Andy Hunter (EastEnders)
|Portrayed by||Michael Higgs|
|First appearance||3 July 2003|
|Last appearance||18 February 2005|
|Created by||Louise Berridge|
Andy is an employee of 'The Firm', of which he takes control after the murder of Jack Dalton (Hywel Bennett) by Dennis Rickman (Nigel Harman). He had previously been married and divorced to a woman named Bev. He is attracted to Kat Slater (Jessie Wallace), and asks her out on a date in The Queen Victoria pub, but she harshly turns him down. However he keeps trying and she eventually accepts his advances; and after some weeks he falls in love with Kat. He proposes to her while they were in New York and she accepts. On their wedding day, Alfie Moon (Shane Richie) runs in to the church and says he loves her and Kat leaves Andy for Alfie thus making Andy and Alfie enemies. However Andy gets his revenge as Alfie owes him a large amount of money. Andy blackmails Kat to have sex with him behind Alfie's back, in order to pay off the money and if she refuses, he says he will have Alfie killed. Alfie manages to provide the money, but only after Kat has already slept with Andy. When they are in bed together, Andy secretly films everything with a hidden video camera he sets up, and gives the tape to Alfie.
Alfie later watches the tape out of curiosity and is heartbroken at what he sees, and confronts Kat about it, nearly ending their relationship. Andy hopes for them to split but he doesn't succeed as Alfie and Kat are still going strong, and Alfie also gets his revenge by giving Andy a tape thinking that it is the same tape that Andy sent him. However, as Andy starts to watch it, he is taken aback as he discovers it is a different tape of Alfie and Kat's wedding. After that, Andy leaves them to their relationship but still bullies Alfie. Andy starts having a relationship with Sam Mitchell (Kim Medcalf), and he later marries her. However, when Den Watts (Leslie Grantham) and Marcus Christie (Stephen Churchett) trick Sam into selling the pub to Den, and signing her house over to Andy, Andy leaves her, taking Sam for every penny she has and leaving her homeless.
In 2004, Paul Trueman (Gary Beadle) reports Andy to the police for his criminal activities. Andy takes his revenge on Paul by hiring a hitman from The Firm to kill him. Paul is killed in December 2004. Paul's father, Patrick Trueman (Rudolph Walker) begins searching for him and identifies his body when it is recovered. Patrick soon discovers that Andy is involved with Paul's death. Andy tells his employee Pat Evans (Pam St. Clement) that he had hired a hitman to kill Paul and threatens to kill her if she says anything. Patrick tells the police that Andy is involved but there is no evidence against him. Patrick later swears revenge against him.
Andy's luck finally runs out when he tries to con Johnny Allen (Billy Murray) out of £750,000. Johnny pushes him off a motorway footbridge, killing him instantly. The police are informed of Andy's death but decide that it was a suicide. He dies on the same night that Den is bludgeoned to death by his wife Chrissie (Tracy-Ann Oberman). Sam is asked to attend Andy's will reading, expecting to get all of his money and assets. However, Andy leaves the house to Pat Evans and the bookmakers to Dennis, leaving Sam with just his wedding ring, "so she can sell it, get her roots done and still be the dumbest blonde I ever knew." Johnny confesses to Andy's murder to the police in March 2006, along with ordering the murder of Dennis.
Creation and development
Casting and characterisation
Higgs auditioned for the role in April 2003 and won the part of EastEnders' new "bad guy", who made his first appearance in July that year as a member of the gangster organisation known as The Firm. Higgs stated that he was happy to play a villain: "They say that the devil has the best tunes, but the main thing is that the character's fully-rounded. With the so-called good guys and bad guys, they're not just good or just bad. There's a dynamic, and that's always the interesting thing to find - where's the weakness? You flesh it out and make them an interesting person."
In the hierarchy of the Firm, Andy's character was a subordinate to Jack Dalton (Hywel Bennett), but was appointed leader of the organisation for a brief time following Dalton's murder. Higgs described the differences between Andy and Dalton's leadership styles: "He's new blood, but he has a completely different sensibility about how the gang operates. Jack Dalton was quite old school. If you upset him you'd get your knee-caps broken or get killed. I think Andy plays more of a psychological game - information is power for him."
Discussing Andy's relationship with Kat Slater (Jessie Wallace), Higgs said, "I think you do see a soft side of him with Kat. He's totally in love with her, which makes him very vulnerable. He's been married before, but the marriage didn't work out. You get the sense that there's some hurt there, some pain that's stopped him becoming involved with other women [...] he likes the spirit of her. She's no-nonsense, in-your-face and slightly larger than life. Andy likes that scared of no one approach. Kat reminds Andy of his mum, with her dark hair and feistiness. He likes the fact that she's a family girl - that's what he wants."
On 18 November 2004 it was announced that actor Michael Higgs had been axed from his role as Andy Hunter and that his last scenes would be screened in Easter 2005. Higgs' axing from the role came following the decisions to axe fellow cast members Jill Halfpenny and Leslie Grantham. A BBC spokesperson stated "We thank Michael for all his hard work." It was speculated that the decision to have Higgs written out of the show was to make way for the introduction of Billy Murray as Johnny Allen, whom critics stated made Andy "look like small fry". In an interview on Today with Des and Mel in February 2005 Higgs hinted that his character would be killed off. He made his final appearance as Andy Hunter on 18 February 2005, when his character was murdered by Johnny. Leslie Grantham's final scenes as Den Watts were screened the same night as Andy's departure.