It’s the Radio Times wot won it.
Just three weeks after the RT called on EastEnders to bring a pooch back to the Square, the show’s bosses have obliged.
Danny Dyer will play Mick, the new landlord of the Vic and a man who "loves his missus, his kids, his dog, the monarchy, and a bit of Land of Hope and Glory”.
Yes, he does sound a bit Al Murray the Pub Landlord doesn’t he? But the thing that caught our eye was the dog he will be bringing with him – the first major animal star to grace the soap since Wellard died in 2008.
(We’re not counting some of the pretenders to the throne, like Bobby’s pet snake that escaped in Dot’s house recently. We’re talking animal royalty like Den’n'Ange’s Roly, Ethel’s Willie and of course Robbie's beloved Wellard).
The show won’t say what kind of dog it will be or what it will be called. But it does seem rather a coincidence that last month Mark Lawson wrote in Radio Times that the soap needed “the patter of four feet to be heard on set”.
“As a reader from Norfolk pointed out in RT’s Feedback pages last week there are currently no major pets in the BBC1 soap opera," noted Lawson. "And while we hope that the last Albert Square dog has not actually died – fondly imagining such once-trusty companions as Den and Angie’s Roly and Ethel’s Willy living in some off-screen rest kennel – the absence of animal companions coincides with a time when some people in television would now be reluctant to risk a… prediction of the show’s future endurance.”
Now it seems all will be well.
Although whether the new mutt will have what it takes remains to be seen – those are big paws to fill.
Wellard was played by three canine actors and, with 14 years under his belt, was one of the show’s longest running characters, and certainly its longest serving pet.
The Alsatian was ostensibly male but the first "actor" to play her – Zenna – was not. EastEnders bosses hadn't realised she was female and were forced to hire a stand-in after she fell pregnant.
The character was killed off in 2008 when the show's producers realised Wellard would have been 100 in human years...