EastEnders spoilers: Hetti Bywater on Lucy’s murder – “It’s a new dark chapter for the Beales”

"It’s such a big deal for viewers because not only has Lucy been in the show for 20 years, it’s also that the whole Beale clan is so iconic," adds the actress

Get ready for the start of a new soap whodunnit: yes, Lucy Beale – daughter of Walford stalwart Ian – is to meet her maker in scenes to be shown on Good Friday. But who is going to do the deed? And what impact will her murder have on the Beale family? Here, actress Hetti Bywater, who has played Lucy since 2012, tells us about her dramatic exit and how she feels about leaving the BBC1 soap:


So, what does it mean to you to have such a big exit storyline? 
When it was announced it really did go everywhere! It’s such a big deal for viewers because not only has Lucy been in the show for 20 years, it’s also that the whole Beale clan is so iconic – and that’s why it makes such a big impact.

Plus splitting twins up is so horrific. It’s going to be a great story for the Beales and start a new dark chapter for them. That’s what the focus is going to be on – it’s not going to be so much about the death, it’s going to be about afterwards. All the implications of it and everyone’s journey. It’s a bit scary and overwhelming, and the fact that it’s going to go on for so long. I am ecstatic that I got given this opportunity because it’s amazing and challenging and great to be part of such a big storyline. 

How do you think viewers will react when they see it on screens?
You see deaths on soaps quite a bit and often they tend to be older characters or they tend to have bad sides to them. What’s so sad about this is that Lucy is having all these troubles and she’s trying to build her life back up and get her stuff together, thinking this isn’t how she’s going to live her life and she’s going to start a new chapter. And that’s when it all goes wrong.

So, in the run-up to her death, how is Lucy feeling about Max?
She’s just a bit unsure about everything. She’s got to a point in her life where she’s having a bit of a breakdown and nothing is really certain in her head. She’s just in a really muddled place with everything that is going on at the moment. She’s following her instinct rather than figuring out what her true emotions are, which is why she is getting herself in more and more trouble.

She has a lot of problems with her Dad; it’s almost as if Max is giving her that fatherly support. From Max’s point of view, the fact it’s a secret makes it more exciting but on Lucy’s part. the excitement goes away very quickly. She doesn’t know what her emotions are. The excitement goes when the guilt comes. 

Does Lucy see the letting agency as a fresh start? 
Definitely. It’s something to aim towards. She wants to grow up quickly and she hasn’t really had a childhood. She has her Dad constantly telling her she can’t do things because she’s too young and she just wants to prove everyone wrong and be a person that other people can look up to. 

Why does Lucy take a chance on Lee?
Because she feels that everyone in her life lies to her and can’t be trusted. She has a lot of trust issues with her friends, obviously, with everything that’s going on with Max, and her family. And this boy comes along who is a little bit cheeky, he’s from the army and very confident, but isn’t afraid to tell her how it is and be honest with her. 

Is she worried that Cindy knows her secret? 
It’s a weird relationship. I don’t think she trusts her 100 per cent but I think she hopes that Cindy would be almost afraid to tell anyone her secret and wouldn’t cross Lucy in that way.

And what’s Lucy’s relationship with Ian like? 
It’s complicated! She can hate him so much, but then if he sheds a tear or is upset she can’t help but feel sympathy. It’s really difficult for her, to have all that hatred that can go away in a second if he breaks down. That shows that she does have a heart, she can be emotional. She loves him but she thinks he can be an idiot!

We learn a lot about Lucy this week – is there still more to learn? 
Yes definitely – there’s going to be a lot to learn about Lucy!

Do you know who killed Lucy Beale? 
No. I thought I was 100 per cent sure and that I had it sussed out in my head. But after talking to everyone else on the cast I’m not sure anymore. Everyone’s having little bets and coming up with their own theories. 

What was it like to have to keep the storyline secret?
It was so difficult! I’d known for about five months before it came out. It felt like as soon as I knew suddenly everyone was coming up to me and asking me what my storylines were and where our characters would be in a couple of years’ time. I had to make up things in my head! It was hard. The hardest person to keep it from was Jacqueline [Jossa] as we always talk about what we’re going to do in the future.

What are your favourite moments from filming?
What I’m doing right now – the stuff leading up to Lucy’s murder. I’ve had good storylines in the past, throwing the money out of the window was fun. It was odd to hold that much money in my hand! But definitely the stuff I’m doing right now.

Working 12 hours a day every day has been draining, but that’s almost helped me when doing the scenes and getting in to that character. I was the most grumpy person on set and that really helped me! It was fun to have to really think about my character and I’d read my scenes weeks in advance and I really cared about what I was doing. The end storylines have been the best – they are great scripts!

Who are you going to miss seeing the most?
Jacqueline, definitely. And Himesh [Patel], he’s the most amazing person in the world. I’ll miss Adam [Woodyatt] as he’s like an embarrassing Dad, giving me advice about money and everything. I’ll miss Ben [Hardy] as well as we get on really well. And Shona [McGarty] obviously!

Are you going to watch the episode where Lucy is murdered when it airs? 
I don’t know. I will watch it in a corner on my own! No one else is allowed to watch it with me. You have to, don’t you?! 

What’s next for you? Is there a dream job you would have? 
I wouldn’t do musical theatre. People tell me I’ve got an all right voice but I don’t like the sound of it, so definitely no singing. I wouldn’t mind doing a serious play – that would be nice for something a bit different. Ideally, if I lived in a dream world, I’d do a period drama. I love period drama. One day, I would love to be in a period feature film, but that’s dreaming! I’d also love to do something gritty.