Phil Mitchell


Phil Mitchell

Infobox EastEnders character 2


character_name=Phil Mitchell
actor_name=Steve McFadden
years=1990–2003, 2005—
first=20 February 1990
classification=Present; regular
dob=19 January 1961
introducer=Michael Ferguson (1990)
Kate Harwood (2005)
status=In a relationship
occupation=Businessman
home=The Queen Vic
mother=Peggy Mitchell
father=Eric Mitchell
wife = Nadia Borovac (1993–1994)
Kathy Beale (1995–1999)
Kate Morton (2003–2005)
brothers=Grant Mitchell
sisters=Sam Mitchell
daughters=Louise Mitchell
sons=Ben Mitchell
grandfathers=Phil Mitchell Snr.
Jack Martin
grandmothers=Sandra Mitchell
Lilly Martin
great grandfathers=Edward Mitchell
great grandmothers=Betty Mitchell
uncles=Clive Mitchell
Archie Mitchell
aunts=Sal Martin
great uncles=Kenneth Mitchell
nephews=Mark Fowler Jr.
nieces=Courtney Mitchell
cousins=Ronnie Mitchell
Roxy Slater
1st cousin once=Steven Mitchell
Ted Mitchell
Danielle Jones
2nd cousin=Billy Mitchell
Charlie Mitchell
2nd cousin once=Jamie Mitchell
Janet Mitchell
William Mitchell

Phillip James "Phil" Mitchell is a long-running fictional character in the popular BBC soap opera "EastEnders". He is played by Steve McFadden.

Mitchell first arrived in Albert Square on 20 February 1990, and was soon joined by his brother, Grant and later his sister Sam and mother Peggy. He has become one of the soap's most popular characters and is the second longest-running male protagonist to appear in the serial. He was first introduced as the lesser of two thugs, but became a darker character upon his brother's exit. More recent storylines, such as the return of his son Ben, have shown a softer side to the character.

He has at various times owned many businesses in the Square, including the Queen Vic, The Arches, Bridge Street Café, the Snooker Hall and Walford Video. He has been married three times and he has featured in numerous high profile storylines, including the much-hyped whodunnit, dubbed "Who Shot Phil?" — when the character was gunned down outside his home — and an affair with his brother's wife, dubbed "Sharongate".

Character creation

Background

In the latter part of 1989 "EastEnders" acquired a new executive producer named Michael Ferguson, who took over from Mike Gibbon. Ferguson had previously been a producer on ITV's "The Bill" — a hard-hitting, gritty and successful police drama, which seemed to be challenging "EastEnders" in providing a realistic vision of modern life in London. Due to his success on "The Bill", Peter Creegan, the Head of Series at the BBC, poached Ferguson to become executive producer of "EastEnders".cite book |last=Brake|first= Colin|authorlink= Colin Brake|title= |year=1995|publisher=BBC Books|id=ISBN 0-563-37057-2]

Following a relatively unsuccessful inclination towards comic storylines throughout 1989, Ferguson decided to take the soap in a new direction in 1990. Big changes were implemented both off-screen and on-screen. Ferguson altered the way the episodes were produced, changed the way the storylines were conceptualised and introduced a far greater amount of location work than had previously been seen. "EastEnders" scriptwriter Colin Brake has said that it was a challenging period, but "the results on-screen were a programme with a new sense of vitality, and a programme more in touch with the real world than it had been for a while".

As a consequence of these changes, a large number of characters were axed in early 1990 as the new production machine cleared way for a new direction and new characters. Two major new characters, the Mitchell brothers, made their first appearance in February 1990. Ferguson wanted to introduce a couple of young men who would bring an air of danger, characters who would be "unpredictable" and "bursting with energy". Phil and Grant Mitchell went on to become major long-term characters, who are rooted firmly at the heart of the series.

Casting

To cast Phil and Grant Mitchell many actors were screen-tested together. This was done to assure that the chosen actors — who would work predominantly alongside each other — had a strong rapport and physical resemblance. Producer Corinne Hollingworth has commented: "There were some good actors we had to turn down because we couldn't find the 'right' brother."cite book |last= Kingsley|first= Hilary|title= The EastEnders Handbook |year=1990|publisher=BBC books|id=ISBN 0685529576] Steve McFadden, an actor who had worked extensively in television, was cast in the role of Phil. His shape, skills in stage fighting and a variety of sports including boxing, football and karate made him an ideal choice to play one of Walford's latest "tough-men."
Ross Kemp was given the role of Grant. Both actors worked well and convincingly together and both shared similar physical characteristics, such as short cropped hair and a "round, open face" — facial characteristics also shared by Danniella Westbrook, who was partly chosen to play their sister Samantha because of this.

Personality

Of the two brothers Phil was initially the calmer, but both had a sense of physical danger about them, and both displayed stereotypical masculinity, thuggish behaviour and a tendency to resolve problems through violence. Phil was originally depicted as the thinker of the Mitchell double-act and also the most streetwise of the pair, often bailing his more spontaneous brother out of trouble, although later plotlines have driven the character down a darker, more destructive route. Phil can be violent, but unlike Grant he has occasionally shown restraint when dealing with the various enemies he has encountered – exacting revenge over time, using mind games or getting others to do his ‘dirty work’. [" [http://www.bbc.co.uk/eastenders/eastenders/episodes/classic_content/classic20051230.shtml Dennis v Johnny] ", "BBC". URL last accessed on 2006-12-03.]

Family is important to Phil, as it is to all the Mitchells. He is dependable to his brother, paternalistic towards his sister and dutiful to his mother — responsibilities that fell on him as the eldest, following the death of his father. Despite the brothers' closeness, rivalry between them is sometimes evident and particularly shown by Phil, who at times expresses his dissatisfaction regarding his parents' favouritism towards Grant. [" [http://www.bbc.co.uk/eastenders/eastenders/episodes/episode_content/episode20020905_p3.shtml Sharon and Phil put their pasts behind them] ", "BBC". URL last accessed on 2006-12-03.] Indeed this caused a rift between him and his mother. His relationship with his volatile father, Eric (unseen in the serial), has often been referred to by the character, usually in moments of emotion — his initial inability to bond with his child an indirect result of his father's abuse, and his treatment of women a learned response that mirrors his father's treatment of his mother. The character has often expressed fears that he will become like his father and alienate his children in a similar way. Despite being opposed to this, he is at times incapable of breaking 'the cycle', which has resulted in alcoholism, marital abuse and separation from both of his children. Phil strives to be a good father and often reiterates the importance of this.

Phil has occasionally shown sadistic traits. His bullying of Ian Beale is often done as a means of deriving pleasure. [" [http://archives.walford.net/2040.htm THU 23-NOV-00 'All or Nothing'] ", "walford.net". URL last accessed on 2006-12-03.] Equally the ceaseless degradation of his girlfriend Lisa showed a particularly malicious side to the character. While Phil has shown compassion to the women in his life, he frequently finds that he is unable to provide them with the emotional security needed to sustain the relationship. Several women have left him due to his repressed issues and his inability to put their needs above his family's.

Character development and impact

The Mitchell brothers quickly became two of the soap's most popular characters and storylines involving the brothers soon began to dominate the programme. Their arrival heralded a new era for the soap, which aptly coincided with the beginning of a new decade — "EastEnders" during the 1980s having been very much dominated by the hugely popular Watts family. [cite web | url = http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/2739361.stm | title= Phil to quit EastEnders | publisher = BBC | author = | date = 2003-02-08 | accessdate=2007-02-26]

harongate

One of the most notable and popular early storylines involving Phil was a love triangle between him, his brother and his brother's wife Sharon (played by Letitia Dean). Despite the fact that Sharon married Grant initially, "EastEnders" writer Tony Jordan has revealed in "The Mitchells - The Full Story" that the love-triangle storyline had been planned since Phil and Grant's introduction, after the writers came to the realisation that Sharon was perfect for them both. [" [http://www.bbc.co.uk/eastenders//news/news_content/news_20060306.shtml Mitchells Special] ", "BBC". URL last accessed on 2006-09-18.] This storyline was slow burning and was spread over several years, providing a plethora of dramatic tension along the way. The episode in which Phil betrays his brother with Sharon occurred in September 1992 in one of the soap's notorious three-handers. Sue Dunderdale directed the episodes and the performances of McFadden, Kemp and Dean have been described as memorable and filled with high-tension drama. Things finally came to a head in 1994 with some of "EastEnders" most popular and renowned episodes, which have been dubbed "Sharongate". [" [http://www.bbc.co.uk/eastenders/eastenders/episodes/classic_content/classic19941025.shtml Sharongate] ", "BBC". URL last accessed on 2006-09-18.] The episodes — which were watched by 25.3 million viewers" [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/tv_and_radio/4403694.stm Profiles: EastEnders Kemp and McFadden] ", "BBC". URL last accessed on 2006-09-18.] — centred around Grant's discovery of the affair and his startling reaction. The repercussions of Phil's betrayal contributed to many subsequent storylines involving the brothers throughout the 1990s. Writer of Sharongate, Tony Jordan, has stated that of all the storylines he has penned for the soap, Sharongate is the one he is most proud of. He comments "Three of the strongest characters that have ever been in "EastEnders" are the Mitchell brothers and Sharon...when we actually blew that story it was incredible...being able to reach that many people with your work is what makes "EastEnders" exciting". [" [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8s3wvSweMWU Tony Jordan interview] ", "youtube". URL last accessed on 2007-02-24.] Sharongate has also proven a popular storyline with viewers and it was voted the sixth top soap opera moment of the decade in a poll of 17,000 people for "What's On TV" magazine.

Alcoholism

Among the many issues the character of Phil has been used to cover is alcoholism and the profound consequences the condition has upon the sufferer's domestic life. The relationship between alcohol abuse and domestic violence was explored between Phil and his wife Kathy (played by Gillian Taylforth) culminating in the slow deterioration of their marriage, which gripped viewers throughout 1997. [" [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/309444.stm Phil stays in the Square] ", "BBC". URL last accessed on 2007-02-24.] Of particular note is an episode where Phil attends Alcoholics Anonymous (February 1997), an "alien and uncomfortable arena" where he was forced to talk about his condition, expose his vulnerability and reveal the basis of his problem — the physical abuse he'd received from his father and his fear that he will do the same to his own son. Writer Jacquetta May, who once played Rachel Kominski in the show, has evaluated the episode in an article about social realism, education and the moral messages within "EastEnders" storylines, commenting: "The episode blames his destructiveness on the 'male' response to self-hate: violence. It says that unless problems are worked through (the female method), they will be repeated generation after generation". [" [http://www.redpepper.org.uk/cularch/xeastend.html Square Deal] ", "redpepper.org". URL last accessed on 2007-02-24.] This particular episode has also been used in a study by the Stirling Media Research Institute, where men were asked questions about the violence contained within a spectrum of broadcast television material. The study reported that much group discussion centred on the Alcoholics Anonymous group scene, which was, for the most part, seen as an accurate depiction of an AA group therapy session. In addition, Phil's portrayal of a suffering alcoholic was also seen as realistic and a "typical portrayal of bottled-up masculinity". [" [http://www-fms.stir.ac.uk/research/mvv/mvv_ch2.html Men Viewing Violence] ", "Stirling Media Research Institute". URL last accessed on 2007-02-24.]

The Mitchell car crash

Phil's disposition altered somewhat during the early 2000s when a darker more menacing side to his personality began to surface. This change was perhaps a consequence of Grant's departure, who up until this point had always been depicted as the more selfish, thuggish and nastier of the two. The storyline signifying the departure of Ross Kemp played heavily on the Mitchell brothers' fragile and damaged relationship. After discovering that Grant had vengefully slept with Kathy, Phil went ballistic with a handgun causing the hijacked Vauxhall Astra they were driving to career at high speed into the River Thames, in an episode that was watched by 19.5 million viewers. [" [http://www.bbc.co.uk/eastenders/eastenders/episodes/classic_content/classic19991014.shtml The Mitchell car crash] ", "BBC". URL last accessed on 2007-02-24.] Shot in London's Docklands, the scenes required stunt doubles, divers and crash test dummies and it has been hailed as "one of the soap's most dramatic storylines ever". [" [http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4161/is_19990718/ai_n14494048 Is this the Ender Grant Mitchell?] ", "Sunday Mirror". URL last accessed on 2007-02-24.]

Who Shot Phil?

Phil's behaviour earned him a number of sworn enemies in Albert Square and by 2001 the character had become one of the soap's nastiest villains. [" [http://pubs.socialistreviewindex.org.uk/sr252/art.htm Dark tragedy comes to Walford] ", "Arts Review". URL last accessed on 2007-02-24.] In an interview with The Guardian McFadden commented on his alter ego's descent into villainy "Phil's been had over by a lot of people, so now he feels like he can do it back. It's his history". [" [http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4230010,00.html EastEnd boy] ", "The Guardian". URL last accessed on 2007-02-24.] However the character finally received his comeuppance in one of "EastEnders" most highly anticipated storylines, dubbed "Who Shot Phil?". Phil was gunned down outside his home in March 2001 in a "Dallas"-style" whodunnit mystery. Various key characters were in the frame for the deed and viewers were left guessing for weeks as to which of them was the real culprit. Several outcomes were allegedly filmed [" [http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4161/is_20010218/ai_n14523699 Stagehand fires fateful shot to keep EastEnders in dark] ", "Sunday Mirror". URL last accessed on 2007-03-02.] and it was reported that only a few TV executives knew the identity of the would-be assassin — even the actors were kept in the dark." [http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4153/is_20010316/ai_n11955958 Script thieves may want to know who shot Phil Mitchell] ", "Evening Standard". URL last accessed on 2007-02-24.] A spokesman commented "The cast are only getting their own scripts. They are not being told anyone else's storylines. Not even Phil knows who shot him. It's top secret." Script writers were reportedly given private security after a writer's laptop was stolen in what was believed to be an attempt to gain the identity of the assailant. The storyline captivated the public's imagination leading to thousands of bets being placed at the bookies across the UK — bookmaker William Hill said there was about 50,000 bets on who was responsible. An estimated 22 million viewers watched "EastEnders" on April 5 2001 to find out that Lisa Shaw — Phil's former girlfriend — was the culprit. [" [http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4153/is_20010406/ai_n11963064 22M TUNE IN TO SEE PHIL CONFRONT EAST ENDERS LISA] ", "Evening Standard". URL last accessed on 2007-03-02.] The episode caused the third-largest power surge on record [" [http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_20010406/ai_n14379658 Power surge for 'EastEnders'] ", "The Independent". URL last accessed on 2007-03-02.] and the Liverpool and Barcelona UEFA Cup semi-final was postponed for 15 minutes to accommodate a special 40 minute edition of the soap. [" [http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4153/is_20010404/ai_n11962713 EastEnders to delay Europe's vital kick-off] ", "Evening Standard". URL last accessed on 2007-03-02.]

Other storylines

The character continues to be featured heavily in high-profile storylines which have included various feuds, police enquiries, armed robbery, kidnapping, numerous affairs and relationship problems and an ongoing plot concentrating on the character's struggles to bond with his children. 2005 saw the highly anticipated screen return of both the Mitchell brothers — six years since they last appeared together. 13 million viewers tuned in to see their return giving the BBC a 52.9% audience share, a massive coup for the show which had come under heavy criticism in the British media after it drew its lowest audience in more than five years (6.6 million viewers tuning in to one episode in September 2005). [" [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/tv_and_radio/4371112.stm Mitchell brothers back in Square] ", "BBC". URL last accessed on 2007-03-02.]

torylines

Backstory

Phil, named after his paternal grandfather who died in 1969, is the eldest child of Peggy and Eric Mitchell. He endured an unhappy childhood due to his abusive father, whose violence continued until Phil was big enough to fight back. Phil and his younger brother Grant were close, and had a reputation for their thuggish behaviour.

1990-1999

The Mitchell brothers arrived in Walford in February 1990, buying the garage on Turpin Way with money Phil had won gambling. They got involved in various dodgy scams, but more often than not, their money making schemes backfired. In 1991, Phil went into partnership at The Queen Vic with Grant and his fiancé, Sharon Watts. Phil moved in with them, but was frequently caught in the middle of their tempestuous relationship. Following a failed romance with Anne Howes—who turned out to be a habitual liar—Phil grew close to Sharon, who turned to him for comfort during Grant's violent outbursts in 1992. Sharon and Phil slept together, but she chose to stay with Grant, who remained unaware of the betrayal. Sharon and Grant's reconciliation was brief, and amidst more rowing and physical violence, Grant was arrested and sent to prison. In his absence Phil and Sharon continued their affair, although they were both tormented by feelings of guilt, and neither were prepared to tell Grant the truth. When Grant came out of prison a reformed man, Sharon—realising that she and Phil would never be a legitimate couple—reconciled with him, and Phil watched on heartbroken as they began to patch up their marriage.cite book |last= Smith|first= Rupert|title= |year=2005|publisher=BBC books|id=ISBN 0-563-52165-1] On the rebound, Phil entered into a marriage of convenience with Nadia Borovac, a Romanian refugee, enabling her to stay legally in the UK. They married in July 1993 and Nadia departed. In the Autumn of 1993, Phil began a romance with Kathy Beale, but their relationship stalled due to the reappearance of Nadia, who needed Phil to play her husband in more realistic ways to prevent deportation. She moved in with him while the home office undertook their investigation. Feeling jealous, Nadia seduced and slept with a drunken Phil at Christmas. Phil regretted it, but Nadia refused to give up and she informed Kathy about their tryst. Phil denied it and Nadia then disappeared after Grant threatened to kill her, though Phil was later forced to bribe her into agreeing to a divorce. [" [http://archives.walford.net/0932.htm "EastEnders" TUE 04-JAN-94 episode description] ", "Walford.net". URL last accessed on 2006-12-03.]

When Kathy discovered that Phil was responsible for torching Frank Butcher's car lot in an insurance scam, killing a homeless boy, in 1994, she left him. He managed to win her back by proposing marriage, which left Sharon jealous. Sharon was intent on winning him back, they kissed, before Phil stopped himself. During Phil and Kathy's engagement party, Grant listened to a cassette of Sharon confessing to the affair and more recent kiss; he played it to the entire party. Kathy was incensed, and Grant beat Phil so badly that he was hospitalised with a ruptured spleen and a blood clot to the brain. Phil underwent surgery, which stirred remorse in Grant. He pressured Phil into blaming Sharon for their affair and Grant chased her out of Walford. Phil and Grant made peace, although things between them were never the same again. Kathy and Phil sorted out their differences in 1995, and married.Kathy fell pregnant and gave birth to a boy, Ben, in 1996, who she doted on. Phil felt neglected and in his depression he turned to alcohol, developing an addiction. Phil became abusive and neglectful of Ben, so Kathy left him. Realising what he'd lost, Phil gave up drinking to rebuild his marriage. He attended Alcoholics Anonymous, which helped reveal the basis of his problem — the physical abuse he'd received from his father and his fear that he will do the same to Ben. Kathy took him back, but their reunion was short-lived. When Phil attended counselling in the summer he began an affair with a fellow alcoholic named Lorna Cartwright, who later started stalking him. With their relationship in jeopardy, Phil took Kathy to Paris, hoping that it would bring them closer, but it had the opposite effect—Phil confessed to his affair with Lorna and Kathy responded by chucking her wedding ring into the Seine.

Phil began sleeping rough, gambling, and blaming Kathy for his decline. By April 1998 Kathy had decided to leave Walford to live in South Africa. A marriage proposal from Alex Healy and an impromptu offer of elopement from Grant couldn't dissuade her from leaving; however she let it be known that an offer of reconciliation from Phil would make her reconsider. Phil left it to the last minute to win her back, but he was stalled by Lorna, who locked herself in his bathroom and attempted to commit suicide. Thinking Phil no longer wanted her, Kathy left for the airport. Phil followed, but was accosted by her son Ian Beale, who persuaded him that Kathy was better off without him. Kathy departed leaving Phil agonising over the loss of his son.

Phil took his mind off things by getting involved in a protection racket with Annie Palmer, who he was also having casual sex with. Phil thought he could soften Annie, but she was too business-oriented to allow this. Phil grew tired of being bossed around by her and quit in the midst of a turf war with a rival firm. [" [http://archives.walford.net/1625.htm "EastEnders" TUE 02-JUN-98 episode description] ", "Walford.net". URL last accessed on 2006-12-03.] He then began seeing Lisa Shaw, but the relationship stalled due to Kathy, who returned briefly in September 1999. Instead of making up with Phil, she picked up where she left off with Grant and they slept together. Just before she was due to return to South Africa, Kathy asked Phil to leave with her. However, Grant had planned an armed robbery that same day and Phil would not let his brother do the job alone. Kathy became infuriated with Phil's loyalty to Grant, so she decided to reveal their recent tryst. This led to a showdown between the Mitchell brothers. Phil confronted Grant after the heist and Grant confessed that he slept with Kathy to get revenge on Phil for sleeping with Sharon. While trying to escape the police in a getaway car, Phil pulled out a handgun and began shooting at the dashboard, which caused Grant to crash into the River Thames. Phil was rescued, but Grant's body was not recovered, though he survived, and fled to Brazil.

Phil took against Peggy, a result of Phil's dissatisfaction regarding her favouritism towards Grant. When Grant sent Phil his half of the Vic, he sold it to Dan Sullivan for £5, just to spite Peggy.

2000-

Phil and Dan's allegiance ended after Dan informed the police about a motor scam Phil was involved in. Phil conned Dan into relinquishing control of The Vic back to Peggy. Phil was unsupportive when Lisa suffered a miscarriage in 2000, and she became unstable. Phil turned his attention to her best friend Melanie Healy, who was vulnerable after rowing with her fiancé, Steve Owen—a result of Phil's meddling. Phil and Mel slept together after an alcohol-fuelled conversation on Christmas Day 2000. [" [http://www.bbc.co.uk/eastenders/eastenders/episodes/episode_content/episode20001225_p6.shtml "EastEnders" 25 Dec 2000 episode description pg.4] ", "BBC". URL last accessed on 2006-12-03.Phil grew jealous when Mel reuinted with Steve and became abusive to Lisa. Thinking a baby would improve things, Lisa stopped taking the pill.] [" [http://www.bbc.co.uk/eastenders/eastenders/episodes/episode_content/episode20010111_p4.shtml "EastEnders" 11 Jan 2001 episode description] ", "BBC". URL last accessed on 2006-12-03.] However, Mel overheard Phil stating he did not want another baby; she enouraged Lisa to finish with Phil, confessing to their affair. [" [http://www.bbc.co.uk/eastenders/eastenders/episodes/episode_content/episode20010208_p4.shtml "EastEnders" 08 Feb 2001 episode description] ", "BBC". URL last accessed on 2006-12-03.] Lisa left Phil, although, unbeknown to him, she was pregnant with his baby. Mark Fowler persuaded her to pretend the baby was his.

By 2001, Phil had many enemies: Lisa; Steve, who found out that Mel had slept with Phil; Ian, who wanted revenge for Phil's continual bullying; Mark, who wanted to avenge Lisa, and Dan Sullivan, who returned and wanted payback. On Steve and Mel's wedding night in March, someone hid in the bushes and shot Phil in the back; he collapsed in a pool of blood. Phil was hospitalised. Steve was prime suspect for the shooting and was arrested. However, it wasn't Steve, and after being discharged from hospital a month later, Phil went to confront the culprit, Lisa. Lisa had stolen Steve's gun and went on a rampage in a moment of madness. Realising he had driven Lisa to it, Phil decided to let her off. He took the gun she'd been hiding and framed Dan for the deed. Phil approached a dodgy contact, Ritchie Stringer, who supplied Dan with the gun. Not realising he was being set-up, Dan held Phil at gunpoint, demanding money. However, the police had been tipped off. Dan was caught red-handed and charged with attempted murder. Steve was called as a witness at Dan's trial, and Phil persuaded him to give a false testimony, further implicating Dan, but to everyone's astonishment he was found "not guilty". Dan sought revenge. He kidnapped Mel — the only common link between his adversaries, Phil and Steve. He threatened to kill her unless they gave him £100,000 each. Phil and Steve had to work together to retrieve her. Phil went to Dan's hideout with the ransom and would've killed Dan if it wasn't for Mel's interference. Dan outmanoeuvred Phil and escaped with the money.

Phil began a second relationship with Sharon Watts, who returned in May 2001. They ran the Vic together, although Phil was regularly caught between Sharon and Peggy's squabbles. Phil wanted children, but Sharon revealed she was infertile and that Lisa's baby, Louise, was really his daughter and not Mark's, which ended their relationship. Phil confronted Lisa about Louise, demanding to be part of his child's life, much to her dismay. [" [http://www.bbc.co.uk/eastenders/eastenders/episodes/episode_content/episode20011224.shtml "EastEnders" 24 Dec 2001 episode description] ", "BBC". URL last accessed on 2006-12-03.] Steve got involved in Lisa's plight in 2002, offering to take her family to California, but when Lisa was unable to leave, Steve absconded with Louise. Phil was informed and a car chase ensued. Steve crashed into a wall and Phil rescued Louise but could not save Steve, who burnt to death. Phil knew that to get custody of Louise, he had to win Lisa back. Lisa was easily swayed and began an affair with Phil, who slowly began to exclude her from Louise's life. In desperation, Lisa fled to Portugal with Louise. Phil's nephew Jamie helped her escape, earning him a beating from Phil, which only stopped when Jamie's girlfriend, Sonia, admitted where Lisa was. Phil went to Portugal and arrived back a month later with Louise, but not Lisa. Some residents suspected that Phil had murdered Lisa.

Phil fell for manicurist Kate Morton in 2003, but she was really an undercover police officer, investigating Lisa's disappearance. After gaining a confession from Phil (he manipulated Lisa into handing over their daughter), Kate revealed her true identity, that she loved him, and would give up her job. Phil responded by threatening to slit her throat. Kate then disappeared, but Phil ran into her several months later while she was working undercover for gangster Jack Dalton. Phil ended up saving her life after Jack ordered her dead. Jack called off the hit, but told Phil he owed him for it. Phil and Kate reconciled and she moved in with him. Jack decided to call in his favour soon after and ordered Phil to kill Dennis Rickman. Phil cornered Dennis at gunpoint, but Dennis offered to kill Jack instead, which he did.Phil and Kate married in September 2003, but at their wedding Lisa made a surprise return. She demanded access to Louise and planned to shoot Phil again, but failed and was outmanoeuvered by him. Lisa broke down until Den Watts vowed to get revenge on Phil for her. Den loathed Phil after discovering that he'd slapped his daughter, Sharon, and animosity worsened after Phil attempted to frame him by planting drugs in his club. Den planned a robbery and coaxed Phil into joining him, but Den set Phil up and he was arrested for armed robbery. Kate was forced to hand Louise over to Lisa, who left Walford with her. Phil couldn't forgive Kate for giving away his daughter and their marriage ended. Phil escaped from jail and attacked Den on Christmas Day. Den gave Phil money to survive while on the run.

In April 2005, Phil returned in need of money. In desperation, he attacked Ian Beale, who led him to believe he would help him escape, but then called the police. Phil was arrested. [" [http://www.bbc.co.uk/eastenders/eastenders/episodes/episode_content/episode20050419.shtml "EastEnders" Tue 19 Apr 2005 episode description] ", "BBC". URL last accessed on 2006-12-03.] In October 2005, Phil returned, the armed robbery case had fallen through after Grant paid a witness to change his testimony. Phil and Grant set about trying to prove the innocence of their sister, Sam, who'd been accused of murdering Den by his real killer Chrissie. The brothers still felt resentment towards each other, but working together towards a common goal enabled them to move on. Chrissie was eventually apprehended and the murder charge against Sam was dropped. [" [http://www.bbc.co.uk/eastenders/eastenders/episodes/yearmonth/list_episode_200510_p2.shtml "EastEnders" October 2005 episode descriptions] ", "BBC". URL last accessed on 2006-12-03.]

Phil had one other clear enemy remaining in Walford, Johnny Allen, who had made threats to harm his family. He attempted to get at him via his 17-year-old daughter Ruby in December 2005, by paying 27-year-old Juley Smith to begin a relationship with her, sleep with her and then break her heart. [" [http://www.bbc.co.uk/eastenders/eastenders/episodes/episode_content/episode20060106_p4.shtml "EastEnders" Fri 06 Jan 2006 episode description] ", "BBC". URL last accessed on 2006-12-03.] On New Year's Eve 2005, Dennis Rickman got involved in Phil and Johnny's feud. He was ready to leave Walford with his wife Sharon, not realising that Sharon had been threatened by Johnny and that he would be killed if he did not. Phil used the situation to exert revenge on Johnny by informing Dennis. Dennis gave Johnny a beating and Johnny contacted Danny Moon to murder Dennis. Dennis was stabbed and died. Phil felt responsible for Dennis's death, which worsened when he discovered Sharon was pregnant. He vowed to make Johnny pay for the murder. [" [http://www.bbc.co.uk/eastenders/eastenders/episodes/episode_content/episode20060113_p4.shtml "EastEnders" Fri 13 Jan 2006 episode description] ", "BBC". URL last accessed on 2006-12-03.] Phil and Grant confronted Johnny in March 2006, attempting to gain a confession for Dennis's murder. Johnny escaped and a car chase ensued. However, the brothers' squabbling allowed Johnny to get the upper hand and they were captured. Johnny ordered Danny Moon to kill them. He was just about to kill Grant when Danny's brother Jake turned up and shot Danny, killing him. Johnny surrendered. [" [http://www.bbc.co.uk/eastenders/eastenders/episodes/episode_content/episode20060331.shtml "EastEnders" Fri 31 Mar 2006 episode description] ", "BBC". URL last accessed on 2006-12-03.]

Following Kathy's death in 2006, Phil's son Ben returned to live with his half brother Ian. Despite Ian's attempts to keep them apart, Phil tried to build a relationship with Ben. Ben was initially unwilling, but they slowly began to bond. Phil met lawyer Stella Crawford and they entered into a relationship. In December 2006, she moved in with the Mitchells, although this caused problems with Ben as he was unwilling to accept her. Ben played various tricks to get rid of Stella and she and Phil split and reunited several times because of him. [" [http://www.bbc.co.uk/eastenders/eastenders/episodes/episode_content/episode20061116_p2.shtml "EastEnders" Thu 16 Nov 2006 episode description] ", "BBC". URL last accessed on 2006-12-03.] Stella began using underhand tactics to make Ben more obedient and she and Ben became rivals for Phil's affections. [" [http://www.bbc.co.uk/eastenders/eastenders/episodes/episode_content/episode20070223_p2.shtml "EastEnders" Fri 23 Feb 2007 episode description] ", "BBC". URL last accessed on 2006-12-03.] Unbeknown to Phil, she began to psychologically and physically abuse Ben, doing such things as burning his hand, watching him get attacked by bullies, and breaking his hearing aid. Stella manipulated Ben into persuading Phil to propose to her. Phil begrudgingly proposed to provide Ben with a stable family unit. Ben revealed the exent of his abuse during Phil and Stella's wedding ceremony. Stella fled to an abandoned warehouse with Phil in pursuit. They ended up on a rooftop and Stella plummeted to her death. The police accused Phil of pushing Stella, but it was revealed by CCTV footage that she jumped. The aftermath saw Phil turn to alcohol once again for a period.

Phil became embroiled in a feud with Jack Branning in 2007. Jack used his police contacts to trace Louise for Phil, but Phil was incensed to discover that she called another man "daddy" and that Jack did not warn him. Jack tried to blackmail Phil regarding his involvement in a motor scam with Kevin Wicks, which inadvertently killed Kevin. Phil teamed up with Jack's brother Max Branning in 2008, to remove Jack from Walford.

Reception

Popularity

The character of Phil is arguably one of the soap's most popular, particularly with female viewers, making him one of the soap's unlikeliest sex symbols. [" [http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_19950603/ai_n13986163 To baldly go where no mane's grown before] ", "The Independent". URL last accessed on 2007-03-02.] [" [http://www.everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=1481944 Steve McFadden] ", "Everything.com". URL last accessed on 2007-03-02.] He has featured in some of the show's most memorable and highly viewed storylines and he is the second longest running male character to appear in the soap, surpassed only by Ian Beale. Phil along with Grant was voted as the second most popular "King Of Soaps" in a Channel 4 poll in 2002. [" [http://www.thecustard.tv/linksandlists/tvpolls.html#soap Kings Of Soap] ", "Custard.tv". URL last accessed on 2007-03-02.]

During a period of heavy media criticism aimed at "EastEnders" throughout 2004 and 2005, the character — who was on a hiatus from the show — was reintroduced twice in what was branded by the press as a bid to "boost flagging "Enders" [" [http://www.mirror.co.uk/catchall/tm_method=full%26objectid=15182280%26siteid=89520-name_page.html Phil Back to Boost Flagging Enders] ", "Daily Mirror". URL last accessed on 2007-03-02.] and "revive the soap's ailing ratings". [" [http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/showbiz/showbiznews.html?in_article_id=367100&in_page_id=1773 EastEnder Grant extends his return for three more months] ", "Daily Mail". URL last accessed on 2007-03-02.] His first return in April 2005 was generally well received with media comments such as "the excellent, bug-eyed Steve McFadden proves nobody does psychotic thug better than him" and "McFadden's blistering performance on Tuesday defies that old cliché of a soap being bigger than its stars". [" [http://www.mirror.co.uk/catchall/tm_method=full%26objectid=15407782%26siteid=89520-name_page.html PHILLED IN!] ", "Daily Mirror". URL last accessed on 2007-03-02.] Of the Mitchell brothers highly publicised return in October 2005, one reporter commented "Soapville must confess that we did get goosebumps and feel properly excited when we first saw the Mitchell Brothers back on the Square...After all, you associate them with the golden days of "Enders"." [http://www.mirror.co.uk/showbiz/tv/tvland/tm_method=full%26objectid=16303455%26siteid=89520-name_page.html SOAPVILLE] ", "Daily Mirror". URL last accessed on 2007-03-02.]

In addition the character has been praised for being good value, realistic, consistent within his character and convincing. [" [http://www.aerialtelly.co.uk/mitchell-brothers.php The Mitchell Brothers' Return] ", "Aerial telly". URL last accessed on 2007-03-02.] [" [http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_20000319/ai_n14283321 expert witness: EastEnders] ", "The Independent". URL last accessed on 2007-03-02.]

Criticism

Although popular with many, the character has also garnered much criticism over the years.

In November 2005 the character was blamed for turning children into playground bullies by Dr. Sally Henry, who claimed that impressionable children look to male soap characters as role models and subsequently copy their violent behaviour. [" [http://www.mirror.co.uk/catchall/tm_method=full%26objectid=16397942%26siteid=89520-name_page.html TV YOBS 'ARE ROLE MODELS TO BULLIES'] ", "Daily Mirror". URL last accessed on 2007-03-02.] Indeed the character's violent behaviour evoked concern from viewers in October 2002. A scene in which Phil beat his godson Jamie, was criticised for being too realistic by TV watchdogs. The Broadcasting Standards Commission upheld 31 complaints from viewers, saying that the scenes were too strong for a programme shown before the 9pm watershed. [" [http://news.bbc.co.uk/cbbcnews/hi/tv_film/newsid_2712000/2712447.stm EastEnders told off for Phil and Jamie scrap] ", "CBBC Newsround". URL last accessed on 2007-03-02.]

A certain level of criticism was aimed at the character due to the stark personality change he underwent circa 2000. [" [http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4153/is_20010302/ai_n11961119 Your guide to the real mystery of EastEnders] ", "Evening Standard". URL last accessed on 2007-03-02.] One reporter commented "Formerly the milder-mannered sibling, Phil has gone from Abel to Cain without an intervening period of plausibility. And it doesn't suit him". [" [http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4153/is_20010307/ai_n11961594 I shot Phil now bring back the real EastEnders] ", "Evening Standard". URL last accessed on 2007-03-02.] His violent tendencies have also been spoofed by the television series "2DTV".

There were mixed reviews for the highly publicised storyline (dubbed Get Johnny Week) involving the Mitchell brothers reunion in 2006. It was criticised as "patchy" and "awkwardly written...unveiling a common weakness in the EastEnders camp, that character continuity can often fall by the wayside when you are dealing with larger characters". [" [http://www.020magazine.com/webs/02005/showArticle.cfm?id=441 Return of The Mitchell Brothers...] ", "020magazine.com". URL last accessed on 2007-03-02.] Additionally, the show was criticised for turning the brothers into a comical farce by incorporating uncharacteristic humour into their dialect, which was described as "cringeworthy".

A proportion of viewers possibly feel the criticism is justifiable as the character came second in a Channel 4 poll of "The Five TV Characters We Most Love To Hate" in 2001 — beaten only by Mr. Blobby. [" [http://www.thecustard.tv/linksandlists/100characters.html#hate THE 100 GREATEST TELEVISION CHARACTERS] ", "Custard.tv". URL last accessed on 2007-03-02.]

References

External links

*EEcharlink|phil_m


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