The Queen Vic will be under new management by Christmas after Shirley Carter’s younger brother Mick (played by The Football Factory actor Danny Dyer) and his wife Linda (Kellie Bright) take over at the Walford boozer.
Dyer, who is also set to do a stint this autumn on Hollyoaks Later, said of his new role on EastEnders: “I am so excited about starting a new chapter in my career and cannot wait to become part of the East End family.”
Mick, who has been estranged for years from sister Shirley, is described by show bosses as a man who “loves his missus, his kids, his dog, the monarchy and a bit of Land of Hope and Glory”. But despite being a bloke’s bloke, he will apparently think nothing of throwing on Linda’s pink dressing gown and cooking breakfast for the family.
Kellie Bright, who featured in the ITV sitcom The Upper Hand and is best known to soap fans as the voice of Kate Aldridge in The Archers, said of her appointment: “I'm very excited about joining the show. Not only am I looking forward to working with Danny but becoming landlady of the Vic is a real honour.”
Bright's character Linda has been a barmaid for most of her life, but sees herself as a mum first and foremost. Apparently, a candyfloss exterior belies an inner steel, with Linda outlined as “a lioness who will fight tooth and nail for her brood”.
Executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins, who is charged with reinvigorating the series following a fall in ratings, said of his two latest signings: I’m so excited to have actors of Danny and Kellie’s calibre joining what is an already strong and talented company of actors. Having been together over twenty years, Mick and Linda have a good marriage and an easy shorthand with each other – but can also still fight like teenagers.
“They will laugh, cry, argue and make-up… much to the embarrassment of their children and the delight of Albert Square’s residents. Mick and Linda still love each other, no matter what life throws at them. And moving from Watford to Walford, life's about to throw them a few curve balls…”
This isn’t the first time that Dyer, 36, has been offered a role on EastEnders. Back in 2009, the actor scrapped plans to appear on the BBC1 soap after realising he’d be unable to cope with the level of press scrutiny:
“I quite liked the idea of it. But actually, in reality, I just got cold feet,” he told the Daily Star Sunday. “Just from having a meeting it’s all over the newspapers and it gave me the horrors. Imagine if I went in it.”
He went on to add: “I don’t want to write it off totally but at this point in my career I think it would be madness.”
Having obviously now had a change of heart, Dyer – alongside with co-star Bright – will start filming at EastEnders at the end of October, with their first on-screen appearance due at the end of the year.
Their casting follows the recent announcement that former Holby City actress Luisa Bradshaw-White will be joining the soap to play Tina Carter, Shirley’s younger sister.
Key events at the Queen Vic:
1986: Den Watts serves Angie with divorce papers on Christmas Day
1994: The 'Sharongate' drama sees Sharon caught out when a taped confession of her affair with Phil is played by husband Grant at Phil and Kathy's engagement party
2005: Den Watts is killed with a dog-shaped doorstop by wife Chrissie, who then buries his body under concrete in the pub's cellar
2009: More Christmas Day drama as Archie Mitchell is murdered by Stacey Slater, who pushes the bust of Queen Victoria onto his head
2010: A crack-crazed Phil torches the Vic in a bid to hurt his mum Peggy
2012: Kat's mystery lover is revealed to be Derek Branning