The Queen Victoria is as much an EastEnders icon as Ian Beale and the doof-doofs – the iconic Albert Square pub has been the scene of some of the soap’s most memorable moments since it started back in 1985.
Many colourful characters have run the boozer over the years, and as Secrets From the Square looks back at the famous landladies who’ve kept the rowdy punters in order RadioTimes.com ranks them all. Here, in reverse order leading up to our number one favourite, are the top 10 Walford women who have left their mark on the Vic…
10. JAN HAMMOND (Jane Howard)
Who: Original landlord Dirty Den Watts installed his posh bit on the side behind the bar shortly after he chucked out wife Angie Watts (more of her later). Desperate Ange lied she had a terminal illness to stop him leaving her, but the sick plot backfired. Classy Jan lasted five minutes as landlady, and looked like she belonged in a Laura Ashley catalogue rather than a backstreet East End rub-a-dub (cockney rhyming slang – look it up… she probably had to).
9. SHIRLEY CARTER (Linda Henry)
Who: Queen Shirl is only so low on our list as she never really got the chance to run the Vic solo – she was technically landlady when she co-owned with son Mick Carter and his wife Linda Carter (we’ll get there), but it was L who muscled in as the boss and made herself the face of the place, reducing her menacing mother-in-law to essentially a glorified barmaid. There’s a parallel universe out there where Shirley was 100% in charge.
8. ROXY MITCHELL (Rita Simons)
Who: Daughter of dastardly Archie, Roxanne Lizette Mitchell was left the Vic in her dad’s will but felt the pub was a poison chalice after her father was bludgeoned to death in the bar with the bust. She decided to sell up but Auntie Peggy Mitchell (be patient, she’s coming!) pleaded with her niece to change her mind, so Rox signed the place back over to the former landlady. As with Shirley, Roxy was a fantastic character (RIP), but never had long enough properly in charge to prove herself. A shame, as with a bit more time she could’ve been the natural successor to mighty Peg.
7. KAT MOON (Jessie Wallace)
When: 2003-2004, 2010-2013
Who: Gobby glamour puss Kat was a natural fit for Walford’s top job, and went from pulling pints alongside bar manager Alfie Moon to finding love with the cheeky chappie and running the watering hole as husband and wife in two separate stints. Looking back, Kat’s tenures were full of such gloomy, gritty storylines she lost a bit of her spark and got ground down by all the drama, so it was something of a relief when her time was up. Baby swap, an increasingly toxic marriage to Alfie, sleeping with gangster Andy Hunter for money – it was hardly all karaoke and quiz nights.
6. CHRISSIE WATTS (Tracy-Ann Oberman)
Who: Den came back from the dead to reclaim the Queen Vic along with second wife, the slightly creepy Chrissie. She didn’t stand for his philandering so she murdered him and buried the body in the beer cellar, framed Sam Mitchell and tried to flee the country before getting banged up. She was only in the show for about 18 months but crazed Chrissie went down in ‘Enders history as the only woman to get the better of Dirty Den.
5. PAT EVANS (Pam St Clement)
Who: The earring-loving EastEnders legend had her rough edges smoothed off by settling down with childhood sweetheart Frank Butcher and taking over the Vic from Den and Angie in the late 1980s. Mr and Mrs Watts were a tough act to follow but the Butchers made it their own, and while it was very much a double act Pat made a cracking landlady and completed her transformation from Pete Beale’s troublemaking bitter ex to respected Albert Square matriarch.
4. LINDA CARTER (Kellie Bright)
Who: The Carter era was ushered in over Christmas 2013 and all the talk was about Danny Dyer becoming the pub’s new guv’nor, but Kellie Bright exploded onto the screen as his other half and became an instant icon. Combining Angie’s sparkle, Kat’s glamour and Peggy’s tiger mum tendencies that made it all about faaaaamily, L ruled the roost with a rod of iron and a lot of fluorescent pink lycra – until she started drinking all the profits and was forced to sell up.
3. SHARON WATTS (Letitia Dean)
When: 1991-1994, 2001-2002, 2020
Who: Angie and Den’s princess grew up in the famous pub so it was only right she eventually took over, seizing the chance when nice-but-dull landlord Eddie Royle was stabbed to death by Nick Cotton in 1991. Shaz initially ran it with hubby Grant Mitchell and brother-in-law Phil Mitchell, and her bed-hopping between the bruvs kept customers entertained as the love triangle played out in the unforgettable ‘Sharongate‘ storyline. She’s finally back where she belongs after buying the place with BFF Ian’s help from the Carters in 2020.
2. ANGIE WATTS (Anita Dobson)
Who: The OG still takes some beating. Flawed but feisty, effervescent Angie always had a smile and a giggle for the regulars, but beneath the warpaint she was a hot mess of insecurity thanks to husband Den’s womanising which drove her to alcoholism and, at one point, a suicide attempt. She wasn’t actually around for that long, but thanks to the endlessly-played clip of the Christmas Day 1986 episode of her being served divorce papers, Angie – killed off screen in 2002 – still casts a shadow over those who followed. Let’s just gloss over Dobson’s dodgy pop hit ‘Anyone Call Fall In Love’ sang along to the EastEnders theme…
1. PEGGY MITCHELL (Barbara Windsor)
When: 1995-2001, 2002-2010
Who: Seriously? Dame Barbara Windsor’s pocket rocket alter ego is the longest-serving landlady and synonymous with the very concept. The ‘Gerroutta my pub’ catchphrase, the public takedowns of anyone who crossed her clan and got barred, the doomed romances with dodgy fellas, the perfectly-coiffed blonde barnet, the gif-able ‘Let it burn!’ moment when the pub got torched and the unmistakable tough-talking East End authenticity make pint-sized Peggy a shoo-in as the Queen of the Queen Victoria. We salute you.