Charlie Brooks as Janine Butcher (2013)
|Portrayed by||Rebecca Michael (1989–93)
Alexia Demetriou (1993–96)
Charlie Brooks (1999–2014)
|Duration||1989–96, 1999–2004, 2008–14|
|First appearance||Episode 458
22 June 1989
|Last appearance||Episode 4823
20 March 2014
|Introduced by||Mike Gibbon (1989)
Matthew Robinson (1999)
Diederick Santer (2008)
|EastEnders: Last Tango in Walford (2010)|
|Other names||Janine Evans
Judith Bernstein (pseudonym)
Alexia Demetriou as Janine Butcher (1996)
Rebecca Michael originally portrayed the character from 1989 until 1993, when Alexia Demetriou, who stayed for three years, took over. Brooks took on the role in 1999, remaining as a permanent character until 2004. After a three episode guest stint on 2 April 2008 which saw the character reappear for her father Frank's (Mike Reid) funeral, Brooks agreed to reprise her role full-time, returning permanently in December 2008. Janine's storylines typically involve her in an antagonistic role; the character has been described as a "super-bitch" and a "classic villainess". In February 2012, Brooks announced that she would take a six-month break from the show later in the year, and departed on 14 September 2012. Brooks returned to filming on 21 February 2013 and returned on screen on 18 April 2013.
Janine's storylines included prostitution, drug addiction, financial worries, becoming an agoraphobe and being falsely charged with the murder of Laura Beale (Hannah Waterman). The character is the widow of Barry Evans (Shaun Williamson), David (Harry Towb) and Michael Moon (Steve John Shepherd) and is divorced from Ryan Malloy (Neil McDermott). During June 2012 Janine prematurely gave birth to a daughter, Scarlett, on the day of her wedding to Michael. The pair later separate and become embroiled in a custody battle over Scarlett, which leads to Janine murdering Michael in October 2013, facilitating her third departure from the show.
On 28 October 2013, it was announced that Brooks had decided to leave the show for a third time but to allow for Brooks to return again, the character would not be killed-off. Following Janine's arrest on Christmas Day, she returned to screens on 24 February 2014 when Kat Moon (Jessie Wallace) and Stacey Branning (Lacey Turner) visited her in prison. On 20 March 2014, she was cleared of the charge of murder. Altogether Brooks has portrayed Janine for 11 years.
Janine's mother, June, died of cancer when Janine was three and she moved in with her sister Clare (Lucy Foxell; Caroline O'Neill). Her father Frank (Mike Reid) moved to Walford with her older siblings Ricky (Sid Owen) and Diane (Sophie Lawrence) and married Pat Wicks (Pam St. Clement). Clare moved to Manchester in 1989, leaving Janine with Pat and Frank.
A troublesome child, Janine throws tantrums, runs away, is a bed-wetter, a sleepwalker, a thief, a compulsive liar and self-harmer and hates Pat. Unable to discipline her, Pat forces Frank to take Janine to family therapy, which helps somewhat. When Frank has a breakdown and disappears in 1994, Janine stays with Pat but finds her father's absence upsetting. She is overjoyed when Frank returns and they move to Manchester in 1996. However, Frank returns to Walford in 1998, leaving Janine with Clare.
Janine returns in 1999 to live with Frank and his new wife, Peggy (Barbara Windsor). She sets about coming between them, constantly trying to antagonise Frank with rebellious behaviour. She sleeps with Jamie Mitchell (Jack Ryder) to infuriate her father then humiliates Jamie by spreading rumours about his inadequate prowess in bed. Frank abandons Janine in 2000 after the breakdown of his marriage to Peggy. Homeless, Janine is taken in by Terry Raymond (Gavin Richards); they start a business together as estate agents. Terry sees Janine as a surrogate daughter but her constant manipulation tests his patience. Janine uses him for money, deliberately dresses like his late daughter Tiffany Mitchell (Martine McCutcheon), ruins his relationships with women and tries to seduce him. Janine also has a relationship with Billy Mitchell (Perry Fenwick) until he runs out of money. This behaviour infuriates Terry but Janine starts using cocaine, pestering Terry for money to feed her habit. When he refuses, she resorts to sex with her drug dealer, Lee Vickers (Dermot Keaney), in exchange for cocaine; Vickers beats Terry when he tries to warn him off. When he sees Janine's lack of remorse, Terry throws her out and leaves Walford, ignoring her pleas for him to stay. Owing Vickers money for drugs, Janine turns to prostitution under the pseudonym "Blonde Bombshell". One of her clients, Matt Lindsay (Matthew Steer), falls in love with her and proposes but attempts suicide when he learns she is still a prostitute. Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt) begins using her services but she blackmails him, threatening to tell his wife Laura (Hannah Waterman) unless he pays her. Depressed, Janine begins drinking heavily and nearly dies of alcohol poisoning. She gives up prostitution, but when Laura discovers that she has been having sex with Ian, she throws a pan of boiling milk in Janine's face. Janine becomes agoraphobic as a result — she eats dog food because she is too afraid to go out and buy groceries. She eventually gets over this with Billy's help. Janine hopes to rekindle their relationship but is devastated when he tells her that he is in love with Little Mo Slater (Kacey Ainsworth). Her attempts to ruin their blossoming romance fail.
Janine gets a job working at Barry Evans's (Shaun Williamson) car lot when she becomes friendly with Barry, after his father Roy Evans (Tony Caunter) dies from a heart attack. She and Paul Trueman (Gary Beadle) concoct a plan to fleece Barry of his money. She seduces Barry and moves in with him but continues to sleep with Paul too. Barry eventually proposes to Janine and she accepts, thinking that Barry has a life-threatening heart murmur. They marry on New Year's Eve 2003 in Scotland, but Janine is furious to discover that Barry's illness is a false alarm. Barry forces Janine to take a stroll around the hills and cliffs, but Janine cracks and admits everything. Barry refuses to believe that she does not love him and tries to embrace her. Repulsed, Janine pushes him away and he falls down a hill, fatally hitting his head on a rock; Janine watches him die.
Janine inherits Barry's estate and has Barry cremated in Scotland, denying his friends and family a chance to pay their respects, making Barry's ex-wife, Natalie (Lucy Speed), suspicious. Natalie becomes close to Paul Trueman, who feels guilty about his role in Barry's death. Spurred on by Natalie, Paul eventually makes a statement to the police, implicating Janine in Barry's death. She is arrested but released without charge, due to lack of evidence, and spitefully tells Natalie that she has got away with murder but telling Pat is her downfall. Pat is also good friends with Laura, who has a feud with Janine. Janine further angers the locals by reporting Laura for benefit fraud and announces it in The Vic. Janine and Laura are seen fighting just before Laura accidentally dies after falling down the stairs. It is noted in the post mortem that Laura had recently been in a fight, due to bruising and Janine's skin is found under her nails. Although Janine was with Pat when Laura died, Pat avenges Barry by refusing to give Janine an alibi despite her begging for help and blaming her actions on her hard childhood but Pat brands her "pure evil". In desperation, Janine goes to Paul and offers to sleep with him in return for an alibi, but Paul throws her out, and she is arrested by the police as she tries to leave the square with a bag of money. Janine is then charged with Laura's murder and remanded in custody in May 2004.
Janine stands trial off-screen in 2005 and Frank tries to persuade Pat to tell the truth in court, giving Janine an alibi. Pat refuses but a conversation with Laura's mother, Edwina (Gay Hamilton), forces Pat to tell the court what really happened. Janine is released but leaves Frank outside the courtroom.
Janine returns for Frank's funeral and is angry that he has not left money in his will; she scatters his ashes before departing. Pat and Ricky later discover that Janine is masquerading as a Jewish orphan named "Judith Bernstein" so she can marry an elderly Jewish man named David (Harry Towb) for his money. They trace Janine to a synagogue, where, just after Janine and David are married, Pat declares that Janine is "as Jewish as a bacon sandwich". David has a heart attack and dies, and a now homeless Janine has no choice but to return to Walford.
She makes various enemies, among them Jack Branning (Scott Maslen), whom Janine drugs and then restrains so she can gain a taped confession of his past misdemeanours, which she uses as blackmail to gain control of Walford's car lot. Pat and Jack usurp her, reclaiming the business. In need of money, Janine teams up with Archie Mitchell (Larry Lamb); they make plans to ruin the Mitchell family by taking The Queen Victoria public house from them. When they manipulate Sam Mitchell (Danniella Westbrook) into breaking her bail terms, the Mitchells lose bail surety and face financial ruin. Ian provides the Mitchells with a loan on condition they use their pub as collateral. Janine has sex with Ian recording the tryst, then blackmails him, threatening to show his wife Jane (Laurie Brett) unless he sells the Mitchell loan to Archie. Archie subsequently takes control of The Vic when the Mitchells are unable to meet the terms of the loan.
Meanwhile, Janine and her flat mate Ryan Malloy (Neil McDermott)—with whom Janine is having sex—plan to fleece Archie. Archie and Janine announce their engagement, but on Christmas Day, Archie—who has realised Janine is intending to con him—throws her onto the street, leaving her distraught. That same day, Archie is murdered by an unknown assailant (see Who Killed Archie?). Janine becomes a suspect for his murder, though she denies it and feigns distress over Archie's death. While she attempts to frame Ian and the Mitchells for the murder, Peggy attempts to frame her, planting evidence in her flat, which leads to an arrest but no charge. In the end, Janine is cleared and Bradley Branning (Charlie Clements) is held falsely responsible for the murder, although, unknown to everyone, Bradley's wife Stacey Branning (Lacey Turner) is Archie's actual killer.
When Ryan confesses his love for Janine, she recoils, but when he attempts to leave Walford, she admits she loves him too. Despite Janine nearly straying on her hen night, she and Ryan marry, but marital happiness is short-lived when Ryan discovers he is the father of Stacey's daughter Lily. A feud erupts between Janine and Stacey when Janine reports her to Social Services for neglecting Lily. Later, Janine kidnaps Lily, suggesting to Ryan they leave Walford with the child to separate Ryan from Stacey. Her games push Ryan and Stacey closer together and they begin an affair. When Janine finds out, she vows to kill them both. She buys sedatives and poisons Ryan. He is left bedridden but manages to escape and ends their marriage publicly after being released from hospital. Hurt and angry, Janine discovers Stacey is Archie's murderer and goes public with this, but is largely ignored with no concrete evidence. Desperate, Janine visits Stacey; she stabs herself to try to frame Stacey for her own attempted murder, but Stacey escapes the country before arrest. Blaming Janine for Stacey's departure, Ryan refuses to reunite with Janine and attempts to kill her by removing her oxygen tubing when she is hospitalised. She is saved by Ricky's chance arrival, but both Ricky and Pat denounce Janine's actions when she admits her injuries are self-inflicted.
Ricky and Janine receive news that their maternal rich grandmother, Lydia Simmonds (Margaret Tyzack/Heather Chasen), is ill and in need of care. Janine takes her grandmother in, with the ulterior motive of inheriting her fortune. Janine learns that Lydia is very similar to herself and they both put on an act of hating each other. Janine eventually admits she loves her grandmother, but Lydia's health quickly deteriorates. Janine discovers Lydia has left all her money to charity, but admits to Lydia she no longer cares during a heartfelt conversation. Before she dies, Lydia explains that she wanted to look after Janine after her mother died but Pat and Frank wouldn't allow it. Janine is devastated by Lydia's death but her family, including Pat, accuse her of killing her. On Ryan's behest, Janine is questioned by police, but released without charge and Janine is stunned when she inherits Lydia's estate, making her a millionaire. Janine later happily achieves full closure from Ryan after learning that he has fled Walford.
Janine buys various properties and businesses; she starts a property management company and a women's fitness centre with her boyfriend Michael Moon (Steve John Shepherd). She also buys a share in the nightclub R&R, making Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden) her reluctant partner; both clash over the running of the club. When Pat needs money to pay debts, Janine gives her a loan, insisting Pat use her house as collateral. She later brings the loan payment deadline forward, refusing to believe Pat is dying. Despite a period of animosity, Janine makes peace with Pat before her death, with Pat convincing a pregnant Janine to keep Michael's child. Janine accepts Michael's marriage proposal after he reluctantly agrees to sign a prenuptial agreement. When Jean Slater (Gillian Wright) tells everyone, including Janine, that Michael stole her money and lied to her, Janine refuses to believe Jean's claims and dismisses them because Jean is bipolar. However, Janine's enemy Kat Moon (Jessie Wallace) returns and demands Janine repay the funds or she goes to the police. Michael eventually confesses the truth to Janine on her wedding day and offers her ultimatum: that she rip up the prenuptial agreement or the wedding is off. Janine is torn between the two but eventually agrees to cancel the pre-nup; Janine and Michael marry but she goes into labour 11 weeks early at the wedding reception. At the hospital, Janine undergoes a cesarean and her daughter is put into an incubator, which distresses Janine who wants to see her. The baby is named Scarlett but after a breakdown with Ricky, she decides to change Scarlett's name to Patricia in memory of Pat and has her christened.
Janine hopes to make peace with Jean so writes her a cheque for double what she is owed, however, Michael tears it up and pays her the correct amount, plus £1000 from Janine. Janine later begins to doubt Michael's intent when he asks to be a signatory on the business accounts and buys a sports car, so orders Billy to change the combination on the office safe. Michael's strange behaviour continues, leaving Janine convinced he is having an affair. She confronts him, offering him a suitcase of money and saying that if he really loves her, he will refuse to take it. Michael is furious and tells Janine that she cannot hope to be a good mother to their baby. Believing him to be right, Janine packs her bags and hands Scarlett to Michael, taking the money and leaving. Michael is informed that Janine has transferred all the money from her bank accounts and has ordered that her business Butcher's Joints be closed down, transferring all her properties over to another estate agent, leaving Michael with nothing.
Several months later, Janine returns to Walford and visits Michael, where Kat tells her how Michael has coped without her. Janine tells Michael that she is back for Scarlett, and says he will be hearing from her lawyer. Janine manipulates Michael into giving her custody of Scarlett and she denies Michael parental access. She then hires Michael's former nanny, Alice Branning (Jasmyn Banks) to look after Scarlett, pleasing Michael as Alice is on his side. When Janine catches Alice stealing jewellery from her house, Alice explains she is stressed because Michael is putting demands on her to see Scarlett, and she has been letting him do so. Janine agrees that it is better for Scarlett in the long-run to have a relationship with both her parents. At Ian's restaurant opening, Janine, as an investor, has the sign and name of the restaurant changed from "Ian Beale @ Le Square" to "Scarlett's" which pleases Michael. They apparently call a truce, but Janine then leaves in a car with Scarlett, telling Michael that she may never return.
Michael eventually tracks Janine down and she returns to Walford. She employs Danny Pennant (Gary Lucy), who Michael is jealous of, and buys a share in Michael's boxing club. Janine has sex with Danny but tells him that it is a one off. She rehires Alice as her nanny, unaware that she is still being manipulated by Michael, but fires her again when she tells Janine that she had sex with Michael. The increasing animosity between Janine and Michael leads to her taking out an injunction out against him. Michael then begins a plot to kill Janine, and involves Alice in his plans. Alice has second thoughts and tells Janine of Michael's plans. When Janine confronts Michael he tries to strangle her, leading to Alice stabbing Michael in the back to stop him. Alice then leaves to answer the door, but realising Michael is still alive, Janine stabs him again in the stomach, killing him. Alice believes she killed him, and Janine tells the police that Alice stabbed Michael twice and also attacked her, and tells Alice that the real story is something her mind created. Alice's brother, Joey Branning (David Witts), seduces a lonely Janine in a bid to extract the truth from her, but fails. Janine's former step-brother David Wicks (Michael French) suspects that Janine is guilty of the murder, so he manipulates her into allowing him to stay at her house, and then into admitting that she killed Michael. David promises to keep her secret, but has secretly recorded the confession on his phone. Meanwhile, Janine is planning to buy The Vic and sells her share of R&R and her car to do so. David then reveals the recording to Janine and blackmails her into giving him the £250,000 she has raised. Janine panics and tries to kill David by hitting him with a car. However, he suffers only minor injuries. After she hands over the cash, he threatens to call the police anyway. She convinces him to give her a day to get away, but Carol Jackson (Lindsey Coulson) finds David's phone and plays the confession. She gives the phone to Joey, who calls the police and Janine is arrested for Michael's murder, and is dragged away by the police, sobbing hysterically.
In February 2014, Kat visits Janine in prison and tries to convince her to drop her statement against Stacey. Janine agrees on the condition that Kat provides her with a false witness testimony to Michael's murder, backing up Janine's story that Alice killed him. Kat agrees and does so. At the trial, when Janine hears that Alice has tried to kill herself, she tells the truth. The jury return a not guilty verdict for both Alice and Janine. She returns briefly to Walford and tries to make amends with the people in The Vic, but everyone including Carol are completely hostile towards her and she leaves. Janine then leaves for Paris to join Scarlett and Diane, after attempting to con a married couple who have won the lottery.
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The character was first mentioned in September 1987, when her father Frank Butcher (Mike Reid) first appeared on-screen. Frank and his children Ricky (Sid Owen) and Diane (Sophie Lawrence) were introduced as regular characters in 1988. However, Janine did not become a regular character until a year later, in June 1989, her arrival completing the Butcher family.
Janine was initially seen as a 6-year-old, played by Rebecca Michael. In 1993, following a storyline that saw her stepmother Pat (Pam St. Clement) imprisoned for manslaughter, Janine was sent to stay with her off-screen sister Clare, but she returned later that year, played by 11-year-old Alexia Demetriou who reigned as Janine from 14 October 1993 until 12 March 1996, when the character was written out again, as Demetriou left to concentrate on her studies. Executive producer Matthew Robinson re-introduced Janine in 1999 as a 16-year-old played by Charlie Brooks.
In 2002, a storyline saw Janine using drugs and prostituting to fund the habit. She was shown about to snort cocaine in a scene that sparked viewer complaints to the BBC. Brooks has said about Janine's behavior: "Sleeping with her pusher is very sad and desperate. But she feels she has to do it to get more drugs. Janine has such low self-esteem that she's deliberately reckless. She thinks, 'Why not take drugs if they make me feel good about myself for a while?' I think she knows she's on a slippery slope but she believes she can get out of it like she's always done before." Brooks left the show in 2004 but returned in 2008. In June 2009 she signed a three-year contract.
In December 2009, the show's executive producer, Diederick Santer teased about upcoming storylines involving Janine and her flatmate Ryan Malloy (Neil McDermott), saying: "There's something really interesting with Ryan and Janine [...]. They're both people who don't know how to love. So will they fall in love? And if they do, can they cope with it? Will they understand the alien feelings coursing through their bodies?" In August 2010, Janine proposes to Ryan. Brooks said that the idea of getting married would be daunting for the character, but added that she believes Janine is genuinely in love with Ryan. She commented: "It's easy to assume that Janine is playing games or using him for sex, but [...] Ryan clearly adores her too, so he may be the man to tame her wild ways." Brooks hinted at possible trouble for the couple if Janine discovers that Ryan fathered a baby with Stacey Branning (Lacey Turner), saying "Janine will be absolutely destroyed when she finds out. She wants Ryan all to herself, and the idea of a baby snatching his attention away would be devastating. All she needs is to be loved." McDermott stated that he believed Ryan was the right man for Janine, and that they could be perfect for each other, saying: "Janine's never loved any of the men she's been with before. She has only ever been in it for the money. Ryan understands her and knows why she does the things she does. They both forgive one another's mistakes very easily, and that's why their partnership works."
In February 2011, Janine's estranged grandmother, Lydia Simmonds, "a lady of class and dignity," was announced. Lydia's backstory states that she loved her daughter June but hated the man she married, Frank, so she grew old alone. Lydia and Janine have been estranged for many years and Janine is shocked to have her grandmother back in her life. Executive Producer Bryan Kirkwood said: "I can't wait to see Janine meet her match."
On 28 October 2013, it was announced that Brooks had decided to leave the show for a third time but to allow for Brooks to return again, the character would not be killed-off. After Janine was cleared of the charge of murder she departed on 20, March 2014 her last appearance being shown in St Pancras.
Janine has been well received by critics although some of her storylines have come under criticism. In 2001, it was reported that education experts blamed delinquent young characters in soap operas, like Janine, for increasing disorder and violence in schools. In 2002, scenes involving the character were the source of viewer complaints, when Janine prostituted herself to pay for cocaine that she was about to snort. Television watchdog Mediawatch UK claimed "the scenes were another example of the gradual erosion of standards of taste and decency". Tory MP Tim Yeo also chastised the scenes saying, "The makers of a programme as popular and influential as EastEnders, particular on a public service channel, have a duty to be responsible in terms of not glamorising drug-taking, especially when a young audience is watching." Liberal Democrat MP Nick Harvey added, "No one can deny these things go on in real life. But showing them before the watershed to an audience appreciably younger than the people it's happening to normalises these things and de-sensitizes people to the shock of it." The BBC defended the storyline, saying, "Although the storyline implied Janine had taken drugs, there were no scenes that actually showed her using them. EastEnders has always tackled difficult issues like drug-taking in a responsible way, mindful of its responsibilities to its younger audience."
Brooks was awarded "Best Bitch" at the Inside Soap Awards in 2001. In March 2009, Brooks won the "Bad Girl" award at the 2009 All About Soap Bubble Awards, which are voted for by the public, for her portrayal of Janine, saying: "I'm thrilled that viewers think I am so good at being bad!" Brooks also won Villain of the Year at the British Soap Awards in 2004 for her portrayal of the same character, and was nominated in the same category in 2011. Brooks won her third Inside Soap Award for Best Bitch in 2009. In February 2011, the love triangle storyline between Janine, Ryan and Stacey was nominated in the "Best Love Triangle" category at the 2011 All About Soap Bubble Awards. She also won the award for "Best Bitch" at the 2012 Inside Soap Awards. On Digital Spy's 2012 end of year reader poll, Brooks won "Best Female Soap Actor" with 23.0% of the vote.
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