There was an audible shriek of joy from EastEnders fans when Sharon Watts was revealed as the Queen Vic’s surprise new owner, having sensationally snatched the sale from under Phil Mitchell’s nose and scuppering her husband’s revenge plan.
While it made for a befittingly epic final cliffhanger before the transmission break enforced by the pandemic’s impact on production, it also signals the end of the Carters’ era in the legendary pub, which some fear jeopardises the future of landlord Mick – and Danny Dyer’s time on the show.
Mick and Linda have made the boozer their own since arriving in 2013. They were following in some pretty intimidating footsteps: previously the bar had been run by power couples like Den and Angie, Pat and Frank, and Kat and Alfie, and the mighty Peggy Mitchell is one of TV’s most famous landladies of all time.
Thanks to the dream casting and natural chemistry of Dyer and Kellie Bright, it’s now hard to imagine entering the watering hole without being welcomed by waistcoat-clad, warm-hearted Mick and his beloved, battling L, with her immaculate up-do and sparkly pink tops.
The thought of Mick, in particular, not being in the pub for the first time since he was introduced makes me wonder where else in Albert Square the character would fit.
Noting to Sharon how “alcoholics and pubs don’t mix,” Mick has done the decent thing and got his addict wife away from temptation, which makes the Carters’ departure sound pretty permanent. It’s unlikely they’ll take over another hospitality establishment like the Prince Albert or Ruby’s – and by the time EastEnders returns portraying a post-pandemic Walford, will any of those businesses even be open?
Looking around potential new precincts for Mick to occupy, one option in particular sticks out – the car lot.
It’s been called Deals on Wheels, Maximum Motors and Square Dealz among other names, but I can see Carters’ Cars emblazoned above the portakabin, with Mick using his cheeky cockney patter to persuade people to part with their cash in exchange for a second-hand Ford Focus.
It’s the perfect fit, and continues the trajectory for Mick I’ve always imagined – as the modern day Frank Butcher. There are parallels with character and performer: Dyer ditched his hard man image and reinvented himself to play softie Mick, while the soap relaunched the late Mike Reid’s career back in the 1980s as he successfully transitioned from old school comic to natural actor.
Mick came in as part of a popular pairing, just as Frank was introduced to be Pat’s love interest back in the day, and both were lovable landlords who united the community with a bags of genuine East End charm.
After running the Vic, Frank channelled his inner Arthur Daley and took on the car lot. If anything he’s more remembered for that era than he is for being behind the bar, and we can imagine Mick giving all the bants as he presides over his new kingdom. He’d thrive there, and would still be an important part of the local landscape.
Jay Brown is currently in charge, but he’s had so many careers (mechanic, undertaker…) what’s another change of direction? Stick him on Martin Fowler’s fruit and veg stall and be done with it and sign the gaff over to Michael.
EastEnders is entering a whole new era as it vanishes from our screens for the first time in 35 years, providing an opportunity to shake things up for the characters. While the pub’s original Princess reclaims her inevitably rightful place as landlady, Mick could be entering an exciting new phase.
Although let’s not forget Frank Butcher eventually spiralled into debt and depression and torched the car lot for the insurance money, before having a nervous breakdown and walking out on his family.
On second thoughts, maybe Mick should do deliveries for McKlunky’s instead?