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The Evolution of Janine Butcher
From Tramp to Vamp
By Michael McCarthy
It seems that where Janine Butcher is concerned, a Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist
childhood would have been a vast improvement over the catch as catch can growing up in
the Square that’s he experienced.
The first strike against Janine, an absentee mother, and a father the likes of Frank
Butcher, a Jack the lad, dodgy motors lothario who never grew up or out of womanizing.
Marriage is a temporary inconvenience for this silver-tongued adolescent. A child raising
a child is a recipe for disaster.
Just ask Peggy Mitchell or better yet ask Pat Evans. Both ladies are not exactly poster
girls for monogamy.
Janine was always at the mercy of, if not strangers, then certainly, strange men. While
still a teenager, she became more than her stepmother Peggy could stand, living over the
Vic. When push came to shove, Frank lined up with his wife and not for the last time,
Janine became homeless.
Terry Raymond, still mourning the death of his daughter Tiffany and the breakup of
his marriage to sexually awakened Irene, volunteered to give Janine a home. Could a
precocious teen and a confused Good Samaritan share the same apartment without one
thing naturally leading to another? Janine misread Terry’s intentions and what started as
a business partnership in real estate came to naught and so once again, Janine becomes an
orphan of the storm.
Older than her tender years, unable to pay the rent on a closet-sized single room, she
turns to that oldest of professions: prostitution. Not content with selling her body, Janine
becomes hooked on cocaine. A girl who likes to double down, Pat tries to reach out to
Janine, to slow the runaway train that is her life, but is rebuffed.
Janine hits rock bottom when Ian Beale becomes a client losing what little dignity he had,
wrecking his marriage to his wife Laura.
Friendless and homeless, sickened by a life out of control, a friend appears in the unlikely
person of Billy Mitchell. He has compassion for Janine having himself suffered abuse
while a child in a home for buys. They become their own private support group and lo
and behol, Janine turns her life around.
Billy marries Little Mo Slater and Janine locks her sights on her boss at Evans Motors, a
divorced, dejected, fatherless Barry Evans. Only Janine could juggle Paul Trueman of the
B&B and Barry craving one playing the other, becoming a femme fatale before our eyes.
If all these permutations of character seem impossible for any single actress, then say
hello to Charlie Brooks, a one-girl brass band with a smile as wide as the Grand Canyon.
Yes, we love to hate her and yes, every so often our heats do go out to her. Brooks is a
fearless actress who dares us not to care about what happens to Janine Butcher.
The only comparable acting feat on EastEnders would be what John Altman did for Nick
Cotton. Not since Macbeth and his Lady, has there been such a “Power Couple.” Alas,
only in our dreams, can we imagine what might have been, a dance between vipers of
equally toxic proclivities. Nick Cotton may be gone for now but Janine will be us for
hopefully many plot-twisting years to come.