EastEnders: Michael Moon is stabbed to death as actor Steve John Shepherd exits soap

This evening's episode saw events take a dramatic turn as a showdown resulted in murder

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Warning – this article contains a full recap of tonight’s events on EastEnders

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Villainous Michael Moon (Steve John Shepherd) has breathed his last after being stabbed by both Alice Branning (Jasmyn Banks) and Janine Butcher (Charlie Brooks).

The shock scenes, which aired in this evening’s episode of EastEnders, saw the tables turned on the macabre Michael after Janine learned of his plans to get Alice to kill her with a fatal dose of painkillers.

Having been lured to No 27 Albert Square, Michael – who had been expecting to find the dead body of his nemesis – instead found Janine alive and well and ready to frame him for assault.

As it turns out, Alice had experienced doubts over Michael’s scheme and had confessed all to her employer. The result being that arch manipulator Janine concocted a plan of her own that would see Michael hauled away by the police: she, after all, had a knife wound on her arm, while he had ended up with Janine’s blood on his sleeve.

“I took out that injunction and you just ignored it,” sneered a triumphant Janine as she spun her yarn. “I tried so hard to be reasonable but you just wouldn’t leave me alone. And then you turn up here tonight in one of your foul tempers. You’d been drinking, wanting to see our daughter. You snapped, you threatened me and then you attacked me and I begged you to stop. I begged you to leave me alone but you just wouldn’t listen, so you picked up that knife and then you tried to kill me.”

However, as the stand-off continued, Janine’s retaliatory strike was threatened by the reappearance of Alice. Still confused over where her loyalties should lie, Alice listened to both Michael and Janine as they each tried to convince her of their side of the story.

“Don’t listen to him, Alice,” begged Janine. “He is trying to twist your mind. You [Michael] seduced her, used her and then you threw her away.”

Yet despite Michael’s protestations that Janine was the one who was “replete with venom”, it was her concerns about their daughter Scarlett that finally made Alice see the light:

“He was going to make it look like I’d committed suicide,” said Janine. “Just like his mum did. If he loved Scarlett like you say, why would he do that to her? Why would he leave her for the rest of her life with that?”

With Michael unable to come up with a decent explanation and with the police set to arrive in a matter of minutes, he made a last-ditch bid to take Scarlett, only to find that Janine had locked the door behind which she was sleeping.

Driven to despair, Michael screamed at Alice for betraying him and tried to strangle the life out of Janine. During the fracas, Alice picked up a kitchen knife and stabbed Michael. But little did she know that as she ran to the front door to let the police enter the house, Janine was administering the fatal blow, the handle of the knife conveniently covered by a tea-towel to avoid Janine’s fingerprints being transferred onto the weapon.

So, what lies ahead now that Michael is lying murdered on the kitchen floor? Will Alice take the rap for the crime? Or will Janine confess her part in the evening’s events? Both Jasmyn Banks and Charlie Brooks are set to leave the BBC1 soap in the New Year, but will their characters end up behind bars or fugitives from the law?

Actor Steve John Shepherd, who leaves after three years as Michael, has recently revealed that he is happy to go back to being “a jobbing actor” and said of his exit:

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“It is the end of the line and I’m happy with that. I worked very hard and pretty much built him from scratch. I was very lucky that [former controller of BBC Drama Production] John Yorke gave me someone and said make him what you want to make him. I didn’t want him to be a wide boy, which he was at first. I wanted him to be much more curious than that, and that is what I built.”