Last week’s 30th anniversary live week was a brave challenge, even for EastEnders. Not only did they stage a full live episode, but throughout the week, every aired episode included live elements and essential clues to the 10-month long mystery of who killed Lucy Beale (Hetti Bywater).
It’s been the who-dunnit of the year, with plenty of characters in the running and tons of bets being placed on who actually offed the only daughter of businessman, and rubbish father, Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt). Over the past year, the show has seen a lot of trauma for Ian, the only actor to have starred in the soap since its first ever show in 1985.
Let’s go live
As the week began, the live elements were slightly dubious. Cuts between pre-recorded segments and live parts weren’t as tight as they could have been, and the return of Tanya (Jo Joyner) was marred somewhat by her accidental slip, calling Ian’s character by his real life name Adam. Social media went crazy over this, making it one of the most talked about topics on daytime TV.
— Jo Joyner (@dollyjoyner) February 18, 2015
But, as the week continued, the show managed to pull it together, and Thursday’s 90 minute show proved to be the best of the week. Nick Cotton (John Altman) finally kicked the bucket and his long suffering mother Dot (June Brown) was arrested after claiming to be his killer, a group of residents stumbling across his body. Die hard EastEnders fans spotted the direct reference to the first ever episode in which Reg Cox was discovered dead in his home. In other news, Kim Fox (Tameka Empson) gave birth live in the Queen Vic pub (leaving people wondering how Richard Blackwood’s character is related).
Lucy’s last moments
Little references to Lucy’s death throughout the week were subtle and a nice touch, pulling together the week’s storylines. The one downside was the absence of Lucy’s best friend Lauren (Jacqueline Jossa), who didn’t feature in any of the live elements, having given birth in real life to baby girl Ella last Sunday. Lauren’s presence was noticeable for most fans, particularly during Thursday’s flashback episode, which showed Lucy’s final moments.
— Jacqueline Jossa (@jacquelineMjos) February 19, 2015
The flashback made it clear to viewers that Lucy Beale had the night from hell before she was murdered. The episode revealed that Lucy’s uncle, Ben Mitchell (Harry Reid) and Jay (Jamie Borthwick), were up to something secret, and that they met her just before Jake Stone (Jamie Lomas) did. Lucy’s return to the Square in a taxi with Jake was confirmed, and explained how her blood and earring were found in the flat. Apparently, she helped Jake back to his house when her lover, Max Branning (Jake Wood), stumbled upon the pair and helped them inside. An angry and drunk Jake accidentally hit Lucy, and that was one part of the mystery wrapped up.
From there, Lucy ran into Abi (Lorna Fitzgerald) who later claimed to father Max that she had just ‘battered’ her. Lucy then caught up with stepmother Jane (Laurie Brett), and viewers were given hope that Lucy would decide to become a better person. These hopes were swiftly dashed as Lucy heard Ian’s fiancée Denise (Diane Parish), on the phone saying she was ready to leave Ian. They argued, but an unscathed Lucy made it downstairs to write a letter to her father, in the moments immediately before her murder. Predictably, the shock twist came right at the end of the episode, as a worried Jane ran to the house and discovered Lucy’s body. Turning around, she became the first person to see who the killer really was – Lucy’s half-brother Bobby (Eliot Carrington).
There was a standard media frenzy in the seconds following the reveal, with people saying that the episode had been an anti-climax. Earlier in the week, when the killer was initially revealed as Jane, it seemed like most people had guessed that she was covering for Bobby, who she adopted as her own son. The fatal flaw of the writers and producers was the decision to remove some suspects so early on in the week. With Max and Abi ruled out on Tuesday, and Ian on Wednesday, it left little room to keep up the suspense. Jane covering for someone else suddenly seemed like an obvious scenario.
The public response
Over 500,000 tweets marked the live episode of the show, making it the most talked about soap episode in TV history. The social media storm even went as far as America. Unsuspecting teenager Bobbie Beale was confused by tweets sent to her about being Lucy’s killer (also the name of real life Bobbie’s dog).
— BBC EastEnders (@bbceastenders) February 20, 2015
It’s all over – or is it?
Despite a few glitches in the week, Friday’s live episode was a total triumph. Seemingly running smoothly, none of the cast or crew made any noticeable mistakes. It was a fraught time in the Beale household, as Jane finally revealed the truth to Ian and Peter (Ben Hardy), and Cindy (Mimi Keene), chose to take two very different sides of the story.
Jane explained that Bobby hadn’t meant to kill Lucy and was also in the dark, she had even told him that Lucy had left the house and was killed by someone else. The episode ended with the Beale family deciding to continue keeping the truth from Bobby, although tensions are bound to be strained in coming weeks. It has also been revealed that Hardy is to leave the Square for good.
It’s pretty clear that this week left us with more questions than it answered. What were Ben and Jay planning with Lucy? What was Lauren doing that night? What happened between Denise and Lucy? And Bobby and Lucy? Was there an argument before the fatal hit?
Although Bobby’s blow was the ultimate action in Lucy’s demise, on Good Friday we saw her being physically assaulted by Max, Jake, Abi and Denise. They might not have killed her, but all these characters are culprits in some way, The Bobby reveal makes sense to most, explaining why Jane took him away to Birmingham immediately after Lucy’s murder. It also explains why police officer, Emma Summerhayes (Anna Acton), waited to go to the police, despite solving the case.
Wow! What a night #EELive! I’m still in a state of shock from the reveal & all the twists & turns! No wonder Emma didn’t see the car coming!
— Anna Acton (@acton_anna) February 20, 2015
Regardless of mixed public opinion, the soap certainly had a masterful week, and celebrated their 30th anniversary in style. The fallout of the reveal, and other storylines touched on, will be the main focus in coming weeks. It’s hard to believe that Bobby won’t eventually discover the truth about what he did to his sister, but for now viewers are also desperate to know whether Mick Carter (Danny Dyer) really has killed his brother Dean (Matt di’Angelo). If so, at least we won’t have to wait 10 months to find out who dunnit.
Live week undoubtedly caused a lot of sleepless nights for the cast and crew, but the success was worth it, gripping the nation and bringing them together. Credit has to go to the return of Kathy Beale (Gillian Taylforth), previously thought dead, in a shocking live moment that set Twitter on fire. Who could have guessed that she would step out of that taxi? EastEnders definitely got us there.
One thing’s for sure – Lucy’s murder being solved doesn’t mean the end of the drama for the Beales.
What did you think of live week? Have your say in the comments section below.