|Portrayed by||Jack Ryder|
|First appearance||Episode 1692|
9 November 1998
|Last appearance||Episode 2436|
25 December 2002
|Introduced by||Matthew Robinson|
Jamie Mitchell is a fictional character from the BBC soap opera EastEnders, played by Jack Ryder, who makes his first appearance on 9 November 1998. Ryder decided to leave in 2002, and his final episode aired Christmas Day 2002, when Jamie is killed off.
Jamie's main storylines involve his on-and-off relationship with Sonia Jackson (Natalie Cassidy). Their relationship faces many struggles after Sonia gives birth to Chloe (Jade Sharif) at the age of 15, who is fathered by Martin Fowler (James Alexandrou), whom she was with before she met Jamie, and is put to the test again when Jamie has sex with Zoe Slater (Michelle Ryan), along with many other problems. Another storyline that Jamie is involved in is his relationship with uncle Billy (Perry Fenwick), who used to beat him on a regular basis, though later forgives him.
One other major storyline is after his second cousin once removed and godfather, Phil (Steve McFadden), takes him in after finding out what Billy does to him. Phil then beats him sometime later which prompted thirty-one complaints to the Broadcasting Standards Commission. Towards the end of his time on EastEnders he gets engaged to Sonia, but gets run over by Martin and dies in hospital on Christmas Day of spleen damage.
When Ryder decided to quit his role, executive producer John Yorke said that the 'door would be left open' for Jamie to return, though when Yorke was succeeded by Louise Berridge, the decision was made to kill Jamie off. The decision was highly criticised, and Ryder said it was a shock for him, but said that if he had not been killed off, he would not have returned anyway. In 1999 he was nominated three times for 'Best Newcomer' and for his exit storyline he was nominated for 'Best Exit', in 2003, at The British Soap Awards.
Jamie arrives in Walford after the death of his father, Charlie. His second cousin once removed/godfather, Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden), takes him in after realising Jamie's uncle and guardian, Billy Mitchell (Perry Fenwick), was beating him on a regular basis. Jamie becomes Phil's surrogate son, replacing Ben Mitchell (Morgan Whittle), and he stands up to Billy, at one point battering him when Billy attacks him again. Billy softens and changes his whole character, and Jamie learns to forgive him.
Jamie starts a relationship with Sonia Jackson (Natalie Cassidy), his first true love, after losing his virginity to Janine Butcher (Charlie Brooks), who humiliates him by spreading rumours about his inadequate prowess in bed. A few months into the relationship, Sonia gives birth to Chloe at just 15 years of age. The baby's father is Martin Fowler's (James Alexandrou), with whom she had sex before she started dating Jamie but didn't know that she was pregnant. Chloe is put up for adoption and it is a blow to Jamie and Sonia's relationship. The relationship survives Sonia's obsession with Chloe (now renamed Rebecca), and after she kidnaps her, Jamie proposes and she accepts, but he sleeps with Zoe Slater (Michelle Ryan), who has been pursuing him for a while. He and Sonia consequently split up but he defends Sonia against Phil, who disowns him and beats him for letting Lisa Shaw (Lucy Benjamin) escape to Portugal with his daughter, Louise. Sonia nurses him back to health and they get engaged again, leaving her boyfriend, Gus Smith(Mohammed George), heart-broken, as he had also planned to propose. Earlier that year, Jamie turns to Steve Owen (Martin Kemp) who pays Jamie to smash the windows of the Queen Victoria Pub to get revenge on Phil. However, Martin accidentally runs over Jamie outside the tube station; Jamie is rushed to hospital, where it's confirmed that he will inevitably die of spleen damage. After receiving visits from Phil and Billy, who both make peace with Jamie after they each apologize for the abuse their inflicted onto him, he dies with Sonia by his side.
Jamie's death is mentioned 15 years later when Martin (now played by James Bye) reminds a 16 year old Bex (Jasmine Armfield) that killing Jamie was the biggest mistake of his life because of all of the negative gossip he endured during his adolescence. Martin empathises his experience with Bex when she is bullied at school, saying that she shouldn't let others talk negatively about her and that life moves on eventually.
The EastEnders website describes Jamie as vulnerable, gorgeous, beautiful, a stud, and "the Square's ultimate bit of cockney totty in the late nineties", with "floppy, David Beckham styled locks". Perry Fenwick, who plays Billy, said that they used to call Ryder a "mini David Beckham". In 2003, after Jamie's death, it was reported that a whodunit-style storyline would take place, involving a female character getting pregnant. The possibilities were Sonia carrying Jamie's baby, Kat Moon (Jessie Wallace) being pregnant by Anthony Trueman (Nicholas Bailey) or Sam Mitchell (Danniella Westbrook), having Trevor Morgan's (Alex Ferns) child. It was later revealed that Kat was pregnant.
Departure and death
Ryder's decision to quit was announced in March 2002, on which he stated, "I have decided to leave EastEnders after four fantastic years to pursue other projects. It has not been an easy decision but I felt it was time for me to build on the experience the show has given me and play other parts. EastEnders gave me the best opportunity a young actor could have dreamed of and I will always be grateful to them for that." EastEnders's executive producer John Yorke commented, "Jack has made a big contribution to EastEnders playing the much loved Jamie Mitchell. "We will be very sad to see him go but we wish him all the best for his future." It was said that Ryder would leave in November 2002 at the end of his contract, and Yorke said he would appear in episodes until February 2003. The News of the World then reported that Jamie would be killed off in a car accident at Christmas. Yorke wanted Ryder to be able to return, but when he was succeeded by Louise Berridge, the decision was made to kill Jamie off and that a Christmas death would be "gripping". An EastEnders crew member told the newspaper that other members of the cast were shocked that Jamie would be killed as Ryder was popular. They went on to say that "[Ryder] thought it was all amicable but he's bewildered by the whole affair. It's complete madness because he's the one all the girls love and attracts a huge young following. Who's left who's sexy?" Speaking of his departure he told the Daily Mirror, "I was a bit shocked by their decision. When I said he was going to leave, they said they would keep the door open. Then Louise took over as producer and they said they wanted a good exit. It didn't really matter either way to me. I wasn't planning on coming back. At the end of the day, it's their choice. They hired me. Jamie was always having an affair or another fight with Phil and I didn't want to be in a soap for the rest of my life."
The October 2002 episode that showed Jamie badly beaten by Phil prompted thirty-one complaints to the Broadcasting Standards Commission, who felt that although the scene was short, it was too violent for the time of broadcast. The episode that saw Jamie get run over was watched by 12 million people, while the hour-long episode in which he dies attracted 16 million viewers and was named by the Metro as one of the top five EastEnders exits in June 2010.
In July 2011, BBC aired an EastEnders special called EastEnders Greatest Exits. It showed the best departures in the shows history, with Jamie's death being one of them. Jamie's death was called "tragic", and McFadden said, "to see a young man losing his life was one of those tragic moments that this show pulls off really well." Charlie Brooks said, "it was heartbreaking for the nation" and Fenwick described Jamie's last episode as "very sad". Finally, Joe Swash said, "EastEnders is really good at bringing you back down to earth with bump. You celebrate one thing and mourn poor old Jamie's death. Not only that but there was probably about 25 million girls out there, breaking their hearts because they all loved Jack Ryder".
In 1999 at The British Soap Awards Ryder was nominated for 'Best Newcomer' though lost out to fellow EastEnders star Tamzin Outhwaite (Melanie Healy) The same year he was nominated for Most Popular Newcomer at the National Television Awards, but again did not win, as well as 'Best Newcomer' again at the TVChoice Awards, awarded by TV Choice magazine, this time winning. In 2003, he was nominated for 'Best Exit' at The British Soap Awards, but did not win.
- "Jamie Mitchell (deceased) played by Jack Ryder". EastEnders. BBC Online. Retrieved 9 March 2011.
- "EastEnders Greatest Exits". EastEnders. London. 7 July 2011. 1:14:26 minutes in. BBC. BBC One.
- Wilkes, Neil (16 January 2003). "'EastEnders' plans 'Who's pregnant?' storyline". Digital Spy. London: Hachette Filipacchi UK. Retrieved 9 March 2011.
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