Whodunit! 5 soap murders that had us on the edge of our seats

Copyright: BBC How did Lucy meet her maker?
Copyright: BBC
How did Lucy meet her maker?

And so another cheerful Easter episode of EastEnders has come to pass. Having successfully failed to kill David Wicks off at Christmas (well, Janine did try), we have our third murder in six months to hit Albert Square as Lucy Beale’s body is left on Walford Common. I, for one am very much looking forward to next week’s episodes of EastEnders – this looks like it could be an absolutely superb storyline. However it’s not going to be without competition with ‘whodunit’ storylines due to hit Hollyoaks and Coronation Street as well within the next month or so – though I won’t say who in case you don’t want to be spoiled on these (already highly promoted in the press) storylines. Therefore in not spoiling current storylines lets take a look at some of the whodunnits that have gripped us in soaps over the years….

1. Who shot J.R.?

Widely regarded as the first iconic whodunit storyline this was an end of season cliffhanger for Dallas first broadcast on March 21st 1980. Commented on by both Regan and Carter in the 1980 Presidential race in America, the cliffhanger gripped America and Larry Hagman used the generated publicity to negotiate a substantial pay rise as JR Ewing given the character was going to survive. They had to wait eight months to find out the answer. On November 21st 1980 it was revealed that it was Kristin Shepard (played by Mary Crosby) that had pulled the trigger. The storyline was parodied by ‘The Simpsons’ in 1995 when the sixth season finished with ‘Who shot Mr. Burns?’.

2. Who shot Phil?

Not only did ‘The Simpsons’ parody the Dallas storyline but EastEnders provided its own version of this storyline in 2001. Having made himself unpopular with many members of Albert Square including Dan Sullivan, Ian Beale, Steve Owen, Mark Fowler and Lisa Shaw. The storyline kicked off on Mel & Steve’s wedding day with Phil answering the door only to find no one there. As he turns to go back inside, a gunshot rings out and he is left for dead. Found by Beppe di Marco and eventually recovering the UK public were then left guessing who pulled the trigger. April 22nd was the date everyone found out that Lisa Shaw pulled the trigger, though having obtained the gun from Lisa, Phil took the opportunity to frame sworn enemy Dan Sullivan instead. Such was the speculation over the storyline it was also the subject of a rather amusing Comic Relief skit starring the late Mel Smith….

3. Who killed Archie?

Another EastEnders storyline this was purely designed to give the show a boost for its 25th anniversary celebrations. It was Christmas Day 2009 when hated Mitchell patriarch Archie Mitchell was killed with the Queen Vic bust. He wasn’t short of enemies having evicted his family from the pub the day before, and there were ten suspects. Unfortunately the planned killer, Peggy Mitchell (Barbara Windsor) had decided to leave the show later in 2010 so another killer was chosen, providing perhaps a less satisfying conclusion when Stacey Branning was finally unmasked as the murderess. However the suspense was ranked up high as the killer was revealed in a special live episode meaning the actor was only told thirty minutes before the show was broadcast – you don’t get much more secretive than that… This also means we’ve got some alternate endings that were filmed but never broadcast in the back up rehearsals you can see what could have been!

4. Who killed Eddie Royale?

This makes it seem like a lot of the whodunit storylines come out of Albert Square – though to be honest it would appear they mostly do! This storyline harks back to 1991 and was before the days UK soaps tended to do the big whodunnits. Not promoted as such I’ve included this as its the first one I really remember from watching EastEnders when I was younger. The main suspect in the case was Clyde Tavernier and a witness had seen him running away from the scene. However the real culprit was someone who was supposedly locked away, quite literally, in his room at the time – Nick Cotton.

5. Who pushed Paul Robinson?

I can’t leave out the Australian soaps. It was Neighbours’ 6000th episode and Paul Robinson (Stefan Dennis) had made many enemies. Looking out across the mezzazine of Lassiter’s hotel, Paul turned around and had a confrontation with a mystery person resulting in him being pushed off and onto the ground below. Mark Brennan (Scott McGregor) then had to solve the mystery – and it was the departing character of Rebecca Robinson (Paul’s wife, played by Jane Hall) that threw him off the balcony. You’d think this would mean she would end up in prison repenting for her crime – but no. Thanks to blackmail, trickery and general far fetched ‘it could only happen in a soap’ type twists, Rebecca got a divorce from Paul and sailed off into the sunset with son Declan and granddaughter India a few months later.

There are many, many more of these type of storylines that have graced soaps and dramas over the years. ITV’s Broadchurch is a notable example from 2013, and maybe this is the main factor in why there are so many storylines of this style gracing UK soaps this year. One thing is for certain it is thanks to Broadchurch it looks like the 2014 whodunits are going to be a drawn out affair… for those thinking we will find out who or what killed Lucy Beale within the next week or so you’re in for a disappointment. This storyline is running right up to EastEnders’ 30th anniverary – and that’s 9 months away….