Ricky Butcher

Ricky Butcher

Infobox EastEnders character 2

character_name=Ricky Butcher
actor_name=Sid Owen
introducer=Tony Holland (1988)
Louise Berridge (2002)
Diederick Santer (2008)
years=1988–2000, 2002–2004, 2008—
first=12 May 1988
classification=Present; regular
dob=21 February 1973
occupation=Taxi driver
father = Frank Butcher
mother = June Butcher
sisters=Clare Butcher
Diane Butcher
Janine Evans
halfbrothers=Danny Butcher
wife= Sam Mitchell (1991–1993)
Bianca Jackson (1997–2000)
daughters= Natasha Butcher
sons=Liam Butcher
grandfathers=Chike Butcher
grandmothers=Mo Butcher
nephews=Jacques Butcher
aunts= Joan Garwood
home = 31 Albert Square

Richard Francis "Ricky" Butcher [cite episode|title=EastEnders|network=BBC|station=BBC One|airdate=1992-07-07] is a fictional character in the BBC soap opera "EastEnders". He is played by Sid Owen.

Character creation and development


"EastEnders" had been on air for three years before the character of Ricky made his first screen appearance in May 1988. At the time, big changes were occurring "behind-the-scenes".cite book |last=Brake|first= Colin|authorlink= Colin Brake|title= |year=1995|publisher=BBC Books|id=ISBN 0-563-37057-2] Co-creator Julia Smith took "a more back-seat role" as Series Producer, which allowed producer Mike Gibbon to take control of the making of the programme.

The arrival of the Butcher family in May 1988 signified an end of an era for the soap, as Den and Angie Watts vacated their positions as landlord and landlady of The Queen Victoria public house, leaving the head of the Butcher family, Frank (Mike Reid), and his girlfriend Pat Wicks (Pam St. Clement) to take over tenancy. Along with Frank came his two teenage children, Ricky (Sid Owen) and Diane (Sophie Lawrence). Later they were joined by Frank's mother Mo (Edna Doré), and Frank's youngest daughter Janine (Rebecca Michael). Owen was 16 when he first appeared as Ricky in "EastEnders".cite news|url= http://www.wgazette.com/int-ricky.html|title=GETTING SHTICKY WITH "THICKY RICKY"|publisher="Walford Gazette" |accessdate=2007-08-07]


Ricky's relationship with Bianca Jackson (Patsy Palmer) has been central to his narrative; their affiliation began in 1994. Palmer and Owen already knew each other before working together on the soap, as both attended the Anna Scher theatre school. Owen has said, "We practically grew up together. We'd known each other for years. It was sic|wierd when she started on the show and we began playing the 'Ricky & Bianca Get To Know Each Other' bit. I had already spent a lot of time with Patsy. I think we were both seven when we met."

The dynamics of their relationship were clear from the start, with Bianca portrayed as the dominant, bossy and authoritative partner, while Ricky was shown as the hen-pecked, [cite news|url= http://uk.reuters.com/article/entertainmentNews/idUKL3041280320071030|title=Ricky to rejoin Bianca in EastEnders|publisher="Reuters" |accessdate=2007-08-07] dim-witted "loser" or "soft touch", comically under the thumb of his female counterpart.cite book |last= Smith|first= Rupert|title= |year=2005|publisher=BBC books|id=ISBN 0-563-52165-1] James Rampton from "The Independent" has commented, "to her eternally put-upon husband, Ricky, Bianca was a ferocious reincarnation of H Rider Haggard's 'She Who Must Be Obeyed'."cite news|url= http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/is-there-life-after-eastenders-714253.html|title= Is there life after EastEnders?|publisher="The Independent" | date = 2000-06-15| accessdate=2008-03-16] Bianca was notorious for shouting the catchphrase "Rickaaaaaaay!" (a cockney pronunciation of Ricky) at her lover. [cite news|url= http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/soaps/a91031/palmer-admits-shes-tired-of-ricky-cry.html|title=Palmer admits she's tired of Ricky cry|publisher="The Mirror" |accessdate=2007-08-07] It has been suggested that Bianca's catchphrase — "Rickaaaaaaay!" — transitioned, becoming "shorthand for any sort of heinous henpecking." One of the first notable storylines featuring the couple occurred in 1995, when Ricky embarked on an affair with Bianca's "put-upon sidekick", Natalie Price (Lucy Speed).cite news|url= http://www.wgazette.com/spr03-lucyspeed.html |title= The Return of 'Natalie' |publisher="Walford Gazette"| author = Tim Wilson |accessdate=2007-08-07] On-screen Natalie and Ricky found themselves sidelined and bullied by Bianca, forcing them together and leading to their eventual affair, which continued for several weeks on-screen, with Ricky seeing both Natalie and Bianca. The storyline reached its climax on 21 February 1995; 17.0 million viewers tuned in to witness Bianca discovering that her boyfriend was sleeping with her best friend.cite news|url= http://web.archive.org/web/20060928233024/http://www.bbc.co.uk/eastenders/eastenders/episodes/classic_content/classic19950221.shtml|title=Ricky's affair with Natalie|publisher="BBC" |accessdate=2007-08-07] The characters were shown to reconcile later in the year when Ricky supported Bianca through a personal crisis — the revelation that she had unknowingly tried to seduce her estranged father David Wicks (Michael French).

Various crises between the characters were featured over the following years, causing them to break up and reconcile numerous times. In the book "Seeing Things: Television in the Age of Uncertainty", author John Ellis uses the couple's combustible relationship as an example of emotional intensity and pathos: "A couple like Ricky and Bianca...can have constantly sniped at each other for several episodes, for no apparent dramatic purpose except that it is the nature of their relationship. Then they will suddenly be confronted by a life-changing decision...There is suddenly a shift in emotional intensity for the audience. Every word now counts, and all the previous audience attitudes of irritation or even condescension to this 'not very bright couple'...become a feeling of utter absorption in their dilemma." [cite book |author= John Ellis|title= [http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=hX_ztCVi5fkC&pg=PA83&dq=eastenders+bianca&sig=-X-yoc3uyHLM6zbST3_kT3YWjU0 Seeing Things: Television in the Age of Uncertainty] |year=2000|publisher=I B Tauris & Co Ltd|id=ISBN 9781860644894] The BBC has reported that Bianca and Ricky's on-off romance "captivated millions of fans", and in April 1997 22 million viewers tuned in to see them marry on-screen, one of the biggest soap audiences ever.cite news|url= http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/219572.stm|title=Entertainment Patsy Palmer to leave EastEnders |publisher="BBC" | date = 1998-11-22|accessdate=2008-03-17] In 2000, Owen stated that the storyline he most enjoyed in "EastEnders" was the build up and marriage to Bianca, because "the public's enthusiasm for the event was a great motivation". [cite news|url= http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/low/entertainment/800533.stm|title=What Ricky done next|publisher="BBC" | date = 2000-06-23|accessdate=2008-03-17] The "Daily Mail" branded Ricky and Bianca "EastEnders"' most popular couple", [cite news|url= http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/showbiz/showbiznews.html?in_article_id=512908&in_page_id=1773|title=Together again: Ricky and Bianca return to EastEnders|publisher="Daily Mail" | date = 2008-02-08|accessdate=2008-03-17] and they have also been described as "iconic".cite news|url= http://www.thenewpink.co.uk/2008/03/19/bianca-and-ricky-return-to-eastenders/|title=Bianca and Ricky return to Eastenders|publisher="Pink News" |accessdate=2008-03-17]


Early years

Ricky arrived in Albert Square when his father Frank Butcher became landlord of the Queen Vic in 1988. Frank's stint in the pub was brief and it wasn't long before Ricky had moved into another residence on the square, along with his father, his stepmother Pat, his sisters Diane and Janine, and his grandmother Mo.

Ricky's history in Walford is rather complex; always a bit thick and too trusting, he often seemed the loser in life's game. He was quite a tearaway in his youth and was rarely out of trouble. Whilst working in the car lot with his father he stole a car before passing his test and managed to knock Pauline Fowler down in the process. He was fined seventy pounds and had his provisional license endorsed. He soon got over that, as he was becoming besotted with Shireen Karim. However, Shireen's father, Ashraf, soon put a stop to their blossoming relationship by forcing her into an arranged marriage. Ricky retaliated by hanging around with a gang of racist thugs and terrorizing Ashraf for a while, which soon stopped when Frank got wind of his actions.

Later on Ricky showed some talent at mending cars, so the Mitchell brothers took him on at their auto repair shop as an apprentice mechanic. At first they treated him with a heavy hand, but they soon began to see him more as a younger brother. Even so, they were suspicious of his intentions when he started going out with their much younger sister Samantha Mitchell. Sam had Ricky well and truly under the thumb, and he was willing to do exactly what she wanted. So when she decided that she wanted to get married at 16, he was powerless to stop it. Both the Mitchells and the Butchers were furious and tried to put a stop to their relationship, but this made Sam all the more determined and in June 1991 she and Ricky eloped to Gretna Green and tried to seal their union in secret. However, dozy Ricky wasn't very good at hiding his tracks and it didn't take Sam's mother Peggy long to discover where they were. Luckily for them, they managed to complete their nuptials before they were caught and even managed to persuade Peggy to attend a formal blessing back in Walford the following month. Their marriage was short-lived, as Sam soon grew bored and started to look for entertainment elsewhere. She left Ricky in 1993 when she started hanging around the modeling world.

In January 1994, Ricky had a one-night stand with Mandy Salter before she left Walford. Ricky was devastated when his father had a breakdown and abandoned him in 1994 after torching his car-lot and leaving his family in massive debt. Ricky later became partners in the re-opened car-lot with Pat's son David Wicks. However he was always treated as a useless skivvy and after Roy Evans took over the car-lot in 1994 he went back to work as a mechanic for his ex-wife's brother, Phil Mitchell.

Relationship with Bianca

Having flirted with her on the day she first arrived in Walford in November 1993, Ricky became increasingly attracted to bolshy red-head Bianca Jackson and in August 1994 they began a relationship. However their romance was to be kept secret due to the feud between Ricky's stepmother Pat and Bianca's mother Carol Jackson. Eventually they stood up to their domineering parents and moved in together in October 1994. Both families soon came round to the idea of Ricky and Bianca being in a relationship and as a result they all spent Christmas Day 1994 together.

However as 1995 approached, Ricky and Bianca's relationship began to deteriorate. Bianca soon found Ricky boring and preferred to be out at nightclubs with her best friend Tiffany Raymond. Together Bianca and Tiffany were a formidable pair and they constantly bullied both Ricky and Bianca's friend Natalie Price. As Bianca began to push Ricky away, he eventually sought comfort in the arms of a lonely Natalie and they began an affair in early February 1995. However Natalie soon fell in love with Ricky and decided that she wanted him only for herself, and when Ricky would not cooperate with her by informing Bianca of their affair she decided to bring it to Bianca's attention herself by planting her underwear in Ricky's overalls. This prompted Bianca to confess her fears to Natalie, who suggested that she should follow Ricky and catch him out. Sure enough on the night of Ethel's 80th birthday party in February 1995 Bianca followed Ricky and found him in a passionate embrace with Natalie at The Arches. Furious, she threw chips over him, dowsed him in beer and cut up all of his clothes.

Ricky was desperate to win Bianca back, and after discovering that Natalie had engineered the revelation of their affair he cruelly dumped her by informing her that he was only interested in sex. Feeling rejected, a heartbroken Natalie then left Walford. Bianca and Ricky soon became friends but Ricky realised that he still loved her and after much grovelling, they reconciled in June 1995 and got engaged later that month. However Bianca never allowed him to forget his infidelity, despite having a one-night stand with womanising barman Lenny Wallace in July 1996.

Despite these problems the two eventually decided to marry on 17 April 1997. Later that year Bianca fell pregnant and Ricky was overjoyed at the prospect of being a father. Their joy was short-lived as in November that year a prenatal scan revealed that their unborn baby had both spina bifida and hydrocephalus. After a heart-breaking period of soul-searching, they decided to terminate the pregnancy. The trauma devastated them both, but it did bring them closer and in September 1998 Bianca discovered that she had fallen pregnant a second time, which resulted in her prematurely giving birth to their son Liam on the floor of the Queen Vic on Christmas Day 1998. Later Ricky tried to become a motorcycle racer, but never succeeded at anything except getting convicted for dealing in stolen cars thanks to his long-time employer Phil Mitchell.

In 1999 he and Bianca broke up following her affair with her mother Carol's boyfriend, Dan Sullivan. With her marriage in ruins, Bianca left the Square with Liam in September that year. Ricky, despite last minute jitters, did not accompany her. After mooning about for a while and receiving further humiliation at the hands of Dan, Ricky left Walford in April 2000.

In May 2002 in a special spin-off episode "Ricky and Bianca" (which was a lead-up to Ricky's return to Walford later that year) Ricky met up with Bianca in Manchester and they briefly rekindled their relationship after he got her out of trouble with her boss Vince. But Bianca, who was struggling as a single parent, was manipulated by Ricky's new fiancée, Cassie, into believing that Ricky's life would be ruined if Bianca returned to him, and Bianca was also persuaded that she would never be able provide the kind of stability for Liam that Ricky could. Making a heartrending decision, Bianca left Liam with Ricky and had not been seen for over 6 years.

Return to Walford (2002)

On 8 August 2002, Ricky returned to Walford with his son Liam after hearing from former stepmother Pat that his sister Janine had resorted to prostitution and drug addiction. Janine had recently become agoraphobic following a fight with Laura Beale due to Janine being paid for sex by Laura's husband Ian that resulted in Laura throwing a pot of boiling milk over her. Upon seeing the state Janine was in, Ricky immediately blamed Janine's former boyfriend Billy Mitchell and attacked him. However Janine later intervened and berated Ricky for not being around to prevent her from going to these extreme measures. A guilty Ricky then stayed around and gradually helped Janine renew her confidence and overcome her agoraphobia.

During his time back in Walford Ricky had resumed his old job as a mechanic at The Arches and also found himself living with his ex-wife Sam. Sam was extremely fond of Liam and gradually found herself falling back in love with her ex-husband, but Ricky only had eyes for his former lover Natalie. By this point Natalie was married to Barry Evans and they had a son together, Jack, but they eventually both gave into temptation and rekindled their affair in January 2003. After one such rendezvous on Ricky's birthday in February 2003 they decided to take their sons and run away together. However a guilty Natalie began blowing hot and cold on Ricky, which led to the frustrated mechanic having a one-night stand with Sam after being seduced by her when Natalie cancelled one of their dates.

Whilst a besotted Sam made plans to rekindle with Ricky, she was eventually left devastated when he gave her the brush off after Natalie decided to give the go-ahead for them doing a runner. An upset Sam then confided in Janine over her fling with Ricky and after discovering her brother's affair with Natalie, Janine decided to use this knowledge to separate the lovers. This was due to the fact that Janine was becoming increasingly jealous of Ricky spending less time with her and devoting more time on Natalie. When Ricky and Natalie planned to run away on her birthday in March 2003, a spiteful Janine filled a heartbroken Barry in on their affair and that they were running away together and as a result he managed to stop them before it was too late. When Natalie remained resolute that their marriage was over and she was leaving him for Ricky, Janine then filled her in on her brother's one-night stand with Sam and a devastated Natalie broke off her affair with Ricky also.

Ricky and Janine fell out for a brief period over her deception but he soon forgave her. In May 2003 Ricky managed to successfully date a woman named Susie, who needed her car serviced. She was won over when she mistakenly thought that Ricky had written a poem she found when in fact the poem belonged to his friend Gus Smith. However their relationship was doomed from the start as Ricky was only ever interested in sex whilst Susie wanted a deep, meaningful relationship with him. After one sexual encounter Susie finally left Ricky when he confessed that Gus was in fact the poet and not him.

For the remainder of the year Ricky carried on working at the garage and supported his sister Janine. He comforted her upon discovering that her new husband Barry (Natalie's ex-husband) had died just a day after their marriage in January 2004. However Ricky was left horrified when Janine confided in him that she had actually killed Barry so that she could inherit all his possessions and on 3 February 2004 he departed Walford with his son Liam after disowning Janine.

Return to Walford (2008)

On 31 March 2008 Ricky turned up unexpectedly at the hotel where Pat and Peggy were staying. He and his sister Diane had already been in Walford looking for Pat and when they eventually caught up with her they informed her that their father Frank had died.

The next day was Frank's funeral in Walford, which saw the return of Janine and also the arrival of Ricky's fiancée Melinda. Ricky spent most of the day trying to get in touch with his ex-wife Bianca, as she had promised that their son Liam could attend his grandfather's funeral. Despite Liam not turning up, the Butcher siblings and Pat scattered Frank's ashes in the Albert Square gardens after the reading of the will, in which Ricky was bequeathed his old tool box from his first job as a mechanic.

The following week Ricky turned up in Walford again after Pat phoned to inform him that Bianca was staying at her home. It transpired that Bianca and her children had been homeless after being thrown out by their landlord and during her meeting with Ricky at a café she had been reluctant to allow Liam to stay with him in case their son spilled that they were homeless, which would result in her losing custody of him. Ricky was furious with her, but then Pat was left shocked and disgusted when Bianca revealed that after getting engaged to Melinda around Christmas 2006 Ricky sent Liam back to live with Bianca as Melinda had made it clear that she did not want him around. In order to get the kids back, as they were now in social care due to Bianca punching an inquiring police officer, Ricky and Bianca pretended that they were a couple and within a week the kids were back in Bianca's care living with her at Pat's. Ricky then left Walford again.

However a week later Ricky turned up again asking Pat if he could live with her, Bianca and the kids. He revealed that Melinda had left him after it became clear there was no financial gain to Frank's will. Ricky had been working with her father and after their break-up he lost his job and home and could no longer afford staying at a hotel. Pat then agreed that Ricky should live with them and also gave him a job as a minicab driver at her new firm Pat Cars. As Pat went to France to visit Diane, Ricky and Bianca grew closer as they united to help Liam settle in at school. Ricky soon realised that he still loved his ex-wife and began snooping around in order to gather information on Bianca's new partner Tony King, who was currently serving a sentence in prison for assaulting a teenage boy who was bullying Bianca's stepdaughter Whitney at school. However Ricky misread Bianca's signals and, thinking that she felt the same way about him, he kissed her. A shocked Bianca pulled away and threw Ricky out, declaring that she no longer loved him and was in a new relationship. Ricky began staying at the Queen Vic after his old boss Phil Mitchell gave him his sofa to sleep on. Ricky and Bianca soon patched up their differences after he defended both her and Liam at a meeting with Liam's school teacher when it became apparent that Liam wasn't doing well in all of his academic studies. After agreeing to pay for Libby Fox to tutor Liam, Ricky and Bianca had a private chat where she told him that her old feelings for him had gone but she still wanted to be friends. A reluctant Ricky agreed.

In order to get over Bianca Ricky began trying it on with Clare Bates, but to no avail. After going on holiday with Pat, Bianca and the kids to Bognor in August 2008, Ricky returned to discover that Peggy was engaged to her former brother-in-law Archie Mitchell. Not wanting to impose on the Mitchells any longer, Ricky opted to move out of the Queen Vic and asked Bianca if he could resume living with her at Pat's home. Bianca initially refused but after Whitney pointed out how much everyone was missing him she reluctantly changed her mind. Later that month Wellard, the family dog, took ill and Ricky proved to be a tower of strength for Bianca by looking after the kids whilst she rushed Wellard to the vet's and then comforting her when he had to be put down.

In September 2008, Ricky attempted to move on with his life by arranging a date with a woman named Fiona. However after Peggy remarked on how much she looked like Bianca, Ricky realised that he still loved his ex-wife. Ricky's feelings for Bianca were put on more strain when she revealed that her partner Tony King was due to be released from prison by the end of the week. After questioning his paternity of Bianca's son Morgan, Bianca saw this as jealousy and suggested that Ricky move out once Tony came home. Ricky then divulged this information to Pat, who persuaded him to stay and not act on his feelings for Bianca. However when Bianca was convinced that Tony wouldn't be turning up for his homecoming party due to the fact that he was hours late, Ricky finally plucked up the courage and confessed to Bianca that he was still in love with her. However, much to Ricky's dismay, Tony arrived. Since Tony returned from prison, Ricky had no choice but to sleep on his own on Pat's sofa.


External links


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