant's abused wife Tiffany (Martine McCutcheon). It isn't long before Beppe falls in love with Tiffany and urges her to leave Grant for him. Beppe confronts Grant in The Queen Victoria public house over his cruelty towards Tiffany and the pair brawl. Tiffany decides to leave Grant after she finds him in bed with her mother Louise (Carol Harrison) and she packs her bags ready to flee Walford with her and Grant's daughter, Courtney.
However, just as Tiffany is about to leave, she falls down the stairs, leading everyone to suspect that Grant had pushed her. Beppe is furious and arrests Grant for attempted murder. He also coerces Tiffany, who is recovering in hospital, to pretend Grant had pushed her in order to keep him locked up. Tiffany does but her conscience gets the better of her and she later writes a letter exonerating her husband of any wrongdoing and instructs her best friend, Bianca (Patsy Palmer), to hand it to the police after she has left Walford. However, before she leaves, she is killed in a car accident, whilst trying to reclaim her child from Grant, who has been released on bail the same day. Since Tiffany had been on the verge of eloping with Beppe, he never forgives Grant, and when he gets the letter that exonerates him, Beppe burns it rather than see his enemy cleared. Beppe is subsequently kicked off the force for withholding evidence and police misconduct. When Grant finds out about the letter, he punches Beppe.
Now out of work, Beppe gets a job as a cab driver working for Barry Evans (Shaun Williamson) and later embarks on a stormy relationship with Grant's little sister, Sam Mitchell (Danniella Westbrook). Sam takes the relationship more seriously than Beppe, and becomes extremely jealous of his platonic friendship with his flatmate Nina Harris (Troy Titus-Adams), so their relationship doesn't last long.
In 2000, Beppe becomes a partner with Steve Owen (Martin Kemp) and takes on management of his nightclub The E20. His police contacts come in handy soon after when drugs are found in the club and he manages to persuade them to turn a blind eye.
Also in 2000, Beppe's estranged wife Sandra arrives, hoping to gain access to their son, Joe. Although she is met with hostility at first, she and Beppe soon grow closer and eventually rekindle their romance, much to Beppe's family's disgust. Because of his ties, he also decides to stay in Walford when the rest of his family move to Leicester. Beppe is still in love with Sandra and soon begins pressurising her to have more children. The suggestion is met with hostility and she flatly refuses. Soon after, Beppe's old vice-squad partner, Jack Robbins (Chook Sibtain), arrives in Albert Square looking for Sandra. It turns out that Sandra had been involved with Jack for years before returning to Walford. She had left him following a miscarriage that left her unable to have children. Sandra tries to deny her feelings for Jack, but eventually she admits that she is still in love with him and has only reconciled with Beppe so she can get custody of her son. She and Jack reignite their romance and Sandra makes plans to flee Walford with Jack and Joe. However, Beppe catches them just as they are about to leave and when he realises what is going on he attacks Jack, takes Joe back and denies Sandra any access. Sandra and Jack subsequently threaten to take Beppe to court for custody of Joe. Beppe retaliates by using his police contacts to plant drugs on Jack, getting him sacked from the force. The constant rowing is having a negative effect on Joe and he finds it difficult to choose between his warring parents. This culminates in him getting hit by a car when he disobeys his father and runs across the road to be with his mother. Joe is not seriously hurt, but the accident makes his parents rethink their behaviour. Beppe eventually allows Sandra visitation rights and so she leaves Walford with Jack the following year.
In 2001, before Steve is killed in a car accident, Beppe buys out his share and becomes sole owner of the club, which is a massive shock to Steve's wife Mel (Tamzin Outhwaite), as she has been led to believe that she is the sole owner. During this period, Beppe spends much of his time having sex with anonymous women and dumping them when he gets bored. He even contracts a minor STD. Beppe becomes close to Lynne Slater (Elaine Lordan), who regularly babysits Joe whilst he is working, and she helps point out the error of his womanising ways. Beppe falls for Lynne and attempts to stop her marrying Garry Hobbs (Ricky Groves), but although Lynne is tempted, she goes ahead with the marriage.
Character creation and development
The Italian di Marco family were introduced early in 1998 by Series Producer Jane Harris. The di Marcos were a family of eight, consisting of grandparents Bruno and Luisa (Leon Lissek and Stella Tanner), their daughter-in-law Rosa, her children Beppe, Gianni, Teresa and Nicky, and Beppe's young son Joe. They were heralded as the "family that would rival the Mitchells", one of the most successful and long-running families to have been featured in EastEnders.
According to author Rupert Smith, the di Marcos "landed with an almighty thud in January , turning out in force for the funeral of patriarch Giuseppe", who was Rosa's husband and an old business associate of the character George Palmer. The following month, the family moved to the area in which the soap is set, Walford, to run an Italian restaurant, which was named Giuseppe's.
The di Marcos remained with the show as a unit until 2000, when the new executive producer, John Yorke, decided to cull the majority of the family. All except Beppe and his son Joe were written out. They were reportedly "slaughtered because of a shortage of ideas for what to do with them". A source allegedly told The Mirror: "It's always unpleasant having to say goodbye to people who have given loyal service to the show for a number of years. But John Yorke feels it's time to make his mark on the show. Every new producer likes to do the same. John wants to introduce a new family later this year and felt the Di Marcos had nowhere else to go. Their storylines were beginning to feel tired and that's a good time to make such a drastic change." However an official BBC spokesperson at the time commented: "These changes […] are just part of [John Yorke's] plans to revamp the series and give it a new look." The cuts paved the way for the arrival of the popular Slater family. Beppe and Joe remained until 2002, when they were axed too.
The di Marcos are now deemed as something of a failure for EastEnders. Since their departure, the family has even been mocked in an EastEnders official book, entitled EastEnders 20 Years In Albert Square. In the book, the author, Rupert Smith, writes :"Nobody really knew what to do with the di Marco family, who had been languishing in the pizza restaurant without a decent storyline between them. Finally, there was nothing else for it: the di Marcos would have to go. All of them…it was as if they'd never been".
Matthew Baylis of The Guardian has commented on their lack of success: "Thank heaven for off-screen uncles. As we saw during the hurried departure of the di Marco family from Albert Square, there's nothing like a fictitious relative when you need to get characters off the screen…The di Marcos' departure had its dodgy elements. A hitherto unheard-of uncle needs help in his restaurant, so the whole family ups sticks. Including Teresa - who'd always fought for independence from her family? Rosa, who presumably owned the house she'd transformed into something resembling an Imperial Palace, is suddenly prepared to leg it with a couple of suitcases? There was plenty that didn't ring true. But few viewers minded. There was, if anything, more sympathy for the programme-makers, trying valiantly to dispose of this singularly unpopular family while retaining an element of drama."
The di Marcos have been dismissed as "unconvincing characters". Baylis goes on to highlight a problem that he feels "dogged the whole family", their occupation as restaurateurs. Baylis believes this kept them "self-contained", and prevented them from establishing meaningful links with other characters. He explains: "[The di Marcos] had an ambiguity, heightened by the job they did. Soapland has no place for grey areas. Bad things happen to bad people. They also happen to good people, of course, but not for very long. To make this predictable universe work on the screen, you need characters who are relatively stable (even if they are unstable). The writers and the viewers buy into a myth that people aren't particularly complex, that the full range of their feelings and actions can be revealed in a few hours on the TV. And a quick, visible way of revealing characters is to mirror them in their occupation. Thus we have Pauline Fowler, long-suffering drudge and matriarch. What better job than folding pants all day in the launderette? Or Peggy [Mitchell] - tough but fun-loving and gregarious. So she runs the pub. But what attributes spring to mind when we think of Italian restaurants? Fond of pasta, perhaps? Permanently overworked? The job never provided an easy route into understanding the di Marcos' characters…The most visible jobs tend to be taken by the strongest, most vivid characters. Confined to their restaurant, the di Marcos could only become involved in Walford life when other characters came over to eat a carbonara. And how often do working-class East End people do that? If any di Marco wanted a night out, a pint in the Vic, a clandestine liaison, then an excuse had to be found as to why they weren't working. Transforming Giuseppe's into a daytime sandwich bar, and sending Teresa onto the market were bold rescue attempts, but they came too late. The viewers had already decided they didn't much care…Because of their jobs, the di Marcos became a largely self-contained unit…"
In popular culture
The character of Beppe di Marco has been spoofed in the cartoon sketch show 2DTV, as well as impersonated by Alistair McGowan on his show, The Big Impression. In spite of his non-existence in real life, he was reported by a British newspaper as being in the womanising circuit with comedian Russell Brand on the last series of Big Brother's Big Mouth in 2006, something that Brand satirised in his live show.
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