EastEnders’ most traumatic deaths – and harrowing exit that had bosses in tears

EastEnders does an excellent line in misery, and so what better way to mark its 35th anniversary than with a shock death.

The identity of the character singled out to become brown bread when the party boat goes down on the Thames had remained a closely guarded secret.

But that didn't stop fans speculating about whether it would be alcoholic Linda Carter who's been seen trapped beneath deck in a kitchen.

Or Bex Fowler? After all, she is leaving the soap.

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Whatever the outcome, the tragedy was always bound to be an absolute tearjerker.

Indeed, in the BBC soap's three-decade history fans have seen some absolutely heart-wrenching deaths.

From terminal illness and suicide to tragic car accidents, Mirror Online looks back at some of the most traumatic passings and the one that left the boss in tears…

Jamie Mitchell – 2002

There wasn't a dry eye in the house when nineties heartthrob Jamie, played by Jack Ryder, was mowed down in a hit-and-run at Christmas.

He'd only just reunited with on-off fiancee Sonia Jackson (Natalie Cassidy), but before they had chance to tie the knot he was accidentally knocked over outside Walford East tube by Martin Fowler (James Alexandrou).

A heartbroken Sonia sobbed uncontrollably as Jamie's young life slipped away in hospital, before going on to marry her beloved's killer.

Pat Butcher – 2012

When actress Pam St. Clement handed her notice in after 25 years, she hadn't expected producers to kill off her earring-loving character.

But the axe came down, with Pat succumbing to pancreatic cancer on New Year's Day 2012.

Before popping off her fluorescent pink coil, Pat had an emotional reunion with son David and step-daughter Janine before slipping away surrounded by friends and family – earrings firmly in place.

In honour of her long service, EastEnders' bosses ditched the usual music for a specially-composed piece called Pat's Theme and an entire episode was dedicated to her funeral.

Peggy Mitchell – 2016

Mitchell matriarch Peggy (Barbara Windsor) died in a poignant suicide scene after learning her breast cancer had returned.

"I will go as I have lived: Straight back, head high, like a queen," she defiantly insisted, applying her makeup for one last time.

With the cancer having spread to her brain, she hallucinated a conversation with enemy-turned-best friend Pat, asking what she thought of the outfit she'd chosen to die in.

"You won't ever leave me will you?" she asks a sobbing Pat, who assures her, "No. Not for one single second."

It later emerged that EastEnders boss Dominic Treadwell-Collins "burst into tears" when Barbara asked for her character to be killed off.

He said: "She rang me and said that she wanted to go out in a blaze of glory. I did ask her to reconsider. Briefly. But you don't get Barbara to change her mind.

"I love and respect Barbara and I want to give Peggy Mitchell the exit she deserves. Because she's one of the best TV matriarchs of all time."

Wellard – 2008

EastEnders' longest serving canine popped over the rainbow bridge in a heart-wrenching episode that August.

Bianca Jackson rushed the dog to the vets after he fell ill, and was distraught when vets told her he needed to be put down.

Knowing her children would be devastated if they didn't get chance to say their goodbyes, she took Wellard home to Pat's and placed the exhausted pooch in front of the electric fire.

As the vet arrived to administer the shot, Bianca and Ricky Butcher choked back tears as the comforted their loyal companion until the end.

Ethel Skinner – 2000

After learning she had terminal cancer, Albert Square OG Ethel returned to Walford to die where she felt most at home.

Not wanting to suffer any pain, she plotted to take her own life but was too weak to do it.

After much soul-searching, her best friend Dot Cotton agreed to get the pills out of the wardrobe, breaking down as she kissed Ethel and told her, "I only want you to be happy."

In absolutely devastating scenes, the life-long friends wrapped their arms around each other for one last time before blowing the candles out on Ethel's 85th birthday cake.

Tiffany Mitchell – 1998

After years of being terrorised by brutish husband Grant Mitchell, Tiffany (Martine McCutcheon) was about to make a break for it and start a new life in Spain with their daughter Courtney.

But her plan unravelled like a Greek tragedy on New Year's Eve 1998 when she went to collect Courtney from the Queen Vic only to find Grant had been released on bail.

Determined not to let her take their child, he grabbed Courtney and stormed out of the pub with an hysterical Tiffany in his wake.

Then out of nowhere, Frank Butcher's car came hurtling around the corner and ploughed into Tiff, who died in the middle of the street with one poignant tear trickling down her cheek as she took a last look at her daughter. It was heartbreaking stuff.

Nana Moon – 2005

Alfie Moon's precious grandmother learned her time was at an end when she was diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm that December.

Knowing that she couldn't survive an operation, Alfie was determined to make her Christmas as perfect as possible and after spending one last afternoon together, she heartbreakingly told him, “there’s nothing to be scared of… I’ll always be here for you."

Then Nana fell silent and a stricken Alfie wrapped his arms around her as he pleaded, “Not yet Nana, not yet." Sadly it was too late.

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