List of EastEnders characters (1996)

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The following is a list of fictional characters that first appeared in the BBC soap opera EastEnders in 1996, by order of first appearance.

Michael Rose[edit]

Michael Rose
EastEnders character
Portrayed by Russell Floyd
Duration 1996–99
First appearance 15 February 1996
Last appearance 19 October 1999
Classification Former; regular
Profile
Occupation Market Inspector

Michael Rose, played by Russell Floyd, first appears in Walford as a Market Inspector in 1996. He initially has very few storylines, but he is chosen to be the best man at Terry Raymond (Gavin Richards)'s wedding (which is later called off). He has a crush on April Branning (Debbie Arnold) but no relationship ever develops between them. Then there is the arrival of his teenage son Matthew (Joe Absolom) and former wife Susan Rose (Tilly Vosburgh) in 1997.

His ex-wife Susan is suffering from multiple sclerosis and Michael ends up caring for her. Eventually he and Susan get back together and seem happy until the arrival of Lisa Shaw (Lucy Benjamin) who is also a Market Inspector. He and Lisa become attracted to each other and have an affair behind Susan's back. Michael ends the affair and decides to leave Walford with Susan and start a new life in Leeds, with Susan unaware of the affair.

He returns occasionally in 1999 when his son Matthew is wrongly imprisoned for the murder of Saskia Duncan (Deborah Sheridan-Taylor). Michael's last appearance is in October 1999, attending Matthew's trial. When the jury returns a guilty verdict Michael screams that his son is innocent.

Sal Martin[edit]

Main article: Sal Martin

Sal Martin, often referred to as Aunt Sal,[1] played by Anna Karen, from 21 March 1996 until 4 April 2011.[2] She appeared sporadically over the years, usually for only one or two episodes at a time. Sal collectively featured in 41 episodes of the show from 1996 to 2011. She will return in November 2013. In February 1996, it was announced that comedy actress Anna Karen would be joining the cast of EastEnders as Peggy Mitchell's sister Sal. Anna Karen and the actress who plays Peggy, Barbara Windsor, are "best friends" in reality and Windsor has expressed how happy she was to have Karen on the cast of EastEnders.[3][4]

Ben Mitchell[edit]

Ben Mitchell has been played by four different actors. Matthew Silver appeared as an infant Ben from 1996–98, and Morgan Whittle played him as a toddler from 1999–2000. After a six-year absence from the series, Charlie Jones assumed the role of Ben in 2006. Executive producer Bryan Kirkwood axed Jones as part of a series revamp in 2010; the role was recast to Joshua Pascoe later that year. Having previously appeared as a baby and a toddler, Ben returned to EastEnders in 2006 played by child actor Charlie Jones. Jones was cast alongside Megan Jossa, who would play his cousin Courtney Mitchell.[5] While Ben is partially deaf, Jones is a hearing actor. The Guardian's Rebecca Atkinson suggested that, as only the second disabled character in EastEnders's history, Ben was introduced to fulfil a BBC quota. She criticised Jones' casting, and opined, "The use of able-bodied actors to play disabled characters is endemic. Maybe in theory there's nothing wrong with that, but while real disabled people are invisible it is downright offensive to persistently cast able-bodied people in disabled roles."[6]

Joe Wicks[edit]

Main article: Joe Wicks

Joe Wicks, played by Paul Nicholls, appears on screen between 25 March 1996 and 14 November 1997. EastEnders was praised for the character's portrayal of schizophrenia. EastEnders story editor, Ian Aldwinkle, decided to introduce a character with schizophrenia after working on the drama series Casualty, which featured violent and dramatic incidents involving people with the illness, but only focussed on the medical side. Aldwinkle researched the illness and says he was shocked to discover that it affects one in 100 people, but it was rarely spoken about. He said: "Because it has a continuing storyline, EastEnders was able to look at the effect that schizophrenia has on a family and on individual relationships. I wanted to humanise it and look at the emotional impact it has on people."[7] He said he hoped that the storyline would be helpful, saying "It seems to me that mental illness is one of the last subjects that you can still make jokes about without being labelled politically incorrect, and that seems wrong. If I get just one letter from one person saying that the character of Joe Wicks has helped to change their life for the better, then I will be pleased."[7]

Lorraine Wicks[edit]

Main article: Lorraine Wicks

Lorraine Wicks, played by Jacqueline Leonard, is introduced in April 1996, as the former wife of the already established character David Wicks (Michael French). She is brought into the serial along with her son Joe Wicks (Paul Nicholls).[8] Author Kate Lock has described Lorraine as "relentlessly sensible, fair and nice" but with a "rogue gene" that prompted her to select the wrong kind of men.[9] As well as a high-profile storyline concentrating on Joe's diagnosis of schizophrenia, Lorraine's most prominent storyline is a love triangle between herself, Grant Mitchell (Ross Kemp) and Grant's wife Tiffany (Martine McCutcheon). In the storyline, Lorraine discovers that Tiffany is keeping a secret from Grant - that he is potentially not the father of her unborn child. When Tiffany refuses to tell Grant the truth, Lorraine does, making way for them to become a legitimate couple, albeit briefly. Leonard commented in December 1996, "Lorraine has had a year on her own and she feels that she probably needs a bit of contact - and Grant's quite macho. It was very interesting from my point of view because Lorraine could be perceived as being bitchy and she's not. She genuinely cares about Tiffany and their marriage and the baby and she wants the whole situation sorted out. But she and Grant do like each other and care about each other and it loses control a bit."[10]

Alistair Matthews[edit]

Alistair Matthews
EastEnders character
Portrayed by Neil Clark
Duration 1996–97
First appearance 23 April 1996
Last appearance 31 March 1997
Classification Former; recurring
Profile
Occupation Store manager

Alistair Matthews, played by Neil Clark, is a store manager who catches Sarah Hills (Daniela Denby-Ashe) shoplifting in April 1996, but promises not to call the police if she attends his Christian fellowship and turns her back on her sinful ways. Sarah is captivated by Alistair's Christian preachings and joins his fellowship. Frankie Pierre (Syan Blake) is drawn to Alistair too, and when he turns her advances down, she spreads rumours that they were sexually involved; although Alistair publicly denies this, causing Frankie's downfall in Walford.

Alistair condemns Sarah for having pre-marital sex with Robbie Jackson (Dean Gaffney) during a crisis of faith. However, Sarah is hurt to discover that Alistair does not practice the piety that he preaches, and when she realises that he is having pre-marital sex with his girlfriend Sue Taylor, she denounces him publicly in front of his congregation.

Jim Branning[edit]

Main article: Jim Branning

Jim Branning is a fictional character from the BBC soap opera EastEnders, played by John Bardon. First appearing on 29 April 1996 and becoming a regular character in 1999, he remains in the series right until 2011. Jim was written out of the show in August 2007 due to Bardon suffering a stroke. A storyline was created where Jim also suffers a stroke. It was reported on 10 March 2008 that Bardon would be returning to the role of Jim in summer 2008.[11] Bardon returned to film four episodes in the latter half of 2008. He returned permanently from the episode broadcast on 20 August 2009. On 1 April 2011 it was reported by the Daily Mirror that Bardon had filmed his final scenes and had left. He departed on 26 May 2011. On the behest of producer John Yorke in 2000, Jim was paired romantically with pensioner Dot Cotton, played by June Brown; a slow courtship is featured, with Dot often shown to be outraged by Jim's advances, resulting in numerous rejections. Dot finally succumbs and accepts his marriage proposal in an episode that first aired in November 2001; the scenes were filmed inside one of the carriages of the London Eye on the South Bank of the River Thames. Their wedding first aired on 14 February 2002, Valentine's Day. The Guardian critic, Nancy Banks-Smith, described the wedding as "uniquely uneventful [...] For Dot and Jim 'In sickness and health... till death do us part' seemed to carry more resonance than for most."[12]

Suzy Branning[edit]

Main article: Suzy Branning

Suzy Branning (originally known as Sue) is the daughter of Jim and Reenie Branning (John Bardon and Joy Graham). She is first seen in 1996 for her sister April Branning (Debbie Arnold)'s wedding to her fiancé Nikos, along with her children, Rebecca and Kevin. Initially played by Julie Christian-Young in 1996, Maggie O'Neill took over the role in 2008.[13] O'Neill began filming in May 2008, and she made her first on-screen appearance as Suzy on 8 July 2008.[14] She made her last appearance on Boxing Day 2008.

Derek Branning[edit]

Main article: Derek Branning

Derek Branning, played by Terence Beesley in 1996 and Jamie Foreman from 2011 to 2012, is the eldest child of Jim Branning (John Bardon) and Reenie Branning (Joy Graham). Derek made his first appearance on 29 April 1996 and departed not long after. The character returned as a regular character on 24 November 2011, played by Foreman.[15] Derek is originally portrayed as a racist and is against his sister Carol (Lindsey Coulson) marrying Alan (Howard Antony). Derek is described as a "charmer"[citation needed] and "proper East-End".[citation needed] In an interview with Daybreak, Foreman said he wants viewers to "like Derek".[citation needed] Discussing Derek's personality, Foreman told TV Choice: "There's always this little undercurrent of, 'This guy isn't who we want around for long', if you see what I mean. Derek's just come back from a 10-year prison sentence for armed robbery. He's a very complicated character, who could either be perceived as a bully or as someone who cares for his family very much."[citation needed] The character was killed-off on Christmas Day 2012, after suffering a heart attack.

Reenie Branning[edit]

Reenie Branning
EastEnders character
Portrayed by Joy Graham
First appearance 29 April 1996
Last appearance 30 April 1996
Classification Former; guest
Profile
Occupation Retired

Doreen "Reenie" Branning played by Joy Graham, is the first wife of Jim Branning (John Bardon), and mother of Derek Branning (Jamie Foreman) April Branning (Debbie Arnold), Carol Jackson (Lindsey Coulson), Suzy Branning (Maggie O'Neill), Max Branning (Jake Wood) and Jack Branning (Scott Maslen).

Reenie had dated Jim in the early 1950s and gave birth to their oldest child Derek out of wedlock. When she got pregnant again with daughter April, Jim then stepped up and proposed, and they married in a shotgun wedding. However they never got on well together and fought like cat and dog, but Reenie depended heavily on her husband and whenever they got close to separating and ending their marriage, she got pregnant. This resulted in her giving birth, in chronological order, to Derek (1960), April (1961),[9] Carol (1962), Suzy (1966),[16] Max(1969)[17] and Jack (1972).[18]

Reenie was said to be very maternal and doted on all of her children, despite their faults. She was particularly close to her oldest daughter April, whilst her relationship with daughters Carol and Suzy was notably strained due to their choice of lifestyle. She was also said to be very distraught when her son Max walked out on the family in 1989, and despite keeping in regular contact with her grandson Bradley (Charlie Clements) and Max's ex-wife Rachel, she rarely saw Max and disapproved of his mistress, Tanya Cross (Jo Joyner) who he went onto marry. Reenie appears on-screen in April 1996, in the lead-up to April's wedding to her fiancé Nikos.

Off-screen, in October 1999 it is revealed that Reenie is critically ill, and her daughter Carol leaves Walford to care for her. A few weeks later Reenie dies, and it is mentioned by her grandson Robbie (Dean Gaffney) that her funeral was attended by Carol, Carol's ex-husband Alan (Howard Antony) and her grandchildren Robbie, Sonia (Natalie Cassidy) and Billie (Devon Anderson). Her oldest granddaughter Bianca (Patsy Palmer) was notably not present at the funeral due to her feud with her mother. A month after her demise Reenie's husband Jim arrives in Walford to care for their grandchildren Robbie and Sonia after Carol reconciles with Alan.

Huw Edwards[edit]

Huw Edwards, played by Richard Elis,[19] is introduced in 1996 and remains on-screen till 1999.[20] Welsh actor Richard Elis was cast in the minor role of Huw for a period of three episodes in 1996; however, producers enjoyed the character and his contract was extended.[21] It was reported in December 1998 that executive producer Matthew Robinson had axed Huw because the character was "going nowhere".[22] However, Elis claimed in 2010 that he decided to leave the role in 1999 after three years playing Huw as he feared being typecast. Elis has commented, "My agent at the time told me that if you are in a soap for three years, it takes three years for the viewers to forget you, whereas if you are in one for five years, it takes another 10 years before they forget you. I just felt it was time to go. It was great to be on it but it was just a job to me."[21]

Lenny Wallace[edit]

Main article: Lenny Wallace

Lenny Wallace, played by Desune Coleman, is a fun loving individual, who doesn't take life too seriously. He has a penchant for loud music and an eye for the ladies. Lenny is first seen in Walford in May 1996. Lenny, along with his Welsh friend, Huw Edwards (Richard Elis), are employed by George Palmer (Paul Moriarty) as barmen for the Cobra Club. Lenny has a keen interest in speedway motorbike racing, and takes Ricky Butcher (Sid Owen) along with him on one occasion. Ricky turns out to be quite a skilled racer and Lenny is soon persuading him to take up speedway racing professionally so he can be his manager. He is sacked shortly after when Ricky's wife Bianca (Patsy Palmer) decides to take over the job in his place. Lenny begins work as a barman again in 1998, firstly for Annie Palmer (Nadia Sawalha) until she fires him, and then for Steve Owen (Martin Kemp).

Simon Raymond[edit]

Main article: Simon Raymond

Simon Raymond, played by Andrew Lynford, is introduced in 1996 as the homosexual brother of Tiffany Mitchell (Martine McCutcheon). His relationship with the bisexual character Tony Hills (Mark Homer) featured a gay kiss that caused controversy in the UK; numerous complaints were made because of its broadcasting. Simon remained in the serial until 1999, at which time it was mutually agreed between Lynford and executive producer Matthew Robinson, that the character had run its course. The character is given a happy ending, reuniting with his former boyfriend Tony to travel Europe. Lynford has suggested that he and the writers of EastEnders intended to portray Simon as a "perfectly normal" young gay man who would entertain and educate and for whom sexuality was "no big deal".[23]

Frankie Pierre[edit]

Main article: Frankie Pierre

Frankie Pierre[24] appeared between 1996 and 1997, played by Syan Blake.[25] Frankie is introduced as a "super-bitch" and home wrecker. She attempts to ruin the established relationships of several characters during her year in the soap, purposefully seducing attached men. Frankie’s arrival in June 1996 is part of a storyline that breaks up the marriage of the characters Alan and Carol Jackson (Howard Antony and Lindsey Coulson).[26] Frankie eventually departs in March 1997 amidst a failed attempt at seducing a religious evangelist, Alistair Matthews (Neil Clark), who had been trying to make her change her promiscuous lifestyle. Off-screen it was reported that Syan Blake and the producers of EastEnders had decided to write the character out of the serial, as the actress was receiving death threats from angry fans that could not separate fact from fiction, and blamed Blake for her character’s home-wrecking. The official EastEnders book Who’s Who states that Frankie “had a carnivorous approach to relationships, hunting down her quarry, devouring her victim in two gulps and then moving onto the next kill.”[9][27]

Mick McFarlane[edit]

Main article: Mick McFarlane

Mick McFarlane, played by Sylvester Williams, is an easy-going guy, who hopes to make it big as a musician. However his music career fails and he ends up selling CDs on a market stall in Albert Square. After several ill-fated attempts at a career change, he finally gets a chance of a music career when he is asked to tour with a band. Mick reluctantly decides to turn the offer down as he is the legal guardian of his half-sister, Kim McFarlane (Krystle Williams). However, Kim contacts Mick's musician contact and accepts the gig on his behalf. Kim is adamant that Mick should follow his dream, and so Mick leaves Kim in the care a relative away from the square, and leaves Walford for the tour in January 2002.

George Palmer[edit]

George Palmer, played by Paul Moriarty, appears between 1996 and 1998. Actor Paul Moriarty was asked to read for the role of George along with 10 other actors.[23] Moriarty was called back instantly and asked to begin working on the role the following day. He has commented to an American fan-based publication, "[It was] quite overwhelming. I had watched the show but not religiously [...] So I show up at [the studios in] Borehamwood the very next day, straight to make-up and then onto [the soap's setting of] Albert Square to do my first bit [...] I might just as well have landed on Mars."[23] George had been described as "shady".[28] The character was one of many to be axed in 1998 by Executive Producer Matthew Robinson, following a dip in ratings.[29]

Betty[edit]

Betty
EastEnders character
Portrayed by Vivienne Martin
Appears on 20 June 1996
Classification Former; guest

Betty, also known as Aunty Betty, is played by Vivienne Martin. Betty is Pauline Fowler's aunt. She arrived in 1996 for Arthur Fowler's funeral, with her boyfriend Gerard. Betty was greeted by Pauline and her son Mark Fowler, while Gerard made rude and insensitive remarks about Arthur despite never meeting him, which disturbed many of those present. Betty clashed with Nellie Ellis, continuing a long-standing feud dating back to the Second World War, when Betty had relationships with several men including Nellie's boyfriend at the time. Betty was previously mentioned in 1988, when Lou Beale visited her in Leigh on Sea. In 2004, Pauline names her dog after her.

Charlie Mason[edit]

Charlie Mason
EastEnders character
Portrayed by Campbell Morrison
Duration 1996, 1998–99
First appearance 8 October 1996
Last appearance 5 October 1999
Classification Former; recurring
Profile
Occupation Detective Chief Inspector

Detective Chief Inspector Charlie Mason, played by Campbell Morrison, is a detective who first appears when Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt) is shot by hitman John Valecue (Steve Weston), working for his wife, Cindy (Michelle Collins). He later appears when Tiffany Mitchell (Martine McCutcheon) falls down the stairs at The Queen Victoria public house, and arrests Grant Mitchell (Ross Kemp) for her attempted murder on Christmas Day 1998. He later appears at the inquest into Tiffany's death in January 1999. He also investigates Saskia Duncan (Deborah Sheridan-Taylor)'s disappearance in March 1999 and appears at Steve Owen (Martin Kemp) and Matthew Rose (Joe Absolom)'s trial for her murder in October 1999. This is his last appearance.

Terry Raymond[edit]

Main article: Terry Raymond

Terry Raymond, played by Gavin Richards, is initially introduced briefly in 1996 as the drunken father of Tiffany (Martine McCutcheon) and Simon Raymond (Andrew Lynford). He is reintroduced as a full-time character in 1997 and remains in the serial until 2002, when actor Gavin Richards decided to leave. It was announced that Gavin Richards quit the role in November 2001. He commented, "I had a wonderful time but feel I have to devote my energies to other projects."[30] A source reportedly told the press that Richards had been unhappy in the role since the exit of his on-screen wife Irene (Roberta Taylor), as he felt that he had "not been given enough juicy storylines." Terry was not killed off in the soap; he departed in 2002 in search of his estranged wife.[31] Tim Randall from the Daily Record suggested in 2001 that Terry and Irene's double-act was "EastEnders at its best", but that the relationship between Terry and Janine was "enough to turn your stomach".[32]


Others[edit]

Character Date(s) Actor Circumstances
Kevin 29–30 April Jamie Dispirito The young son of Suzy Branning who attends his aunt, April's wedding. He acts as the pageboy. He is then mentioned in December 2008 when Suzy tells her fiancé Phil Mitchell that she has a son and a daughter but never speaks to them.
Rebecca 29–30 April Alice Dawnay The teenage daughter of Suzy Branning who attends her aunt, April's wedding. She acts as a bridesmaid, and her cousin Robbie Jackson is attracted to her. She is then mentioned in December 2008 when Suzy tells her fiancee Phil Mitchell that she has a son and a daughter but never speaks to them.
Roddy 6 August Eddie Marsan
John Valecue 28 October 1996–
10 April 1998
(4 episodes)
Steve Weston A professional hitman, hired by Cindy Beale to kill her husband Ian. He shoots Ian on 7 October 1996, but fails to kill him, leaving him wounded in hospital. Ian fails to identify his assailant, but Valecue is later arrested for another failed shooting. Annie Palmer and Ros Thorne visit him in prison in 1998 when they are trying to help Ian get custody of his stepson Steven and son Peter. Annie threatens to use her contacts inside the prison to get at Valecue, unless he implicates Cindy in the attempted murder of Ian. He does so and Cindy is arrested and charged for attempted murder.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Bosom pals for 30 years". The Mirror. 16 March 2002. Retrieved 2 October 2008. 
  2. ^ "Me and My Trolley ...with Anna Karen". The People. 19 January 1997. Retrieved 2 October 2008. 
  3. ^ "Asthma Campaign - Actors and authors put weight behind the". The Independent. 31 March 2002. Retrieved 2 October 2008. [dead link]
  4. ^ "TAKE A BUTCHER'S AT BABS". The People. 3 February 1996. Retrieved 2 October 2008. 
  5. ^ Wilkes, Neil (19 January 2006). "Mitchell kids to return to Walford". Digital Spy. Digital Spy Ltd. Retrieved 21 July 2009. 
  6. ^ Atkinson, Rebecca (11 July 2006). "Big Brother's 'freak show' has produced the first warts-and-all disabled person on TV - when will the soaps follow?". The Guardian (London: Guardian News and Media). Retrieved 18 November 2011. 
  7. ^ a b "EastEnders TV Program covers Schizophrenia". schizophrenia.com. 10 May 1997. Retrieved 12 May 2009. 
  8. ^ Smith, Rupert (2005). EastEnders: 20 years in Albert Square. BBC books. ISBN 0-563-52165-1. 
  9. ^ a b c Lock, Kate (2000). EastEnders Who's Who. BBC Books. ISBN 0-563-55178-X. 
  10. ^ Millar, John (24 December 1996). "Lorraine's seasons cheatings; EastEnder Jacqueline Leonard tells all about her festive frolics". Daily Record. 
  11. ^ Nathan, Sara (10 March 2008). "Jim Branning back in Walford". The Sun (London). Retrieved 10 March 2008. 
  12. ^ Banks-Smith, Nancy (15 February 2002). "Cotton shocks". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2 August 2009. 
  13. ^ "Maggie wants her Mitchell". The Sun. 23 April 2008. Retrieved 23 April 2008. 
  14. ^ "'Shameless' actress joins 'EastEnders'", Digital Spy. URL last accessed 23 April 2008.
  15. ^ "Enders fiver for Jamie Foreman". The Sun. Retrieved 29 November 2011. 
  16. ^ "Max visits Tanya in prison", Digital Spy. URL last accessed 20 November 2008.
  17. ^ Written by Annie Wood. Series created by Julia Smith and Tony Holland. Directed by Jo Johnson. Executive producer: Diederick Santer. (2008-09-25). ""Tony loses his cool"". EastEnders. BBC One. http://www.bbc.co.uk/eastenders/episodes/past/episode20080925.shtml.
  18. ^ Written by Carey Andrews. Series created by Julia Smith and Tony Holland. Directed by Michael Owen Morris. Script editor: Peter Mattessi, executive producer: Diederick Santer. (2008-10-24). ""Max stops the move"". EastEnders. 10:32 minutes in. BBC One. http://www.bbc.co.uk/eastenders/episodes/past/episode20081024.shtml.
  19. ^ "EASTENDER HUW WEDS HIS PATIENT.". The People. 19 April 1999. Retrieved 1 July 2009. 
  20. ^ "Sixties icon joins EastEnders". BBC News. 3 April 2003. Retrieved 1 July 2009. 
  21. ^ a b "East End Welsh boy". Western Mail. 13 February 2010. Retrieved 1 July 2009. 
  22. ^ "Operation Deserted Square". The Mirror. 23 December 1998. Retrieved 1 July 2009. 
  23. ^ a b c "EastEnders Actor Responds to Gazette Article". Walford Gazette. Retrieved 1 July 2009. 
  24. ^ "Frankie Pierre". BBC. Retrieved 28 November 2007. 
  25. ^ "Frankie Pierre". BBC. Retrieved 28 November 2007. 
  26. ^ Alison Bowyer (8 June 1997). "EastEnder Carol's love life is more complicated than TV soap plot". Sunday Mirror. Retrieved 28 November 2007. 
  27. ^ "Once burnt, Syan's shy: Hunted by the media and confused fans". The Voice. 2 June 1997. 
  28. ^ "Soap bride and gloom". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 25 August 2009. 
  29. ^ "ALBERT SQUARE MASSACRE". Daily Record. Retrieved 25 August 2009. 
  30. ^ "EastEnders' Terry to quit soap". London: Daily Mail. 21 November 2001. Retrieved 9 February 2011. 
  31. ^ "ENDER THE LINE FOR TV TERRY; Soap star quits". London: Daily Record. 21 November 2001. Retrieved 9 February 2011. 
  32. ^ Oulton, Charles (1 December 2001). "Soap gossip". London: Daily Record. Retrieved 9 February 2011.