Having your name above the door of a soap pub is a privilege that places you at the heart of the community, guaranteeing maximum screen time and high-profile storylines.
EastEnders‘ Queen Victoria is one of the most iconic boozers in TV history that has seen a string of legendary landlords and ladies in charge – think Den and Angie Watts, Kat and Alfie Moon and the mighty Peggy Mitchell.
As current owners Mick and Linda Carter prepare to sell up and move on, our thoughts inevitably turn to who will take over, but what about the less memorable tenures as bar bosses? Who are the forgotten kings and queens of the Vic? And why didn’t they go the distance? Allow RadioTimes.com to jog the memory…
The former police officer fancied a career change and bought the boozer from Frank Butcher in 1990, but his past as the Old Bill made the locals suspicious of their new landlord. Understandable as most of the Vic’s customers are criminals. Nice guy Eddie wasn’t the most exciting character which is probably why you’re struggling to remember him, and his most memorable storyline was his exit – Mr Royle was murdered just over a year after he joined the show sparking a whodunnit that eventually led to nasty Nick Cotton, who stabbed him when the ex-cop caught him attempting a robbery.
You might recall hunky alpha male Dan was the man who seduced mum and daughter Carol and Bianca Jackson in the late 1990s, but he also briefly owned the Vic. Sneakily snapping up Grant Mitchell’s shares for a fiver when he left in 1999 made Dan co-owner with Peggy and Frank, but Phil soon stepped in with a plan to reclaim the family business. Challenging his nemesis to a card game to win back the shares paid off, and Dan got his £5 refunded.
Another rival hard man who muscled in on the Vic’s ownership just to spite Phil was smooth operator Steve, who was revealed as Sharon’s sleeping business partner when she bought the pub back off debt-ridden Peggy in 2001 after six years away from Walford. Mr Owen was owner in name only, never getting the chance to host a Spandau Ballet theme night sadly, and had to sell his stake back to the Mitchells to raise the ransom when wife Mel was abducted by Dan Sullivan – him again – as revenge for Phil swindling him out of being joint landlord in the aforementioned card game. Some people are just bad losers…
Back in 2005 when Dirty Den died for real and was buried beneath the barrel store by merry widow Chrissie Watts who put him there, entrepreneur Ian was the proud owner of the Queen Vic… for about two minutes. Panicking Chrissie planned to flee when Den’s body was dug up and impulsively sold the pub to Ian to ensure a quick getaway, but once Mrs Watts was apprehended the paperwork Mr Beale had taken his biro to was deemed invalid, as she admitted to faking Den’s signature on the transfer of the business after she’d bumped him off. Nice try, Ian.
Technically, the Butcher bad girl also held the keys to the historic hostelry, if only for a couple of hours, in 2009. In a throwback to the Dirty Den saga, Janine and fiancee Archie Mitchell blackmailed Ian to sell them the loan he’d promised Phil to secure the Vic to pay for his sister Sam’s bail for her part in Den’s death. Hoping to rub Phil and Peggy’s faces in it, Janine got a nasty shock when Archie double crossed her and threw her out, having rumbled her scheme with lover Ryan Malloy to fleece him financially once they tied the knot. Archie was bludgeoned to death by Stacey Slater wielding the Queen Vic bust later that night, so that’s karma for you.