EastEnders' Danny Dyer and Kellie Bright reflect on end of the Carters' era
The Carters' era on EastEnders began in 2013, but Mick and Linda's time on screen ends this Christmas.
The end is nigh for Mick Carter.
Actor Danny Dyer is bowing out from his iconic EastEnders role as Mick on Christmas Day after nine years on the show opposite on-screen 'other half' Kellie Bright, who plays Mick's ex-wife Linda Carter.
The beloved soap couple divorced earlier this year with a little help from scheming Janine Butcher (Charlie Brooks) who wanted Mick all to herself.
Now, Janine's schemes and crimes (including framing Linda for drunk driving following a car crash) look set to be exposed on Christmas Day but the revelations and consequences - on a clifftop, no less - spell the end of Mick's time in Walford.
Speaking to RadioTimes.com and other press at a screening of the Christmas episode, Danny Dyer and Kellie Bright looked back on their time on the show together.
Mick and Linda Carter turned up at the Queen Vic pub at Christmas 2013 and have been staples on the show ever since.
The couple arrived as an extension of the family of popular character Shirley Carter (Linda Henry), who had recently been joined on screen by her sister Tina Carter (Luisa Bradshaw-White).
Arriving in the pub on Christmas Day to surprise Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden) as the new owners of the Vic, Mick and Linda were joined by son Johnny Carter (Sam Strike) and their bulldog Lady Di, named after Linda's beloved heroine Princess Diana.
The family later grew in 2014 with the addition of Mick and Linda's daughter Nancy Carter (Maddy Hill), son Lee Carter (Danny-Boy Hatchard), Shirley's father Stan Carter (Timothy West), and Shirley's aunt Babe Smith (Annette Badland).
When asked if he thought he would last nine years on the show, Dyer answered: "No I did not think I would last nine years. Listen, when I came into this show I was a f**king car crash. I can't believe I got given a shot. My career was on its f**king ass. It was.
"I've said this before, it was, I was going to nightclubs waving off of balconies to loads of people to pay my f**king mortgage. I've made a lot of bad decisions. I was in a bad place. [Former EastEnders executive producer] Dominic Treadwell-Collins took a risk on me."
More like this
He added that he and Bright were "obviously on trial to try a new family to take over the Vic" and "had so much work". "We just got our heads down, we drew on all our experience, came in with Maddy Hill, Sam Strike, and Lady Di the Bulldog - God rest her soul, she's gone now.
"She's been replaced by a younger sister - she’s not currently on screen. So we was on trial with me and we just got our heads down. We loved it. We loved the material. We loved the characters."
Of the on-screen family’s bond, Bright added: "We loved each other."
She added: "You know, me and Danny and Maddy and Sam, we were very, very close that first year. And of course, Danny-Boy Hatchard came and joined us."
Dyer continued: "Tim West. Annette Badland...I'm so proud of that era that we had, you know, and it's sad to think you know, that all could come to an end. Obviously, I really did appreciate all the years that we had, and we did some really strong beautiful work and the show has to change and has to, you know, move on.
"I didn't think I'd last as long as nine years now in answer to your question. In a million years."
Kellie Bright also went on to reveal that she did not originally imagine Dyer as Mick Carter as he was not the person she screen-tested with.
"No, no, no, because I actually screen-tested with someone," revealed Bright. "Yes, I did. And it wasn't very good. I'm not going to tell you it was [laughs]. No, no, no, that’s not fair.
"I did think: 'Oh no, if this is who they paired me up with, it's not going to work.' And I didn't hear anything after that meeting for about a week and I just thought it had gone. I was just like, ‘It’s never going to happen,’ really. And then I got a phone call to say that they were looking at other Micks or others, I don't even know if I knew your [Dyer] name then or names.
"But it hadn't gone away and I would probably have to go back in and read with someone else. And then literally within a couple of days, I got a phone call to say 'You don't have to come back in and read. We're offering you the job. We've offered someone else,' but they wouldn't tell me who. And it wasn't until we went for a sort of secret photo shoot [that we met].
“We'd never come across each other in our careers or anything. The first time we ever, ever put Mick and Linda on was when we filmed our first scene. That was it, but there was no screen test. There was no like, 'If this is going to work between them.'"
Dyer added: "Credit to Dominic Treadwell-Collins again for being brave enough to put us together and rolling the dice. You know, we're basically playing his mum and dad is what we were doing because his mum and dad, it was a perception. So you know, he got it right, he pulled it out of the bag, he trusted us and we’ve absolutely rolled with it."
The characters have been through many hard hitting and emotional storylines, including Johnny coming out as gay to Mick, Linda being raped by Mick's brother Dean Wicks (Matt Di Angelo), and the revelation that Shirley was Mick's mother.
They also tackled Mick's fear of water, Linda's bulimia and later battle with alcoholism, their son Ollie's autism diagnosis, son Lee's battle with depression, Linda having cervical cancer, Mick's history of being sexually abused as a child, further dramas with their children, and their enduring love story.
Dyer and Bright did recall one of their favourite moments on set when Bright’s "chicken fillet" fell out while filming an early scene for Nancy Carter’s wedding to boyfriend Wayne in early 2014.
Bright explained: "I came into the show, I can remember having a very early conversation with a producer. They had this story about Linda being an ex-Page Three girl. I'd love to do it [but] this is not going to be a good story because [gestured to her own breasts], so I adopted - for Linda - a little extra bosom to try and sell the fact that I could have been a Page Three girl.
"So right from the beginning, I've always worn chicken fillets in my bra. I call them chicken fillets, they’re not chicken fillets."
Bright then revealed: "Early on we were absconding from a wedding with Maddy. He [Mick] had Maddy over his shoulder, we were running down the road to jump in the car, and as I ran along, one of mine fell out of my bra under my top and fell on the floor in front of everyone for everyone to see. Well, needless to say, I was in hysterical laughter because I was sort of mortified but it was also just the funniest."
Dyer noted: “I just find that really funny, we were really bonded by that point. Just it was where our relationship was at. We really did rely on each other really intensely. We know everything about each other.”
A thoughtful Bright continued: "It’s a life shared, you know, that's the thing. It's nine years playing husband and wife, [and] it's almost like nine years being husband and wife on a show like EastEnders, just because you do see this person daily and they go through all your real-life events with you.
"You know, Danny was at my wedding. He's gone through IVF with me, there's stuff that we've shared that, you know, it makes saying goodbye very hard. I didn’t… I didn't do well - I cried basically from, sort of, July.
"And you eventually left and in the end, I was sort of relieved. I’ve got no tears left. He's got to go (laughs)."
An emotional leaving do was had for Dyer ahead of his exit, where he was awarded the Albert Square sign board from the show - a traditional gift for departing cast members.
However, Bright and other cast members also awarded him with his very own tailored neon sign.
“They bought me a solid gold neon sign, so I'm obviously known for swearing in a bad way…," he said.
Bright added: “Danny's got a little saying that you probably say almost daily.”
Dyer interjected: "‘So, shall we shoot the c**t?' May be a little unpalatable but it’s something that I would say and it's something that anyway, I've had some issues with my wife trying to put this sign up in the house."
Bright said: “A neon sign basically saying…”
Dyer answered: "It said ‘shoot the c**t.'"
Despite the laughs, Dyer noted that it was "a beautiful evening actually". "Everyone turned out for me. Very, very emotional speech. Yes. I did. A lot of tears, both crying. We were both crying."
Bright noted that a trailer of Dyer’s best bits was what prompted the most emotional reaction from those present.
"That was really I think that's what sort of sent us over the edge," she explained. "Watching our journey back, history. There's a lot of meaning."
So, while Mick Carter is set to depart EastEnders on Christmas Day, only a handful of Carters remain on Albert Square.
Earlier this year, the family had it confirmed that Tina had been murdered by serial killer Gray Atkins, while Nancy departed Walford once more before Mick's daughter Frankie Lewis (Rose Ayling-Ellis) also quit.
Linda, of course, has been confirmed to be remaining on the show, while her former mother-in-law Shirley is also set to remain in the show.
What will the future hold for the remaining Carters now?
- EastEnders cast: Who is joining, leaving and returning to the soap?
- EastEnders boss Chris Clenshaw reveals why Lola Pearce has to die
- 11 EastEnders Christmas 2022 spoilers: Exits, lies and manipulations as Jada returns
- EastEnders' Janine is 'fearful' of Jada's surprise return
- EastEnders' Kellie Bright: 'Linda's let Mick go'
- EastEnders teases clifftop drama ahead of Mick Carter exit
Visit our dedicated EastEnders page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers. If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide or Streaming Guide.
The Christmas double issue of Radio Times magazine is on sale now – subscribe now. For more from the biggest stars in TV, listen to the Radio Times View From My Sofa podcast.