EastEnders. Villains, Past and Present

By Michael McCarthy

The dictionary defines .villain. as a .cruelly malicious person, scoundrel..

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 extremes.

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 cheering section.

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 would allow.

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 sunny Spain.

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 parts unknown.

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
walfordgazette@gmail.com or P.O. Box 271, Kings Park, NY 11754.

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