EastEnders. Villains, Past and Present
By Michael McCarthy
The dictionary defines .villain. as a .cruelly malicious person,
If all politics are local, then crime is a neighbourhood occupation,
an equal-opportunity employer that can never really be wholly erased.
Over the years, Walford has had its share of villains, running the
gamut from Nick Cotton to Steve Owen, and many others between these
In the beginning, EastEnders. first episode, broadcast on 19 February
1985, begins with a kick. A young, handsome Dennis Watts applies his
foot to the locked door of the flat belonging to Reg Cox, a harmless
old pensioner. Den screeches, .Something stinks in .ere.. Too late.
Reg.s death was not from natural causes. Alas, poor Mr Cox was the
first victim of a one-of-a-kind, vicious, sadistic villain, Nick
Cotton. Not the first criminal on the Square, but give the devil his
due, an evil spawn of Satan himself.
Nick, a villain for all seasons, was both a drug dealer and a heroin
addict, whose disciples for a time, Lofty and Mark, comprised Nick.s
Both Lofty and Mark freed themselves. However, Mark was given a death
sentence; he became HIV positive. When Mark.s younger brother Martin
came under Nick.s influence, Mark acted, letting Nick fall from the
railroad bridge, resulting in his losing the use of his legs.
Before I bid adieu to Nick, there are two instances that place Nick at
the top of the criminal ladder. He attempted to poison his mum Dot for
a windfall of cash. Always forgiving of Nick, her cross to bear, she
finally realized just how evil her son was when Nick indirectly caused
the death of his son and Dot.s grandson Ashley. When last seen [on US
public TV episodes] Nick was on his way to prison. A born survivor,
Nick may be down but he.s far from out.
Dirty Den Watts: A charming rogue, a narcissistic womanizer, who
impregnated then teenaged Michelle Fowler, the best friend of his
adopted daughter, all behind the back of his wife Angie. This
silver-tongued devil had his finger in as many pies as ten fingers
Den became involved .The Firm. (editor.s note: organized crime) after
he lost the Vic to Frank and Pat Butcher. Den became manager of
Strokes Wine Bar, an organization business front, and he promptly
urged a member of The Firm to set fire to a competing winebar, the
Dagmar, as retaliation for its owner Willmott-Brown raping best friend
Pete.s wife Kathy.
The Old Bill caught up with Den, who earned a stint behind bars,
suffered beatings inside and a death threat. Upon his release, a Firm
hit man shot Den, his body falling into the canal. As we now know,
Den.s death sentence was voided in favour of a 14-year holiday in
When Den finally returned to the Square, he promptly framed new rival
Phil Mitchell for armed robbery.
Frank Butcher, an original Jack the Lad. In midlife, Frank marries his
childhood sweetheart Pat. Landlord of the Queen Vic, Frank also owns a
used-car lot, and is an operator in the full sense of the word.
Frank, in order to solve a cash flow problem, decides to hire Phil
Mitchell to torch the used-car lot. A homeless man burned up with the
car that he was sleeping in. Not only was there no insurance payout;
Frank was also looking at criminal charges. Frank hit the road for
Grant and Phil Mitchell, the Krays of Walford. Grant, younger brother
of Phil, was an ultra-violent psychopath, killing a 16-year-old boy
while in the army during the Falklands War. A bottle of nitro is a
milkshake compared to Grant. In a jealous rage, he beat Vic owner
Eddie Royle to a pulp for looking at then wife Sharon, who married
Grant because she thought it was real love. Grant wanted children,
which does not interest Sharon, who, all of a sudden, has the hots for
his older brother Phil.
None the wiser, Grant busies himself with a raid on a betting shop,
and then in a rage torches the Queen Vic, thinking he can collect
insurance money. A pattern formed: Grant beats Sharon, he goes to
prison, gets out swearing he.s reformed. The only problem was that he
found out about Sharon and Phil carrying on behind his back. Grant
beats his brother to a bloody pulp in the Arches.
Phil ends up marrying Kathy, who.s pregnant with his child. Grant beds
Tiffany. Adultery rears its ugly face, and Grant lets his fists do the
talking. Sharon, Michelle, Tiffany, Kathy . all attracted to Grant?!
Tiffany gives Grant his child.
So how does all this end? Grant flees to Rio with his daughter. Phil
owns the Vic, the Arches, the pool hall. He uses the used-car lot (now
run by Roy Evans) for stolen cars. When last seen, Phil broke out of
jail, and was still in the wind.
Steve Owen, suave manipulator. The owner of the E20 nightclub
accidentally kills his girlfriend Saskia, and talks his teenage
employee Matthew into taking the rap. A coke addict with a guilty
conscience, Steve woos and marries Melanie Healy. A drug dealer and
high roller, no pun intended, Steve is being chased by Phil throughout
London. Trapped inside his car, Steve manages to hand over Phil.s
daughter Louise, who was in the back seat, just before the car
explodes and consumes Steve in flames.
Jack Dalton, a vicious crime boss, met his end in a wooded area when
Dennis Rickman shot this truly evil villain to death. Andy Hunter is
Jack.s successor. A sharp-dressed villain, he.s moved in on Phil.s
empire, first taking over the betting shop and then getting engaged to
Phil.s sister Sam. It.s as if Richard III is wooing the Lady Anne in
spite of the fact that Richard murdered her family.
Andy is a snake, a charming sociopath who so far is having his way
with Sam, while acquiring of all things, the Arches. Will crime
continue to pay or is Andy about to take a fall?
Dear readers, who are your all-time favourite EastEnders villains?
Drop us a line on this not-too-formal survey via email at
P.O. Box 271, Kings Park,
Back to Latest Articles