In February, EastEnders announced that it would be killing off show favourite, Lucy Beale, in spectacular style. The ‘whodunit’ was being billed as “the soaps biggest ever storyline” by producers and it would also launch the most expensive marketing campaign for the show.
On Good Friday, viewers watched helplessly as Lucy walked out of Albert Square after receiving a text message from an unknown source, next seen lying motionless in Walford Common in the episode’s final scene.
Established as Britain’s most depressing and grisly soap opera, EastEnders is no stranger to massive ‘whodunit’ storylines (‘who shot Phil?’, ‘who killed Archie?’) but Executive Producer, Dominic Treadwell-Collins, promises that this will be different to previous ones as it will “come from the heart.”
Well, that’s one way to justify murder, but he was perhaps referring to the emotions that perhaps lie behind it or the destructive shockwaves that the death is sure to send through the Square in the coming months.
The lack of on-screen spectacle with Lucy’s murder has received some criticism from fans who say her much-hyped death was too anti-climactic – we don’t know how, when, where, why or by whom she was killed.
However, this is what writers and producers can play on: after the initial focus on the community’s grief, the stage will be set for a full-on murder inquiry, finding out more about the characters and the secretive Lucy in the process.
The storyline has the potential to attract non-fans with a confirmed end-date: the killer will be revealed in February 2015 to coincide with the show’s 30th anniversary. An incredibly long wait you might think – better left unsaid perhaps – but with the population’s new-found love for detective dramas (Sherlock and Broadchurch, anyone?), it could invite a new audience to invest in ‘Eastenders: The Series’ for the next 10 months.
The marketing campaign is already the best thing to come out of any soap. Sleek camera effects through what appears to be a vignette filter, shows some of the key suspects looking pretty suspicious as they dispose of potential evidence that could connect them to the murder case.
Lana del Rey’s ‘Gods and Monsters’ is also used to brilliant effect. The tagline ‘There’s a killer among them’ could be a bit too dark, especially if the campaign extends to national billboards but there is no doubt that murder has never looked so cool.
Everyone is a suspect according to the storyline’s trailer. Most of the characters seem to have been aggravated by Lucy or affected by her corporate decisions over the last few weeks but whether that has given them sufficient motive for murder will remain to be seen.
Favourites to be the killer include Lucy’s twin brother Peter Beale (who overheard their father telling Lucy that she was his favourite), Max Branning (who was having a secret fling with Lucy) and Lee Carter (no stranger to death having returned from the army and also slept with Lucy the night before her murder).
Someone also knows about Lucy and Max’s affair after he was sent an anonymous email earlier in the week. The mysterious sender might also have something to do with the murder. But things are never straight-forward with EastEnders.
The producers have promised a few big curveballs along the way and a big revelation around the Christmas period. Until next February, we’ll have to put up with the entire cast looking a bit shifty and hope that the twists and turns in the saga are strong enough to keep us intrigued.
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