EastEnders' 15 most memorable exits
As Peggy Mitchell reaches the end of the road on EastEnders (opens in new tab) and another soap icon is given a dramatic send-off, we paused to think about the other famous and infamous exits from Albert Square.
From Nasty Nick to Tiff and Dirty Den, a melodramatic offing is the only way to say goodbye to a character who's loved... or hated... by millions.
To mark the end of an era on EastEnders, the BBC for the first time is releasing a collection of Albert Square's most memorable exits, via digital streaming and download service, the BBC Store (opens in new tab).
Many of the archive episodes featured in the BBC Store EastEnders Iconic Exit Collection have not been available to own before, some haven't been available to watch since they were first broadcast.
Which 15 episodes made the Iconic Exit Collection?
1 The Discovery of Reg Cox (Feb 19, 1985)
The debut episode of EastEnders in February 1985 started with the exit of character Reg Cox, as Den (Leslie Grantham), Pete (Peter Dean) and Ali (Nejdet Salih) break into his flat and find the missing old man, with Den uttering the immortal first line “Cor, stinks in ‘ere, dunnit?” See the Fowlers, the Beales and the owners of the Queen Vic pub, the Watts, for the first time.
2 Den Watt’s First ‘Murder’ (Feb 23, 1989)
Den’s shooting by a hitman with a gun concealed in a bunch of daffodils is one of most iconic scenes in EastEnders history. Den Watts (Leslie Grantham) had got himself into increasing trouble with the local gang ‘The Firm’. It was Leslie grantham's first exit from EastEnders...
3 Arthur’s Last Day (May 20/21, 1996)
Troubled Arthur Fowler (Bill Treacher) had spent his final months behind bars, after he was wrongfully imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit of stealing money from his friend Willy. A blow Arthur receives to his head during the prison fracas proves fatal and he suffers a brain haemorrhage at his beloved allotment.
4 David Wickes' First Exit (Nov 21, 1996)
The son of Pete Beale and Pat, David Wicks (Michael French) was another of Walford’s wide-boy womanisers. He had an affair with his half-brother Ian’s (Adam Woodyatt) wife Cindy and then arranged to have Ian shot, before embarking on another affair with old flame Carol. When the truth came out he was ostracised by his family and left the square.
5 Tiffany dies on New Year’s Eve (Dec 31, 1998)
At the time of her death Tiffany Mitchell (Martine McCutheon) was experiencing marital difficulties with husband Grant (Ross Kemp) and the couple were on the verge of splitting up, arguing over custody of baby daughter Courtney. As Tiffany tried to flee from Grant she ran straight into the path of an oncoming car, driven by Frank Butcher (Mike Read).
6 Goodbye Grant (Oct 25, 1999)
Grant leaves Walford after an altercation with his sibling when Phil pulls a gun on Grant after hearing about his tryst with Phil’s ex-wife Kathy (Gillian Taylforth). The dramatic story sees the brothers’ car plunge into the River Thames with Grant missing after Phil is rescued.
7 Ethel’s Death (Sept 7, 2000)
The death of Ethel (Gretchen Franklin) was one of the most moving in EastEnders history. Ethel knew she was terminally ill, but wanted to die with dignity and having kept a stash of morphine hidden away, needed assistance. She begged Dot (June Brown) for help and Dot, after wrestling with her conscience, eventually decided to assist her friend. This episode was voted by Radio Times readers as the most poignant EastEnders death.
8 Trevor Morgan Holds Little Mo Hostage (Nov 1, 2002)
Trevor Morgan (Alex Ferns) was the estranged, violent husband of Little Mo (Kacey Ainsworth). He began a campaign of intimidation against her, culminating in taking her and his son Sean hostage at the Slaters' and setting fire to the house. Mo and Sean are rescued, but Trevor is killed in a powerful explosion.
9 Mark Fowler Rides Into the Sunset (Feb 14, 2003)
Mark Fowler (Todd Carty) was one of the first soap characters to become HIV positive and viewers saw him live with the condition for many years. After being told by doctors that his body was rejecting his medication, viewers last saw him riding off on his motorbike for his final adventure.
10 Den Watt’s ‘Second’ Death at the Hands of Chrissie (Feb 18, 2005)
When Den returned to Albert Square decades after he 'died' in 1989, he was back to his womanising ways again and his affair with Zoe Slater (Michelle Ryan) ultimately led to his downfall, with both his wife Chrissie (Tracey Ann Oberman) and lover Zoe helping to kill him and bury him under the Queen Vic pub. It was EastEnders' 20th anniversary.
11 Dennis Rickman Dies in Sharon’s Arms (Dec 30, 2005)
Dennis Rickman (Nigel Harman) beat up local gangster Johnny Allen (Billy Murray), leading to revenge attack. Dennis is stabbed at the New Year’s Eve celebrations, dying in Sharon’s arms after finding out earlier that she is pregnant with their first child.
12 Gary and Dawn Get Their Happy Ending (Aug 28, 2009)
Mechanic Gary (Ricky Groves) always had a soft spot for neighbour Dawn (Kara Tointon), and eventually Dawn realised Gary was the one for her and the pair became engaged. But when Gary finds out that Dawn had been having an affair with his boss Phil (Steve McFadden), he jilts her on their wedding day and decides to leave Walford on his canal boat. Determined Dawn ran alongside the canal declaring her love for Gary until he allowed her and Summer on board.
13 Carl White is Killed by Ronnie (Jan 1, 2014)
When Ronnie (Samantha Womack) returned to the Square after her spell in prison, she was a much darker character than viewers had previously seen. Always protective of younger sister Roxie (Rita Simons), Ronnie totally disapproved of Roxie’s boyfriend Carl White and wanted him out of her sister’s life. When he tried to rape Ronnie, she defends herself and later slams the car boot on his head, killing him.
14 Au Revoir to Janine Butcher (Mar 20, 2014)
Frank’s troubled youngest daughter developed into a baddie we all loved to hate. Over the years Janine (Charlie Brooks) was involved in a number of dramatic storylines including pushing Barry (Shaun Williamson) over a cliff. Her exit storyline comes shortly after she’d been imprisoned for her part in the murder of former lover Michael (Steve John Shepherd). But being Janine, she was found not guilty and headed off to a new life in France to live with her sister Diane and daughter Scarlett.
15 Nick Cotton’s Death (Feb 13, 2015)
Nasty Nick Cotton (John Altman) was the original villain of the Square and, having faked his own death, Nick returned to the Square in late 2014, but had to live in hiding. Nick dies from an overdose with Dot beside him, refusing to call an ambulance to help him. Despite efforts to hide her crime, Dot is eventually sent to prison for her role in her son’s death.
The EastEnders Iconic Exit Collection is available to buy from the BBC Store (opens in new tab) on Thursday, May 19
Watch some of the exits in this teaser:
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Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix.
An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.