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Thursday, 18 February 2016

How Dominic Treadwell-Collins saved EastEnders

So last night there was an announcement worthy of an EastEnders duff duff, the man credited with saving the show tweeted that he was leaving the show after Peggy Mitchell's final scenes in the summer. Dominic Treadwell Collins and his team have turned the show around and made it great again which is why his tweet was most unwelcome.

The was as unexpected as some of the twists and turns in Albert Square of late. So let's look back at his time on EastEnders.

Cast your minds back, if you will, to a pre-DTC time in Walford. For a start, there were no Carters beyond Shirley. It’s hard to imagine Albert Square without Mick, Linda and their brood. Before they took over the Vic, life in E20 was pretty dull, revolving around Kat’s affair with Derek Branning (yuk), the obsession with love triangles – at one point everyone on the Square was involved in a triangle amoureux, even if it involved someone they were related too – and Sharon Rickman’s lacklustre return. Some massively unpopular characters were introduced, Ava and Dexter Harman. And the less said about David Essex’s turn as Eddie Moon, the better.

It wasn’t a huge surprise that ratings had dropped to under five million. Emmerdale was trouncing it in the ratings for the first time in forever. The awards shelf was as barren as Aunt Babe.

All in all, things were looking even bleaker than an EastEnders Christmas special.

But in July 2013 it was announced that current show runner Lorraine Newman had quit, and that former story producer, self-confessed EE addict and the creator of Ronnie and Roxy Mitchell folks, Dominic Treadwell-Collins would be taking over the big chair.

DTC, as the press lovingly nicknamed him, had quit EE in 2010. During his first stint he’d left quite a legacy creating not only the Mitchell sisters, but also soap’s first gay Muslin character in Syed Mason and the Who Killed Archie Mitchell storyline. So his return to the helm caused much excitement. Here is how I think he saved the soap.

The Carters
One of Dom’s first moves of genius was getting Kat and Alfie out of the Vic. This wasn’t a hugely popular move with the die-hard Kalfie Krew, but for everyone else who knew they’d overstayed their welcome behind the bar, it was a huge relief. And he replaced them with Danny Dyer. I remember being pretty sceptical about the casting at the time, back then DD was more known for his off-screen antics rather than his acting skills, but I am very happy to say that I called this completely wrong. Danny’s Mick Carter, along with lovable wife Linda and their kids, Johnny and Nancy (joined later by Lee) and Shirley’s sister, Tina, gave the Square the reboot it had been screaming out for. Since then, the entire nation has fallen in love with Mick and Linda, Shirley has become an absolute icon and Danny Dyer is an award-winning actor.

Who Killed Lucy Beale?
The murder of Ian Beale’s daughter was teased as being one of the biggest storylines EE had ever seen and we weren’t disappointed. From the moment Lucy’s body was found on Walford Common on Good Friday 2014, it seemed like the entire country was talking about it. Every single viewer had a theory on the whodunit, which was backed up by a very clever marketing campaign. The mystery continued for ten months before it was revealed during the Live Week celebrating the show’s 30th anniversary that Bobby Beale had killed his sister. It was amazing. It was like Walford meets Broadchurch. Viewing figures were over 10 million.

Live Week
It’s impossible to discuss Dom’s triumphs without mentioning Live Week. Of course the other soap’s had all done live episodes by this point, but DTC raised the bar once again with an entire week of shows with live segments and a fully live episode on February 19th which marked 30 years since the show’s first episode. The live bits passed without anyone falling over, fluffing their lines (I won’t mention How’s Adam) or long silences when no one knew what they were supposed to be doing. It also showed some flawless performances from Adam Woodyatt, Laurie Brett and Mimi Keene. Live Week was heralded a raging success, watched by over 20 million people.

During Dom’s reign some incredible actors have returned to the soap. Stacey Branning (Lacey Turner) came back from being on the run in Mexico and is currently at the centre of a hard-hitting post-partum psychosis storyline that has been praised by critics, charities and everyone in between. The biggie was obviously Gillian Taylforth’s Kathy Beale comeback from the dead at the end of the Live Episode. We’re eagerly awaiting Scott Maslen’s full-time return and guest stints from Barbara Windsor, Ross Kemp and Danniella Westbrook.

There have been more jaw-dropping duff-duff moments over the last couple of years than ever before. We’ve had drunken Shirley accidentally revealing to Phil that Mick is her son, not her brother, THAT Kathy Beale moment, Shabnam’s secret baby with Dean, Kat’s secret son, Mick’s secret brother and Sharon’s dad reveal to name but a few. The shocks have just kept coming. We hope they don’t stop with Dom’s departure.

So there you have it, proof that DTC is the saviour of EE. He will be sorely missed. Sean O’Connor (current editor of The Archers) will be taking the reigns from Dom and I wish him nothing but good luck. He has some very big shoes to fill.

 Contributed by Katy Brent


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