EastEnders fans have been left stunned tonight after the BBC1 soap killed off Paul Coker.
Viewers – as well as Phil Mitchell and Ian Beale – had been led to believe that Ben Mitchell had died after being involved in an incident.
But when a heartbroken Phil and Ian came to identify the body, they were shocked to discover – thanks to a mix-up over mobile phones and tattoos – that it was not Ben who’d met his maker but Paul!
It had already been revealed back in April that actor Jonny Labey was to leave the EastEnders cast, although soap bosses had not revealed to the public that Paul was to die.
However, actress Lin Blakley – who plays Paul’s grandmother Pam – did recently warn that fans would be left amazed by the manner of the character’s exit:
“I would imagine it’s going to be hell for Paul’s boyfriend Ben, whatever happens, and I’m sure there will be a few gasps from the audience who’ll think, ‘My gosh, I didn’t see that coming!'”
Blakley’s words do hint at Ben still being alive, although his whereabouts and condition have yet to be revealed to audiences.
Speaking about his reaction when he was told about the plot, actor Jonny Labey said: “When I heard all the details I was shocked, at first, as it was my exit storyline.
“But the storyline is beautifully written and the build up to it is great. So much happens with Jenny coming onto the scene and Paul and Ben taking over the business – it’s all looking very hopeful. The way it’s all been written is great.”
As to how difficult it was to keep the secret, Labey added: “It has been hard, yes! I knew about the exit ages ago, so I had to stay quiet.”
EastEnders continues tomorrow at 7.30pm on BBC1
You can visit our dedicated EastEnders page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers.