EastEnders’s executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins has revealed that the mystery surrounding the death of Lucy Beale will continue through to 2015 – and that viewers should expect plenty of surprises along the way.
“It’s going to run into the 30th anniversary during February next year,” he said at a press event to launch the 2014 Easter episodes. “But there are some very big curveballs to be thrown at the audience between now and then. And in the run-up to Christmas this year, there is a big twist that will make everybody gasp.”
Ian’s daughter Lucy (Hetti Bywater) is set to meet her maker during scenes to be shown on Good Friday, with the Beale family receiving the bad news the following week.
This isn’t the first time that EastEnders has aired a whodunnit (past plots include the murder of Archie Mitchell and the shooting of Phil Mitchell), but Treadwell-Collins has assured viewers that they can expect something different from this latest storyline:
“This is about the death of someone’s daughter, someone’s sister. It’s about family and relationships. It’s very real and we keep checking ourselves to make sure it’s not melodramatic.
“I think that soap whodunnits can sometimes be too intelligent and not come from the heart. Also, viewers are now so much more sophisticated. It’s a little bit naff to see everyone acting suspiciously and Lucy suddenly upsetting everyone for no reason. A death like this is a shock to the family and that’s the way we wanted it to feel for the audience as well.”
The soap’s boss went on to discuss his previous work on ITV’s Midsomer Murders where he “came up with ways for people to die” and also talked about a love of murder mysteries that could be traced back to a childhood fascination with Agatha Christie.
“When I was little, I read every single Agatha Christie book. When everyone else was out running or doing cross country, I was a fat 11-year-old sitting in the stationery cupboard writing little murder mysteries,” he said. “My English teacher once made me stand up in front of my class and said that I was never going to amount to anything because all I read was Agatha Christie.”
Only four people on the production team (including Treadwell-Collins) know the identity of Lucy’s killer and keeping the secret will be priority number one between now and EastEnders’s 30th anniversary.
But one thing’s for certain: that milestone in February 2015 will not be a live episode in the same vein as the 25-year celebrations in 2010.
“No, that’s been done. We don’t do cover versions of greatest hits. We’re singing new songs. Keeping the whole thing a secret is going to be difficult, but later in the year there’ll be a clever bit of trickery to ensure that the audience won’t have a clue who the killer is.
“It’s been so much fun to plot a murder properly on a big scale and to go back to the first family in the Square. It was always part of the thinking to have something massive affecting Ian in the run-up to the anniversary. And it’s paying off.”