*This article contains spoilers from Friday's episodes*
Soap fans were praising Linda Henry’s ‘Oscars-worthy’ performance on Friday’s EastEnders as the Carter family learned that the body found beneath the floorboards of Argee Bhajee was Tina Carter’s.
Mick (Danny Dyer) and Shirley Carter (Linda Henry) led the double episode edition, which viewers believed put EastEnders firmly back on the top of the soap charts as it delivered drama and top-notch acting worthy of Albert Square at its finest.
It was hard not to be affected when Shirley, distraught, wailed to her son: “[Tina] was trying to come home Mick, she was trying to get to us. She nearly made it to the doorstep. She ended up five minutes away, rotting.”
One fan wrote: “Linda Henry’s acting was #Oscars worthy. Heart wrenching scenes with Shirley and Mick Carter”.
Like many watching, a viewer wrote that they were ‘broken’ by the episode – “Danny & Linda were incredible tonight..”
Another tweeted: “Linda Henry who plays Shirley, is one of the most phenomenal, yet overlooked actresses. Literally delivering big screen performances every single time. Queen.”
Linda Henry who plays Shirley, is one of the most phenomenal, yet overlooked actresses. Literally delivering big screen performances every single time. Queen. #eastendersMarch 4, 2022
It’s early days but Linda should get cracking on her winner’s speech for the British Soap Awards.
Earlier, the heavy emotions were lightened in episode one, as Mick got a pummelling in a charity boxing match – in the world’s smallest ring – UNTIL his opponent trash-talked him about his impending divorce, inspiring a Rocky-like comeback to overcome the size differential and win the bout.
But Mick’s own knock-out blow came moments later, at the end of the episode, when police revealed they had identified the body of Tina, who had been missing for almost a year, with viewers already aware she had been murdered by Gray Atkins.
A fan summed up for many the anticipation of the Carter’s payback against Gray (for in soaps there is always a reckoning): “Gray's downfall next week in #EastEnders is gonna be better than The Wire, Breaking Bad and Mad Men COMBINED.”
That revenge will be delivered very soon as Mick declared to Shirley: “This is what we're going to do for her – we're going to find that scum that did this and we're going to make them pay. With or without the old bill we’re going to make them pay...”
With that, some fans realised the end for Gray was near, as it is for the Carter clan, with Danny’s recent revelation he is leaving EastEnders.
“It breaks my heart that Danny and Linda will soon no longer be together on our screens,” a viewer responded.
It breaks my heart that Danny and Linda will soon no longer be together on our screens. Absolutely stunning performances from both of them every single time 🙏 #EastEnders pic.twitter.com/6BcUwFikWHMarch 4, 2022
Another summed up the impact of the double bill: “Normally, TV shows don't have this effect on me, but after watching the two @bbceastenders episodes from today, my eyes were watering like I'd been peeling onions.”
Stay tuned for Gray’s demise in EastEnders on BBC One next week.
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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.