Sharongate - everything you need to know about the iconic EastEnders storyline

EastEnders Phil Mitchell Sharon Mitchell and Grant Mitchell in 1994
(Image credit: BBC)

Here's all you need to know about the history between Sharon, Phil and Grant...

There's nothing quite like a Walford love triangle, but when it is three of EastEnders' most infamous characters who are caught up in the drama, you get a storyline that no one will ever forget.

Sharon Mitchell's (Letitia Dean) affair with Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden) while she was still married to his brother, Grant Mitchell, has gone down in Walford history as one of the best episodes in EastEnders' 35 years.

But what exactly happened in the storyline that fans lovingly dubbed 'Sharongate'? Here is everything you need to know...

When did Sharon marry Grant Mitchell? 

eastenders, grant mitchell, sharon mitchell

Sharon was once married to Phil's brother, Grant (Picture: BBC)

Sharon and Grant tied the knot in December 1991, but it didn't take long for the newlyweds to start arguing.

Grant made no secret of the fact he wanted a trophy wife, but Sharon refused to comply.

The pair clashed when Grant announced he wanted to start a family, but Sharon revealed she would rather focus on making the Vic a success in honour of her late dad, Den Watts, who had been the previous landlord of the pub.

After one argument, Grant smashed up the Vic and disappeared for a few weeks, leaving Phil to pick up the pieces and Sharon wondering if she had married the wrong Mitchell brother.

When did Sharon's affair with Phil Mitchell start? 

Phil 'breaks up' with Sharon

Phil and Sharon have always had a rocky romance (Picture: BBC) (Image credit: BBC/Jack Barnes)

Grant's thuggish behaviour lead to Phil and Sharon growing closer, and as Phil helped Sharon run the pub in Grant's absence, the pair shared a secret kiss one night while clearing glasses - and so the affair began.

In 1993 Grant hit Sharon, leading to Michelle calling the police.

Grant was fuming when the police arrived and lost his temper, hitting an officer and Michelle in the process.

He then ended up in jail, leaving Phil and Sharon free to continue their affair.

What happened in the Sharongate episodes?

Sharongate was a long-running storyline that saw Sharon confess to having an affair with Phil while recording an interview with best friend Michelle Fowler.

Unbeknownst to them, Sharon's confession was recorded and ended up in Grant's hands, leading to him discovering all the gory details of Sharon and Phil's affair.

Heartbroken and angry, Grant then played the tape at Phil and Kathy's engagement party, leaving the whole packed pub stunned as Sharon's recording confessed everything.

While Sharon and Phil stood there helpless as their affair was revealed, Grant stormed out of the pub, leaving Kathy to slap Sharon in shock.

More: Things you didn't know about legendary actress Anita Dobson 

When did the Sharongate episodes originally air?

EastEnders Sharongate 1994 Grant Mitchell (Ross Kemp)

Sharon was stunned when husband Grant exposed her affair to the entire pub (Picture: BBC) (Image credit: BBC)

The climax of the storyline that saw Phil and Sharon's affair revealed to the entire pub aired on 24th October 1994.

The now-iconic episode was watched by 25.3 million viewers, making it one of the most-watched episodes in EastEnders history.

More: Things you didn't know about EastEnders star Kellie Bright 

What happened to Phil, Sharon and Grant after Sharongate?

Immediately after finding out about Sharon's affair and playing the tape to the pub, Grant went to The Arches, only for Phil to follow and try to explain.

However, Grant wasn't in the mood for listening and instead let his fists do the talking.

He ended up beating Phil so badly that he was rushed to hospital with a ruptured spleen and was lucky to survive.

The aftermath of Sharongate also saw Letitia Dean bow out of the soap after 10 years playing Sharon, with the repercussions of Phil and Sharon's betrayal being the centre of many Mitchell storylines for years to come.

You can watch the iconic Sharongate episode on Tuesday 30th June at 7.30pm on BBC One 

Claire Crick
Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch

Claire is Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch and has been a journalist for over 15 years, writing about everything from soaps and TV to beauty, entertainment, and even the Royal Family. After starting her career at a soap magazine, she ended up staying for 13 years, and over that time she’s pulled pints in the Rovers Return, sung karaoke in the Emmerdale village hall, taken a stroll around Albert Square, and visited Summer Bay Surf Club in sunny Australia. 

After learning some tricks of the trade at websites Digital Spy, Entertainment Daily, and Woman & Home, Claire landed a role at What’s On TV and writing about all things TV and film, with a particular love for Aussie soaps, Strictly Come Dancing and Bake Off

She’s interviewed everyone from June Brown — AKA Dot Cotton — to Michelle Keegan, swapped cooking tips with baking legend Mary Berry backstage at the NTAs, and danced the night away with soap stars at countless awards bashes. There’s not a lot she doesn’t know about soaps and TV and can be very handy when a soapy question comes up in a pub quiz! 

As well as all things soap-related, Claire also loves running, spa breaks, days out with her kids, and getting lost in a good book.