How EastEnders used TOP SECRET codename to hide Denny's death

EastEnders Denny Ian boat
(Image credit: BBC/Kieron McCarron/Matt Burlem/Amy Sharp)

We reveal the secrets behind the drowning of Walford's Denny Rickman in heartbreaking EastEnders scenes next to the River Thames

EastEnders fans tonight saw young Denny Rickman - who was given the codename "Todd" by bosses to keep his dreadful fate secret - die after being pulled from the freezing murky water along with Ian Beale.

It was heartbreaking stuff and watched on with horror by the other Walford revellers who were lucky to be rescued from the boat. Paramedics pronounced Denny dead after failing to revive him as his pregnant mother Sharon Mitchell (Letitia Dean) was in hospital, having dramatically just giving birth to a baby son in the funeral parlour with Kathy at her side.

EeastEnders star Letitia Dean as Sharon Mitchell Christmas 2019

Sharon is devastated (Image credit: BBC / Kieron McCarron)

It was left to Keanu Taylor (Danny Walters), Sharon’s former lover and the father of the new baby, to break the terrible news of Denny’s death to Sharon! She lashed out and told Keanu to never cross her path, or her baby’s, again!

Terrible consequences...

The ramifications and fallouts from Denny’s drowning will be immense. There are going to be a lot of guilty consciences floating around Walford over the next few months, not least with Phil Mitchell whose attack on the bridge of the boat caused the accident.

EastEnders 35th anniversary logo

EastEnders has had a special logo this week for the dark scenes

Also Ian Beale, who only just survived drowning himself, will know that locking Denny in a store room on the boat ultimately led to his death.

Sharon also isn’t entirely blameless as her affair with Keanu and subsequent pregnancy led to the big fall out with husband Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden) and his adopted son Denny, which led on to the boat tragedy…

EastEnders Denny

Denny in EastEnders (Image credit: BBC/Jack Barnes)

"When we discussed Denny's death, what we above all wanted most, was to have consequence," explains EastEnders executive producer Kate Oates. "And that's the main thing to come out of the death! Particularly for those left behind and the future EastEnders stories it generates.

"It's almost like a Greek tragedy, as his death has been set up for quite some time! We had a lot of arguments about it...the story and conference room was a vibrant place! We knew in our hearts that this was the story that would really power EastEnders through the rest of the year."

Denny’s death also gave EastEnders’ producers Kate Oates and Jon Sen a big headache. Firstly in keeping Denny's death a secret while filming, but also in the scripts for subsequent episodes.

EastEnders bosses gave Denny the codename Todd

The storyline team came up with the clever idea of changing Denny’s name to "Todd" in the future scripts, to throw people off the scent should they fall into the wrong hands.

"We did so much to hide and protect our storyline," producer Jon Sen told us. "In our scripts and story documents the character was given the codename 'Todd'. So if anyone happened to leave their script lying around the truth would not be unveiled!"

The 14-year-old actor Bleu Landau, who’s played Denny since 2015, will of course be leaving the series. "He was incredibly excited to play such a big part in this huge storyline that was so moving and adrenaline-fuelled," explains producer Jon Sen. "In retrospect there was only really one candidate whose death could generate the story we wanted to tell going forward for months and months."

Bleu had replaced the previous child actor Harry Hickles and has had plenty of plaudits for his performances as Denny. He was nominated for Best Young Performance at the 2017 British Soap Awards.

If Bleu sticks to the acting business in the years to come, he’ll no doubt have a bright future ahead of him. EastEnders fans will certainly miss him!


Nicholas Cannon
TV Content Director on TV Times, What's On TV and TV & Satellite Week

I'm a huge fan of television so I really have found the perfect job, as I've been writing about TV shows, films and interviewing major television, film and sports stars for over 25 years. I'm currently TV Content Director on What's On TV, TV Times, TV and Satellite Week magazines plus I previously worked on Woman and Woman's Own in the 1990s. Outside of work I swim every morning, support Charlton Athletic football club and get nostalgic about TV shows Cagney & Lacey, I Claudius, Dallas and Tenko. I'm totally on top of everything good coming up too.