Cindy Williams (EastEnders)
Mimi Keene as Cindy Williams
|Portrayed by||Ella Wortley (1998–99)
Cydney Parker (1998–99)
Eva Sayer (2007)
Mimi Keene (2013–)
|Duration||1998–99, 2007, 2013–|
|First appearance||9 November 1998|
|Introduced by||Matthew Robinson (1998)
Diederick Santer (2007)
Lorraine Newman (2013)
Chip shop assistant
Cindy Williams is a fictional character from the BBC soap opera EastEnders, played by four actresses since being introduced in 1998. Her mother, Cindy Beale (Michelle Collins), dies in labour with her, and she is therefore brought up by her maternal grandmother and aunt off-screen. Ella Wortley and Cydney Parker both portrayed the role from 1998 to 1999, followed by Eva Sayer in a brief appearance in 2007. On 18 July 2013, it was announced that Cindy would return to the series as a regular character, with Mimi Keene taking over the role. Cindy leaves her home in Devon, to join her half-siblings Peter (Ben Hardy) and Lucy Beale (Hetti Bywater) in Walford. Since being re-established in 2013, she has featured in storylines that see her learn of (and subsequently come to terms with) the murder of sister Lucy, and also become a teenage mother to daughter Beth Williams.
Cindy Williams (Ella Wortley and Cydney Parker) is born to Cindy Beale (Michelle Collins) and half-Italian Nick Holland (Dominic Taylor) on 5 November 1998 in prison, as her mother is serving time for attempting to murder her former husband Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt). Cindy Sr dies shortly after the birth due to an embolism, and Nick had severed ties with her after realizing her true nature and knowing she is guilty of shooting Ian, leaving her with no money for a lawyer. He never returned for his daughter, so Cindy goes to live with her grandmother Bev Williams (Diane Langton) and aunt Gina (Nicola Cowper) in Devon. Ian, who had previously met his late wife's daughter at her funeral, is aware of the responsibility he has towards Cindy Jr as her guardian, and is concerned as to who should care for her. However, Bev is unwilling to look after Cindy due to her age and suggests that Ian has her, but Gina, who is unable to have children, contests this. She is subsequently given custody of Cindy.
Ian visits Gina and Cindy in 2007, thinking Gina is sending him poison pen letters as Cindy Sr. Upon arriving at her house and entering without permission, he is unnerved by the shrine Gina has created in her living room. Gina greets Ian from behind a shotgun, frightening him, but she then assures him that she and her dead sister have put the past behind them. Ian is further concerned when Gina says she regularly "converses with" Cindy Sr, who had even told her to expect Ian's visit. He accuses Gina of stalking him and isn't convinced when she denies responsibility and advises her to seek professional help. Gina then reintroduces an 8-year-old Cindy (Eva Sayer) to Ian. He is later kidnapped by the real stalker, Cindy's son Steven Beale (Aaron Sidwell). Ian's wife Jane Beale (Laurie Brett) becomes frantic, and when Gina arrives in Walford to give Ian a photo of Cindy Jr, Jane is furious, and accuses Gina of terrorising Ian, leading to them nearly coming to blows. Gina then leaves.
In August 2013, 14-year-old Cindy (now Mimi Keene) breaks into Ian's house in Walford, wanting to see her half-brother Peter (Ben Hardy) about something that happened in Devon. Peter tries to drive her away, but Ian allows her to stay. Cindy is difficult, stealing money from Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden) and winning the Miss Teen Vic beauty pageant by persuading Patrick Trueman (Rudolph Walker) to rig the votes. Despite having attracted the attention of Liam Butcher (James Forde), she has a one-night stand with TJ Spraggan (George Sargeant). She realizes she is pregnant in January 2014 but hides this from Ian as she fears that he will send her back to Devon. Depressed, Cindy drinks heavily and has sex with Liam. She is later found in a paralytic state by Tina Carter (Luisa Bradshaw-White), who takes her to hospital. When Ian discovers her pregnancy, he confronts Liam, prompting TJ to admit he is the father. Cindy and TJ decide to raise their baby together, despite initial concern from both families. Cindy later struggles to hide her resentment over Ian favouring her half-sister Lucy (Hetti Bywater), and tells him and Jane that Lucy has a cocaine addiction. Soon after, Lucy is murdered on Good Friday. Cindy reveals Lucy's addiction to the police, angering Ian, as he is convinced Lucy only took drugs as a one-off. He throws her out, sending her back to Devon with Gina. Cindy attends Lucy's funeral but when Ian tries to make amends, she reminds him that she knows he is lying about his alibi.
A heavily pregnant Cindy returns to Walford and meets Ian, who is trying to reconcile with fiancée Denise Fox (Diane Parish). He shows little interest until he notices Cindy is in labour, and she admits that she ran away after discovering Gina and Bev were planning to have her baby adopted. Ian helps her deliver her daughter Beth Williams, who she names after singer Beth Ditto. She reconciles with Ian, but this is marred by Denise leaving him and TJ struggling to bond with Beth. TJ admits he cannot cope with being a father and moves to Milton Keynes with his family. Cindy struggles to cope with being a single mother. She confides in Liam but when she tries to kiss him, he turns her down realising that it would be for the wrong reasons. Jane visits, looking for Cindy's adoptive brother Bobby (Eliot Carrington), who has run away from Birmingham. After Masood Ahmed (Nitin Ganatra) finds Bobby, Jane and Bobby move into Masood's. When Peter returns from New Zealand, Ian briefly disowns him after discovering he gave Lucy drugs, ruining his proposal to girlfriend Lauren Branning (Jacqueline Jossa). Cindy attempts to throw a party for Peter's 21st birthday, but this backfires as he is painfully reminded of his sister. However, he makes amends with Ian. During the annual carol service, Jane proposes to Ian and he accepts. The family spend Christmas Day with the Brannings. Cindy finds a present addressed to Beth; inside is Lucy's jewellery box. Former police officer Emma Summerhayes (Anna Acton) tries to get information from Cindy in her grief about her involvement in Lucy's death, but fails.
Ian and Jane remarry in February 2015, but Cindy comes home to find Ian and Jane arguing – Ian and Peter think Jane murdered Lucy. Jane says that she killed Lucy following a row, but Ian realizes Jane's story does not add up and later works out the actual killer is in fact Bobby. Jane admits she was protecting Bobby after she saw him standing over Lucy with the jewellery box. She then left the body on the common but Bobby is unaware he is the killer as Jane told him that Lucy was alright and was killed by someone else. Seeing how much trauma Jane has suffered since Lucy's death, the family decide that they will keep the truth from Bobby. However, Peter leaves for New Zealand with Lauren, feeling unable to stay after everything that has happened. When Ian and Jane leave for their honeymoon, they take Beth with them to allow Cindy some time to herself. Cindy continues to see Liam and confides in him that she misses her teenage life before she became a mother. After Ian and Jane return, Cindy is unable to bond properly with her daughter and shows signs of stress when she struggles to handle Beth's repetitive crying. During a walk, Cindy abandons Beth in the park but when she returns to collect her, Beth is not there. A panicked Cindy later finds her with Liam, and fearing that she will be unable to be a good mother, decides to put her up for adoption. When Ian and Jane suggest they adopt Beth, Cindy threatens to leave. After Ian admits that he is using Beth as a distraction from all the pain he endured in losing Lucy, Cindy changes her mind and realises that she does not want Beth to be adopted by strangers. Wanting her daughter to grow up with her family, she agrees to let the Beales adopt Beth.
Creation and development
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Conception, birth and custody battle
In 1995, Cindy Beale's chaotic relationship to husband Ian Beale had been struggling for some time. The marriage was already damaged by both partners' selfishness and Cindy's promiscuity, with Cindy growing tired of Ian, which led to the start of an affair with Ian's brother David Wicks (Michael French). However, Ian discovered their relationship and vowed to obtain custody of their children, Steven, Peter and Lucy. By October 1996, Cindy snapped and hired a hitman to kill Ian; when this proved unsuccessful she fled the country with the help of David and Barry Evans (Shaun Williamson), taking Steven and Peter to Italy.
Viewers saw her begin an affair with businessman Nick Holland (Dominic Taylor) in 1997, before she was tracked by a private investigator, with her sons abducted and taken back to England. Cindy, who had been forced to leave Lucy behind, was desperate to have her back - and followed Ian back to Walford with Nick. After gaining custody of her children, she was arrested moments later for attempted murder when Ian's associates persuade the hitman, John Valecue (Steve Weston), to tell the police that Cindy hired him. Ian is then given custody of their children, with Cindy being charged and held on remand. Although she had become pregnant with Nick's child, he abandoned her in prison after realizing her true nature and knowing she is guilty of shooting Ian.
Cindy Beale later gave birth to her daughter (Ella Wortley and Cydney Parker) off-screen in prison, but Ian was later informed that she had died in childbirth from an embolism. He was forced to break the news to their children, which devastated him. On attending her funeral, Ian met Cindy's daughter and her mother Bev Williams (Diane Langton), who suggested Ian should have custody of the baby, and Cindy was named after her mother. However, Bev's other daughter Gina (Nicola Cowper), who was unable to have children, fought Ian for custody and won. Cindy was therefore not seen again until 2007, where she made a brief appearance, played by Eva Sayer, when Ian visited Devon thinking Gina was sending him poison pen letters as Cindy.
2013 reintroduction, teenage pregnancy and Lucy's death
On 18 July 2013, EastEnders revealed that Cindy would be returning, with the role recast to actress Mimi Keene, who had previously performed in Kin at London's Royal Court Theatre during 2010, before starring in Sadie J and war drama Our Girl. Keene made her first appearance as Cindy on 20 August 2013. Cindy's arrival to Walford saw the Beales discover her in their home after she had broke in; the character had been brought up by her aunt Gina in Devon before she ran away. Her relationship with her half-brother Peter Beale (Ben Hardy) was initially portrayed as strained when she threatened to uncover a secret about his past in Devon. During a camping holiday, it was revealed that he had gone swimming in the sea with his best friend to disperse their hangovers. However, Peter had goaded him to head out further, which led to him being dragged away by rip tides to his death. Her troublesome behaviour continued when she stole money from Ian's long-time enemy Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden) and later persuaded Patrick Trueman (Rudolph Walker) to help her win the Miss Teen Vic beauty pageant by rigging the votes.
In January 2014, Carol Jackson (Lindsey Coulson) discovered a positive pregnancy test in the bin, which was revealed to belong to Cindy, who had slept with Bianca Jackson (Patsy Palmer)'s stepson TJ Spraggan (George Sargeant) earlier aged 15, despite having attracted the attention of Bianca's son Liam Butcher (James Forde). Upon realising she was pregnant, Cindy hid this from Ian in fear that he would send her back to Devon. She then missed school to engage in a drinking session with Liam, but the subsequent alcohol poisoning would nearly result in a miscarriage. When Ian discovered her pregnancy and confronted Liam, this prompted TJ to admit he was the father. Cindy and TJ decide they are committed to raising their baby together, despite initial concern from both families. 
Good Friday 2014 marked the beginning of a storyline which would see Keene's co-star Hetti Bywater and on-screen half-sister Lucy Beale leave the show in what was described as a "raw", "emotional" and "gritty" plot - executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins had previously hinted towards Bywater's departure at an EastEnders press event in December 2013, stating that there would be a big, big Beale story that will hit around Easter and keep going until the anniversary. On-screen, Lucy had left her house, only to receive a text from an unknown person. She exited the square, only to be seen several hours later lying dead on the common, whilst various messages from friends and family were heard playing on her phone. Her body was found the following morning, and police visited Ian to inform him of her death; the post-mortem report would later confirm that Lucy was murdered after it revealed she had suffered a deliberate head injury. Of the decision to kill off her character, Bywater said that she expected the storyline to have a big impact on viewers because Lucy had been in the show for 20 years, but also because of the Beale family being so iconic, being EastEnders' longest serving family. She added that she felt it would be the start of a new dark chapter for the family as the focus was going to be on the repercussions of the death, about "the implications of [the murder] and everyone's journey." Shortly before Lucy's death, Cindy had revealed her sister's cocaine addiction. Ian then threw her out, forcing her to leave for Devon with Gina. She makes a brief return for the funeral to say goodbye to Lucy, but when Ian tries to apologise, she simply reminds him that she knows he is lying about his alibi on the night Lucy died.
Cindy returned to Walford on 28 August heavily pregnant, and met up with Ian. He had been attempting to reconcile with his fiancée Denise Fox (Diane Parish), but helped her deliver her daughter Beth Williams. The aftermath of her child's birth saw Denise end her stale relationship with Ian, and TJ's inability to cope with fatherhood. His exit from the square in September integrated with that of Palmer's character, as Bianca left with TJ's father Terry Spraggan (Terry Alderton) and their two families for a new life in Milton Keynes. In the wake of his departure, Cindy struggled to cope with being a single mother to her daughter, as well being one amongst a crowd of 14 possible murder suspects, after the list was officially narrowed down. During the EastEnders Live Week, Ian and Jane remarried on 19 February 2015 during the broadcast from 17–20 February 2015 to mark the celebrations of the show's 30th anniversary. The episodes all featured live elements, with an entirely live episode on the 20th. Cindy returned home after the reception to find Ian and Jane in a heated argument - Ian and Peter thought Jane murdered Lucy. Lauren had told Peter that Lucy was killed at home, and Jane said that she killed Lucy following a row they had that night, but Ian began to notice that Jane's story doesn't add up and later works out that the real killer is in fact Bobby. This had been revealed in a flashback episode airing on 19 February, with Hetti Bywater, Tanya Franks and Jamie Lomas returning to reprise their roles as Lucy, prostitute Rainie Cross and alcoholic Jake Stone, which showed the events of what happened on the night of Lucy's death. When questioned, Jane is forced to admit she was protecting Bobby after she had seen him standing over Lucy with the jewellery box. Jane had then left the body on the common, but Bobby is unaware he is the murderer as Jane told him that Lucy went out with friends after returning home, and was killed by someone else. The family made the decision that they will keep the identity of Lucy's killer secret from Bobby and everyone else, but Peter, feeling unable to stay after everything that has happened, decided to leave Walford with Lauren to live in New Zealand.
After Carol Jackson discovered an abandoned pregnancy test in January 2014, she was seen to inquire with family members - possible owners included Carol's daughter Bianca and Peter's ex-girlfriend Lauren Branning. A week later, the test was revealed to belong to Cindy when she was seen to go for an abortion. She had fallen pregnant with TJ Spraggan's baby after a one-night stand, but afterwards decided to keep the baby, before the truth was revealed to their two families. The storyline subsequently received minor negativity from fans, with the Metro's Amy Duncan revealing that some viewers were outraged by what had been deemed as a "gross underage pregnancy storyline". Several EastEnders fans then commented on Twitter to voice their displeasure over the episodes: one said they "[couldn't] be arsed with Cindy being pregnant in Eastenders [...] She has a 5 min cameo every month how is she gonna cope with this storyline?", whilst another felt that the storyline was "just promoting underage pregnancies tbh" rather than actually raising awareness about the issue. Despite this, Keene went on to be nominated in 2014 in the category of "Best Young Performance" at the British Soap Awards for her portrayal of Cindy, but lost to Hollyoaks child actor Ellis Hollins. Anna Howell of Unreality TV praised Keene's birth scenes in an article on who they thought had given the best performances of 2014, with Cindy giving birth to baby Beth rated third on their list for EastEnders. Howell branded Keene's performance as "one of the most powerful, and convincing labour scenes [Unreality TV] have ever seen", and stated that whilst many women had portrayed childbirth in the soaps over the years, given Keene’s age and limited experience in soap acting, felt it was worth "a massive mention at just how well this young girl handled something quite as dramatic as the birth of her on-screen daughter."
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