Last night’s Eastenders saw Peter Beale (Ben Hardy) and Lauren Branning (Jacqueline Jossa) walk off into the sunset as their characters departed Albert Square for the last time. In a rare happy ending the childhood sweethearts made up their differences and decided to start a new life together in New Zealand, and whilst their departures had long been publicised (Hardy has been cast in the new X Men film and Jossa has just given birth to her first child) fans still had to wait until the final few minutes to see whether the young couple would depart together.
Their last episode saw both Peter and Lauren share secrets with each other which lead to their reconciliation. As viewers had previously seen, Lauren had worked out that a member of the Beale family had killed Lucy. However after last week’s revelation that Bobby Beale was the killer, Peter’s confession presumably convinced her that they could now move on and start a new life together.
Viewers only saw Peter telling Lauren from afar at Lucy’s graveside due to the scenes being shot before Christmas and before live week. It was a fitting end to the love story that they left the Square hand in hand after many ups and downs over the years and a lovely touch as it was revealed that Lauren has kept their baby after previously attending a consultation to get an abortion in last week’s episodes.
Both actors will be missed in the show; they have been integral to the Lucy Beale plot over the past year and are fine young actors. Ben Hardy is the sixth actor to portray Peter but has very much made the role his own and is the definite Peter for many. The news that he has just been cast in the latest X Men film means it is unlikely we will see him in Albert Square again but I hope the character of Peter returns in the future, he is a Beale after all and has a place on the Square. Jacqueline Jossa joined the show five years ago and has been on screen ever since such is her character’s popularity, being integral to the Max and Stacy affair and portraying her character’s struggle with alcoholism. There are no current plans for her to return to the show but I hope we see her again in the future with baby Branning/Beale; her presence will certainly be missed on Albert Square.
After the dramatic and emotional scenes in last week’s anniversary episodes it was comforting to have a change of pace and witness that very rare thing in soap: a happy ending. Well done Eastenders.
EastEnders Continues Thursday at 7.30pm on BBC One.
Contributed by Rachael Miller