Derek Branning (Jamie Foreman) has breathed his last after keeling over with a heart attack outside No 5 Albert Square. In a shock development, Max (Jake Wood) and Jack (Scott Maslen) stood by and chose not to help their brother as he lay dying, while Kat (Jessie Wallace) attempted to stop Derek’s son Joey (David Witts) from aiding his father.
In tonight’s hour-long episode of EastEnders, villainous Derek was seen orchestrating the entrance of Max’s wife Kirsty (Kierston Wareing, more here), thus exposing the guilty secret that his sibling had attempted to keep hidden for a year. It was a revelation that stunned the Brannings and put paid to Max’s plans to marry Tanya (Jo Joyner) in a surprise Christmas Day ceremony.
Before his death, Derek also had some choice words for both his brothers, beginning with Max:
“You’re a runt! You’re the runt of the litter!” he seethed. “You always have been and you always will be. Me and my father used to laugh at you. Pushing you around. Do you remember the coffin, Maxy boy, eh? Do you remember the night in the coffin? Dad’s friend, the undertaker? I did that to you. Me! To show you who’s boss. Like I’m showing you now. You crossed me once too often. You and that snobby, stuck-up wife of yours. Looking down your nose at me.”
Derek then turned his fire on Jack and mocked his relationship with Sharon: “And you. You and that pill-popping girlfriend. Treating me like dirt. I’m ashamed of you. I’m ashamed of the both of you. No one treats me like that. I am Derek Branning!”
Further vows of vengeance followed, but these look likely to remain unfulfilled for, mere minutes after the showdown, Derek had been ejected from the house only to collapse in the street. No intervention came from Jack, Max or Kat, the woman with whom he’d been recently revealed to be having an affair. Only Joey – calling his estranged father “Dad” in his dying moments – seemed willing to help, but was stopped by Kat: “Leave him, Joey,” she said. “Just leave him.”
Actor Jamie Foreman leaves EastEnders after just 13 months in the role of Derek. Jake Wood said last week of Foreman’s exit: “Jamie was such a pleasure to have around. He’s a great actor, Derek’s a great character and there’s been a fantastic reaction from the public. This is a story arc that has been mapped out for a year. We all knew what the conclusion would be, so it’s not a huge surprise. It was always going to be the case when he joined that he’d be leaving now. But on a personal level, I loved working with him and he’ll be missed - by the viewers, by me and by all the cast.”
EastEnders continues on Boxing Day at 8.30pm on BBC1