|Portrayed by||Lacey Turner|
|First appearance||1 November 2004|
|Created by||Tony Jordan|
|Introduced by||Louise Berridge (2004)
Dominic Treadwell-Collins (2014)
|EastEnders: Last Tango in Walford (2010)|
Stacey Branning (also Slater) is a fictional character from the BBC soap opera EastEnders, played by Lacey Turner. She made her first appearance on 1 November 2004. The character was introduced as a feisty and troublesome teenager, an extension of the already established Slater clan. She has featured in numerous high-profile storylines, including abortion, drug abuse, a troubled relationship with her mother Jean (Gillian Wright), mental illness, an affair with her father-in-law Max (Jake Wood) and the murder of Archie Mitchell (Larry Lamb). The love triangle between Stacey, Janine Butcher (Charlie Brooks) and Ryan Malloy (Neil McDermott), the father of her daughter Lily and the discovery that she murdered Archie and her being framed for attempted murder by Janine, forced her to flee the country on 25 December 2010. Stacey has proven popular with fans and critics, and Turner has won multiple awards for her portrayal.
Stacey returned for a short stint between 7 February and 25 March 2014 when she turned herself in to the police for Archie's murder. She later appealed, and returned permanently on 5 August.
Stacey, age 15, arrives in Walford in November 2004, to move in with her great-uncle Charlie (Derek Martin) after being thrown out by her mother Jean (Gillian Wright). She causes trouble through her promiscuous and immoral behaviour, and is sent back home to Jean. However, she then returns to the Slaters, eventually beginning to settle down when joined by her mother and older brother Sean (Robert Kazinsky). It is revealed that Stacey had a troubled childhood, due to Jean's bipolar disorder and the death of her father when she was 11, after which Sean abandoned the family and left Stacey as Jean's sole carer. In 2005, Stacey becomes heavily involved in the murder of Den Watts (Leslie Grantham) when she gives her cousin Zoe Slater (Michelle Ryan) a false alibi for his murder, landing an innocent Sam Mitchell (Kim Medcalf) in prison. Sam's family and Den's adopted daughter Sharon Watts (Letitia Dean) pressure her into telling the truth, and eventually Den's wife Chrissie Watts (Tracy-Ann Oberman) is arrested for the murder.
Despite being unimpressed by Walford newcomer Bradley Branning (Charlie Clements), the pair grow to love one another but the relationship deteriorates when Stacey discovers she has been impregnated by Bradley. When he uncovers the truth, Bradley constantly urges Stacey to have an abortion. After hours of pleading with Bradley, she finally gives up and after doing so, their romance sours. Bradley calls time on his relationship with Stacey when she embarrasses him at a work party. She confides in his father Max (Jake Wood) and they end up in bed. Subsequently, they begin an affair and Max agrees to divorce his wife, Tanya (Jo Joyner). However, he has this on a halt as he learns that Tanya is expecting their son. He leaves Stacey and she reunites with Bradley, later marrying. Max propositions Stacey after the wedding ceremony and their brief kiss is recorded on Max's daughter Lauren's (Madeline Duggan) hidden video camera. Lauren gives a DVD of the recording to Bradley as a Christmas present, revealing the fling as he plays it to the family. Devastated, Tanya slaps Stacey and Bradley ends their marriage again for six months. He eventually decides to give their marriage another chance, suggesting that they start a family. Stacey is uncertain and secretly continues having birth control pills. She seduces Callum Monks (Elliott Jordan). She immediately regrets cheating on Bradley. Although she attempts to reignite the spark in her marriage, Stacey divorces Bradley. She has a one-night stand with Callum, which leads to them dating. They split, however, over his harsh treatment of her mother.
Following the death of her best friend Danielle Jones (Lauren Crace), Stacey begins behaving erratically. She steals money from her family, sleeps with various men on the go and becomes a heavy drinker. She is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but is non-compliant with her medication and becomes paranoid, experiencing hallucinations. Stacey starts sleeping with Ryan Malloy (Neil McDermott) and is raped by Archie Mitchell (Larry Lamb). She believes that they are both planning to kill her. After attacking Archie with a broken glass and accusing her friends and family of planning to hurt her, Stacey is involuntarily committed to hospital, where she befriends Becca Swanson (Simone James).
Upon her release, Bradley confesses his feelings for Stacey and they reconcile. Then Stacey discovers she is 3 months pregnant, so Bradley could not be the father. She tells Bradley that Archie raped her and must be the father. Archie is murdered that night by an unknown assailant. Stacey and Bradley agree to pretend the baby is theirs, and remarry on 18 February 2010. A jealous Becca reveals the rape to Archie's daughter Ronnie Mitchell (Samantha Womack), who tells Stacey that Archie was infertile. Becca informs the police that Bradley had a motive to kill Archie. He and Stacey attempt to flee Walford, but Bradley is caught by the police and falls to his death while trying to escape. A distraught Stacey confesses to Max that she killed Archie while her world falls apart.
Stacey decides not to tell Ryan that he must be the father of her baby. He exhibits a romantic interest in her, which is later revealed to be part of a bet with his girlfriend Janine Butcher (Charlie Brooks). Upset by this revelation, Stacey's waters break. Ryan stays with her as she gives birth to a daughter, whom she names Lily. When Ryan later rescues them from a fire at The Queen Victoria pub, Stacey admits that he is Lily's father. Ryan initially refuses to act as a parent to her, but bonds with her when Stacey and a jealous Janine are arrested for fighting during a night out. Janine's jealousy escalates to kidnapping Lily, but Ryan convinces her to return her. Stacey and Ryan grow closer, spending time together, and they passionately kiss. During this time, Lauren (now Jacqueline Jossa) discovers Stacey's guilt in Archie's death and records a confession on her phone. Stacey attempts to flee to Palma, Majorca, but Ryan stops her, telling her he has feelings for her and wants to date her. They start an affair, but unbeknownst to them, Janine finds out, who poisons Ryan in revenge. Ryan is hospitalised and on his return, he convinces Janine he loves her but publicly declares his love for Stacey in The Queen Victoria. Janine walks in as they are in a passionate embrace. She concedes defeat until Lauren, who still believes Max is emotionally involved with Stacey, gives Janine the recorded confession. The next day, Janine attempts to play the recording in front of punters in The Queen Victoria, but it has been recorded over because Lauren warned Max. Janine says that Stacey killed Archie but no one believes her. Stacey leaves the pub in tears, followed by Ryan. She then breaks down and tells Ryan that Janine said the truth.
The next day, Christmas Day, Stacey tells Jean she killed Archie, so Jean takes Lily away from her. Ryan convinces Stacey to leave with him as Janine will call the police. Stacey lets Janine in and she attempts to set Stacey up by grabbing a knife, placing it into Stacey's hand and stabbing herself. Stacey runs out of the house and Janine convinces Jean to call the police. Stacey contemplates suicide but Max stops her and says he will help her to escape. Stacey convinces Jean that Janine has framed her. Ryan plans to run away with Stacey, but Stacey states that events have happened rapidly, and she is not sure whether she loves him. Stacey ends their romance. Ronnie and Roxy confront her, and Stacey confesses that she did kill Archie. Ronnie tells her to go, and Max drives her to the airport as the police arrive on the Square. At the airport, Max says he loves her and offers to leave with her, but she tells him she only ever loved Bradley. She and Lily then board a flight and leave the country. The next day, Kat Moon (Jessie Wallace) receives a phone call from Stacey, saying that her and Lily are safe and well in Mexico.
In February 2014, Kat notices Stacey walking into a salon, from the top deck of a bus. Kat finds out where she lives and visits her address, where she is greeted by Lily and Stacey's boyfriend, Luke Riley (Matt Willis). Luke believes that Stacey is called "Jenny Smith" and knows nothing about her criminal history. Stacey sees Kat hurrying away from her apartment, so arrives at her house in Albert Square to confront her. Later, Kat tells Luke that she is called Stacey Slater, so he decides to end their relationship. Stacey and Lily spend the night at Kat and Alfie's house and the following day, Kat visits Janine in prison, where she is awaiting trial for the murder of her ex-husband, Michael Moon (Steve John Shepherd), to ask her to drop the false charges against Stacey. Janine drops the charges, so Stacey, with no reason to hide, returns to Albert Square. Luke later arrives to talk to Stacey, but leaves, after discovering that she killed Archie. After listening to what Luke said, Stacey decides to clear Bradley's name, so calls the police, to tell them that she killed Archie. She is arrested and later sentenced to five years in prison. Several months later, Stacey decides to appeal her prison sentence, after realizing how much that Lily is missing her. The appeal is successful and Stacey returns to Walford, moving in with Kat and Alfie. Just as Stacey is settling back into her old life, Alfie commits arson and destroys their family home. She loses everything that was Bradley's. Stacey joins Dean Wicks (Matt Di Angelo) at his salon Blades. The two start a relationship. Stacey is unaware that Dean had raped Linda Carter (Kellie Bright). After the fire Stacey and Lily move into Dean's flat. Stacey discovers that Alfie caused the fire. When Kat discovers Alfie caused the fire after finding the photo of Nana Moon (Hilda Braid) he had saved from the house, Stacey invites Kat and the children to move in with her and Dean. Stacey bumps into Linda who asks her about her relationship with Dean, Linda nearly admits that Dean raped her however she is stopped from doing so when they are interrupted by Dean. However, Stacey grows suspicious, and when Linda unexpectedly gets scared when Dean is around, Stacey guesses that Dean raped her and confronts Linda. When Stacey describes how she felt after her rape, Linda admits that he did. Stacey then ends her relationship with Dean and forces him to move out, and helps Linda find the courage to tell her partner, Mick (Danny Dyer) about the rape. Stacey discovers that property developers are refurbishing the flats on George Street, where she is living and move in with Charlie, for a few weeks, before returning to her flat.
In September 2004, an official BBC press release announced an addition to the popular Slater family; the new "feisty female" named Stacey Slater, Charlie Slater's great-niece and cousin to Kat, Lynne, Belinda, Little Mo and Zoe. According to the report, Stacey "looks like a Slater and shares the same family attitude but with one difference—Stacey is one hell of a bitch! […] She is going to be trouble!"
The 16 year–old actress Lacey Turner was cast in the role. Turner had originally gone to audition for a part in the Miller family, but was given the part of Stacey instead. Commenting on her role, Turner said "I was speechless when I found out that I had been cast as Stacey Slater especially as I knew I would be working with Jessie Wallace who is my favourite actress. I've watched the show since I was about four years old, and I used to live in a house that backed onto the EastEnders set so I used to watch them filming all the time. I always dreamt of being on the show and so I can't believe that I've fulfilled my greatest ambition!" She added, "I'm not like Stacey at all although I love playing her! She's a real challenge […] I think people are going to love to hate her like they did with [the character] Janine Butcher."
EastEnders' scriptwriter Tony Jordan revealed that he created the character with Turner in mind: "I first met Lacey when she came to a casting workshop for the Miller family […] She was leaning against a wall and looked just like Kat Slater, played by Wallace. I thought she would be perfect for the Slater family so I wrote in Stacey’s character especially for Lacey."
Personality and lineage
The character appears to be tough, stubborn, fiery and very bitchy, however, as Turner explains, this is just a front and "underneath she's very vulnerable". Stacey has been described as "sarky, sassy and...realistically streetwise." Turner has described her character as a cross between two other EastEnders characters, Janine Evans and Kat Slater. Indeed, her "malicious tongue and wicked ways" led to her being heralded as "a junior Janine" in 2004, by Tony Stewart of the Daily Mirror. Turner commented, "She's very naughty, but she has her reasons for her nastiness."
Over the course of the character's narrative, it was revealed that one of the reasons for Stacey's tough and malicious exterior was her troubled family life — specifically the death of her father, disappearance of her brother, and her mother's bipolar disorder. Addressed in a storyline that aired in December 2005, Stacey returned to live with her "disturbed" mother Jean, played by Gillian Wright, during one of her breakdowns. Jean, who had "sank into the dark despair of her illness", was living in squalor, off her medication, starved, suicidal, and being abused and ridiculed by her neighbours. Stacey was forced to admit her to a mental institution for her own safety. The episodes, described as "harrowing and bleak", were praised by critics in the media. Turner and Wright were complimented for giving "graphically powerful performances", and the storyline won a Mental Health Media Award in September 2006. Prior to the airing of this storyline, Stacey was portrayed as a "hateful tearaway", but it has been commented that the episodes allowed the audience to see a softer side to the character.
Romance with Bradley Branning and affair with Max Branning
In 2006, scriptwriters decided to pair Stacey with a new character, Bradley Branning, played by Charlie Clements. Mismatched, one reporter commented, "geeky...goody-twoshoes Bradley doesn't seem like the type of lad she would normally go for", however they added that the couple "may be chalk and cheese, but with [Stacey's] history of emotional turmoil, [Bradley] is probably just the stabilising influence she needs." The couple were hailed as the nearest thing Walford had to Romeo and Juliet. Explaining the characters' attraction, scriptwriter Sarah Phelps has said, "Bradley's gentleness makes Stacey a little bit gentler, and Stacey's toughness makes Bradley a little bit tougher." Discussing the union between her character and Bradley, Turner has said, "I love working with Charlie — he's such a laugh. They're such different characters. It's nice, because it's not what anyone expected for her. Stacey doesn't want to rush it because he's the first person she's ever really cared about. If she's had boyfriends before, it's been all over after a week."
The couple were shown to face problems in August 2006, when Stacey declared she was pregnant with Bradley's child, and on the advice of his father, Max (Jake Wood), Bradley convinced Stacey to have an abortion; an episode that Jane Simon of The Mirror has described as "incredibly powerful" and "brilliantly played by Lacey Turner every horrible step of the way". Scriptwriter Sarah Phelps has described Stacey's abortion as "a dagger in [her] heart [...] Stacey thought that if this is what [Bradley] really wants [...] 'OK I'll go through with it', but she really didn't want to. He broke her heart." Bradley and Stacey were shown to grow steadily apart after this, as Bradley invested time in a new job he acquired in city bank, neglecting Stacey's needs and ignoring her depression over her lost baby. When Bradley purposefully excluded Stacey from a work function, she showed up anyway and humiliated him in front of his colleagues. In scenes shown directly after, Bradley dumped Stacey, declaring that the reason that he wanted to abort their baby was because he could not bear the idea of bringing up a child with Stacey. The end of Stacey and Bradley's relationship facilitated a plot twist that saw Stacey seducing Bradley's father Max. In episodes that aired on Christmas Day 2006, Stacey slept with Max as payback for Bradley's mistreatment. A BBC insider commented, "Stacey likes the idea that even if Bradley doesn't want her, his dad does."
Although Stacey and Bradley split up at Christmas 2007 when her affair with Max is revealed, they get back together in December 2009 following Stacey's diagnosis with bipolar disorder (see below). Executive producer Diederick Santer commented on the storyline, saying "Bradley and Stacey are together – that's what I want, that's what the audience wants and that's what the characters want. Together, they're very strong and they can take on the world. She's good with him, she takes her medication and on the face of it, she's the Stacey Slater we've always known. As ever with Stacey, though, there's a lot hidden. There are a lot of vulnerabilities there but she and Bradley want to make a go of things."
After losing her friend Danielle Jones, Stacey began acting strangely in May 2009, and the character has to come to terms with the prospect that, like her mother, she also suffers from bipolar disorder. The storyline was developed as of the BBC's Headroom campaign, which aims to encourage people to look after their mental wellbeing. Series Consultant Simon Ashdown had been developing the storyline for about a year. To accurately reflect the issue, EastEnders worked closely with various charities such as Mind and MDF The BiPolar Organisation, medical practitioners and bipolar sufferers when researching the storyline. The story was moulded around what Stacey would do in that situation and what the research led the team to believe was the most truthful way events would develop. Executive producer Diederick Santer said that the initial buildup of the storyline was an extension of how the character has always been, "a character of highs and lows, of great passions and dark moods," but these highs and lows would become more contrasted, and viewers would realise that Stacey's mood is more complex than just being upset over her losses, adding, "It's the beginning of us getting to really know and understand who Stacey is and what makes her behave the way she does." Turner hoped that she could do the storyline justice, saying that she believed it was great that EastEnders continued to raise awareness of the issue.
The first signs of Stacey's odd behavior were subtle, eventually building up into more extreme acts. One of the earliest indicators was her paranoia over a poster for a fictitious video game, Deprivation, featuring two large eyes on a black background. Ashdown got the idea for this from his research notes, saying, "There were similar sorts of images described by bipolar sufferers when they were experiencing extreme paranoia." In the episode broadcast on Friday 15 May 2009, every shot was either of Stacey or from her point of view, allowing viewers to see the world through her eyes.
Mind's Chief Executive, Paul Farmer, commented on the storyline, "It's fantastic that a high-profile soap like EastEnders has been prepared to tackle the challenge of exploring a mental health issue through the experience of Stacey — who is such a well-loved and popular character. The degree of research and consultancy they have undertaken to ensure an accurate and honest portrayal of how mental distress affects not only the individual but also family and friends is to be commended. [...] We hope [...] to dispel the myths about mental health problems and help the public to be more informed about this issue."
Pregnancy, Archie's murder and Bradley's death
On 25 December 2009, storylines showed the character of Archie Mitchell (Larry Lamb) murdered by an unseen person when the bronze bust of Queen Victoria was pushed from the bar of The Queen Victoria public house onto his head. Prior to this, Stacey had told Bradley that Archie raped her when she was suffering from bipolar disorder and she was pregnant with his child. A live episode broadcast on 19 February 2010 revealed Stacey as the killer, moments after Bradley fell to his death after becoming the prime suspect. Following this, a two-hander episode was announced for Stacey and Max, who became the only person to know Stacey was the killer. Santer promised "fascinating" stories for Stacey and Max, saying that the two-hander will explore Stacey's motives for killing Archie, and will be a test for Max as the murder lead to his son's death. Santer explained that the murder was not a function of Stacey's bipolar disorder as she was lucid at the time, and she had several sound reasons to be angry with him – he took advantage of her, ruined her second chance with Bradley, caused a chain of events leading to the death of Stacey's best friend Danielle and drove her brother Sean out of Walford. The two-hander also explored the question of whether Stacey really meant to kill Archie. In an interview with magazine Soaplife, Turner said that the baby gives Stacey a reason to live following Bradley's death. However, she predicted in an interview on the official EastEnders website that Bradley's death would lead to a permanent change in Stacey's character, saying that Stacey would struggle with motherhood.
On 29 April 2010, Turner's decision to leave the show was announced after she expressed a desire to pursue other roles. She said of her departure: "I've had the most fantastic time at EastEnders. Stacey has been such a brilliant role for me to play, as has being part of the feisty Slater family. I'm so lucky to have had such challenging storylines, from the affair with Max and being diagnosed with bipolar to the complete shock of being revealed as Archie's killer during the live 25th Anniversary episode. I'll miss Stacey and everyone in Albert Square very much but the time has come to try something different." Executive producer Bryan Kirkwood added: "We'll be very sad to see Lacey Turner leave the show. Lacey is one of the best young actresses on TV at the moment and the fact that she's won 28 awards in the last five years is testament to this. It's only right that someone as talented and versatile as Lacey should pursue new challenges and we wish her the very best of luck. In the meantime, viewers can look forward to a typically dramatic Slater family exit when she leaves and the door will be left open for Stacey Branning to return to Albert Square in the future." During an interview on This Morning, Kirkwood revealed that Stacey will take centre stage at Christmas and will depart in a "dramatic plotline" and said "Christmas will be all about [Stacey]" and explained the storyline would be "a suitably dramatic and fitting departure for one of the all-time greats". Stacey departed on Christmas Day 2010.
On 6 December 2013, it was announced that Turner would return to the soap to reprise her role as Stacey, and would begin filming in January 2014. Turner was quoted as saying: "I may have left EastEnders over three years ago but the show has always been in my heart, as has Stacey, and she has never really left my side. I am so excited about returning and seeing what the future holds for her. It's been a while since I set foot in Albert Square and I am looking forward to coming home." Executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins added: "Stacey is one of EastEnders best-loved characters, played by one of television's finest actors, and I am tremendously excited that Lacey has decided to return home to Walford. Stacey's last time on the Square was iconic. But that was just the first act. There is so much more to come for Stacey—and her return will send ripples of drama through the Square." Stacey confesses to the murder of Archie Mitchell. Lacey Turner took a break to film the new series of Our Girl. It was confirmed that Stacey will return to EastEnders once filming has finished.
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Stacey has been proven very popular with fans and has been well received by critics. In 2007, Jim Shelley, television critic for the Daily Mirror, commented that Stacey "has been EastEnders' best character since she arrived...". In 2009, Shelley criticised the writers for her bi-polar storyline, as he said it "reduces her to an Issue", saying, "Making Stacey bi-polar does Turner a terrible disservice. Until now, she had made Stacey the only character in the series who was multi-dimensional." Kris Green from entertainment website Digital Spy responded to Shelley's 2009 article by saying "With hereditary connections and strong environmental conditions linked to the advancement of bipolar disorder, it's not surprising that Stacey, the daughter of Jean Slater (Gillian Wright) — a long-suffering manic depressive — has developed the same disorder. [...] Granted, the 21-year-old shoulders a fair whack of the programme, but this material is pushing her acting abilities to unseen levels. Lacey's one of the BBC soap's finest actresses and to be handed a story with scenes as powerful as those in last Tuesday's episode must be nothing short of a privilege. The subject matter, however, may be difficult and the portrayal of the condition quite probably more so. It's a given that Stacey's a superb specimen and one of the best female characters in soapland, but quite how the plot is doing the actress a disservice, I'll never know." According to MDF The BiPolar Organisation, calls made by young people to their helplines doubled in six months since the on-screen onset of Stacey's illness. The Bipolar Disorder Research Network also announced an increase in visitors to its website.
Between her introduction to the series in 2004 and the announcement of her departure on 29 April 2010, Turner won a total of 28 awards for her portrayal of Stacey. In 2005, she won best newcomer at the TV Quick Awards, and in 2006 she was awarded best actress at the British Soap Awards. Virgin Media named Stacey and Bradley as one of "Soaps' sexiest couples". In February 2011, the love triangle storyline between Stacey, Ryan and Janine was nominated in the "Best Love Triangle" category at the All About Soap Bubble Awards. Stacey's departure was nominated for 'Best Exit' at the 2011 British Soap Awards.
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