EastEnders spoilers: Perry Fenwick on Billy Mitchell’s bleak future – “He’s a cornered rat”

Walford's latest suspect on the chances of his character turning out to be Lucy Beale's murderer

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Last night’s EastEnders cliffhanger saw Billy Mitchell put in the frame for Lucy’s murder following Lee Carter’s  revelations. So what lies ahead for Billy now that he’s suddenly prime suspect?

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Next week’s episodes will see Billy’s world come crashing down around him as he deals with Lee’s (Danny-Boy Hatchard) accusations that he was seen arguing with Lucy on the night she died. Once again, it’s left to Phil (Steve McFadden) to clear up Billy’s mess, but can he keep his cousin out of trouble?

Here, Perry Fenwick discusses the chances of his character turning out to be Lucy’s killer and what happens when Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt) confronts Billy about the crime:

So, is Billy’s world about to crumble now that Lee’s shown up at his door?
Yes, because it’s so out of the blue. The ironic thing with the Lucy stuff, from an acting point of view, is it’s the first time ever in EastEnders where there’s lots of stuff that’s happened off screen that we haven’t shot. When Lee turns up, the pressure’s really on and I’m doing a lot of things and I don’t know why. It’s very odd and confusing but good fun.

Normally, when you get a script, it screams out to you when something’s out of character. We all know our characters better than anyone and you will flag that up. Whereas with this stuff, I just have to play it. It could be a red herring or it could be something significant, but who knows? I did every scene once as Billy, completely innocent of anything  – and then really dark. I haven’t done that since I first came into the show. There’s a line in a script where it’s a ‘door doof’ and it says, ‘this is not the Billy we know and love’. Which, I think, is really dark. 

Have you enjoyed playing the dark side of Billy again?
Yes, it’s such an interesting storyline and nice to be thrown into it. The new generation will say Billy that would never do that, but the long-term viewers of the show will remember that when he first came into the show, he’d been in prison and done bad things.

How does Billy feel when Phil and Lola find out?
Obviously, there’s that’ faaamily’ thing with them. In a sense, stealing the fish and the electric was Billy doing something for Lola and the family. He and Phil  have had their run-ins over the years, but they’re cousins. There’s been many a time when Billy’s helped Phil out. Billy even saved his life a couple of years ago in the Queen Vic fire.

Who do you think killed Lucy?
I don’t know! It’s interesting because, even before she was killed the powers that be were putting in stuff that as a cast we didn’t know about. Everyone has a reason, everyone’s a suspect, but obviously some people more than others. In that respect, it could be Billy, but that’s the beauty of it. When we’re doing a scene in the Queen Vic and someone’s got to look a bit cagey, we’re taking bets on each other. It’s challenging to act as you have to do everything in an ambiguous way. It’s keeping us all guessing.

Is it good to be involved in the storyline?
Yes and it must be great for our executive producer Dominic [Treadwell-Collins] because it’s like a big train set or Cluedo game that he’s playing with. I said to him the other day that it’s great the viewing figures are up, but he’s created a monster for the cast. We can’t walk down the road without someone asking us who killed Lucy. That’s what I’m getting asked 20 times a day. I was in a shop the other day and two policemen tapped me on the shoulder and I genuinely thought they thought I might have been shoplifting. But they just wanted to know who killed Lucy. I said, “that’s your job, isn’t it!” But usually I just say it was Colonel Mustard in the library with the lead piping.

Can you tell us about the scene next week when Ian confronts Billy in the Vic?
Well, Billy feels it’s unbelievable that he’s being accused of this in front of everyone, including Janet. I always say with Billy that he’s like a cornered rat – you never know what he’s going to do next. Like when he kidnapped his kids – it’s impulsive behaviour.

Do you think Billy is as innocent as he’s making out?
You can’t rule him out for the murder, even if you think someone is more obvious. I’m awaiting the next scripts – we’re all playing detective ourselves, especially with our own character. I don’t think Billy would do that for a bit of fish and a part-time job – he’s not going to kill someone for that alone. But I’m interested to see – one minute I’m being good Billy and next minute I’m being bad Billy. It keeps me on my toes. All I can do is what they’re putting in front of me and act it the best way that I can. I don’t really know if he is or not!  

How will you feel if Billy is revealed to be Lucy’s killer?
Well, I’ll be out of a job! He might get away with it, but I think Janine is the only one who can get away with all that. It’s an interesting question. It depends how it all goes. I’ve been playing Billy for 16 years now and I personally don’t think he’s got it in him, but who knows? If someone cracks, if someone gets desperate enough, it could happen. That’s how murders happen – it’s a build-up of stuff and then they lash out. He would be a silly Billy if he had! 

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EastEnders continues on Monday at 8pm on BBC1