Tonight, EastEnders airs the classic ‘Sharongate’ episode as part of the BBC’s weekly treat from the archive during the soap’s transmission break.
Back in 1994, millions tuned in as Grant Mitchell exposed wife Sharon Mitchell’s affair with his brother Phil Mitchell via a tape recording in which the blonde bombshell openly discussed her infidelity with best mate Michelle Fowler.
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A busy Queen Victoria full of punters gathered for Phil and Kathy Beale’s engagement party was hushed by the scandalous contents of the cassette playing over the speakers, and became one of the most explosive exposures in soap history.
It also started a tradition, as the packed pub became the setting for numerous huge reveals via various methods. Sharongate did it with the humble tape, but subsequent exposes sought increasingly ingenious ways of publicly blowing big secrets. Remember these?
Via… baby monitor (1998)
Tiffany (original Martine McCutcheon Tiff, not Bianca’s yet-to-be-born daughter who she was named after) learnt her husband Grant had been having it away with her mum, lusty Louise, thanks to the cheating pair talking frankly and a bit too closely to the baby monitor (Tiff and Grant had recently had baby girl Courtney). The shock was the final nail in the coffin for their marriage and Tiff died trying to escape her unfaithful other half, colliding with Frank Butcher’s speeding car as she fled the Vic on New Year’s Eve.
Via… love letter (2000)
Peggy Mitchell found a heartfelt Dear John letter from husband Frank Butcher (him again) in which he told her she was dumped for his old flame, Pat Evans – but Peg found it before the deceitful duo had a chance to run off together. In an unforgettable, excruciating take-down the betrayed landlady read out every word of Mr Butcher’s admission of amorous activity with Pat flanked by the pair of them, and finished with a slap round the chops for both. And it was fireworks night.
Via… turkey (2008)
Perhaps the cleverest vessel of revelation on our list, evil Archie Mitchell deliberately hid the rolled-up test results confirming the true paternity of granddaughter Amy stuffed in the turkey for Christmas dinner. As Sean Slater carved the bird in the bar, he found (along with the stuffing) proof wife Roxy Mitchell had lied he was Amy’s father and Jack Branning was actually the daddy. Cue volatile Sean losing it, kidnapping Amy and almost killing them both. Bet they didn’t even finish the turkey.
Via… jewellery in a champagne flute (2009)
Another result of Archie’s Machiavellian antics: one of the darkest secrets in the Mitchell family’s past went public as Ronnie raised a glass to her dad’s wedding to Peggy at the couple’s reception in (where else?) Walford’s busiest pub. Swigging back a champagne flute post toast, the locket she gave away, along with the baby she was forced to give up as a teenager, fell out, finally confirming mild-mannered stall-holder Danielle Jones was telling the truth that she was Ronnie’s grown-up long-lost daughter. Archie had previously lied the baby had died, then made out Danielle was a deluded con artist when she claimed to be Ronnie’s daughter. The truth was out – and, of course, all the customers witnessed it.
Via… a mobile phone (2010)
Lauren Branning had a recording on her phone of Stacey Branning admitting she murdered Archie. Angry her brother Bradley died with everyone assuming he was guilty, vengeful Lauren gave the incriminating confession to Janine Butcher, who hated Stace for stealing husband Ryan Malloy. Unfortunately, when Janine tried to stage her own Sharongate moment in the Vic to destroy her rival the recording had been wiped. Nonetheless, Janine told everyone in the boozer what Stacey had done, despite her smoking gun fizzling out. Embarrassing.
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