Every soap has a whipping boy (or girl) and Billy Mitchell is the man who takes the blows in EastEnders.
He’s luckless, but harmless – or at least, he was until Lee Carter’s shocking revelation.
Lee (Danny-Boy Hatchard) dropped a bombshell that put Billy in the frame for Lucy Beale’s murder.
Lee saw Billy arguing with Lucy on the night she was killed, and he goes in for questioning in upcoming episodes.
We never saw that coming – and neither did Perry Fenwick who plays Billy.
Here, Perry talks to the Mirror about this terrific twist…
Did Billy feel that things were finally turning round for him?
“Yes, it’s a Billy trait. Every time everything goes right for him you know there’s going to be something round the corner. Anytime you hear him utter ‘this is going to be the best Christmas ever’ or ‘I think everything’s going to turn out fine’, you just know the rug’s going to be pulled from under him.”
When Lee turns up, does his world crumble?
“Yes, it’s so out of the blue. With the Lucy stuff, it’s the first time ever in EastEnders where there’s a lot that’s happened off screen that we haven’t shot. When Lee turns up, the pressure is on and Billy is doing things that are out of character. And I don’t know why! It’s odd and confusing but good fun. I just have to play it. It could be a red herring or it could be something significant – who knows? I did every scene once with Billy innocent of anything, and then once really dark. I haven’t done that since I first came into the show. There’s a line in a script where it’s a doof doof, and it says this is not the Billy we know and love, which is really dark.”
Do you think Billy is innocent?
“You can’t rule him out or the murder, even if you think someone is more obvious. I’m awaiting the next scripts. We’re all playing detective ourselves.”
Why would he kill Lucy?
“I don’t think Billy would do that simply because Lucy wouldn’t set up a lettings agency with him. But I’m interested to see. One minute I’m being good Billy and the next I’m bad Billy – it keeps me on my toes. All I can do is what they are putting in front of me and act it the best way that I can. I don’t know if he is or not!
How will you feel if Billy did kill Lucy?
“Well, I will be out of a job! He might get away with it, but I think Janine is the only one who can get away with that. She’s Teflon Janine – nothing sticks on her. I don’t know, that’s an interesting question. It depends how it all goes. I’ve been playing Billy for 16 years now and I personally don’t think he’s got it in him, but who knows. If someone cracks, if someone gets desperate enough, then that’s how murders happen. He would be really, really silly Billy if he had.”
Who do you think killed Lucy?
“I don’t know! It’s interesting because even before she was killed the powers that be were putting in stuff that the cast didn’t know about. Everyone has a reason, everyone’s a suspect, but obviously some people more than others. In that respect it could be Billy, but that’s the beauty of it. When we’re doing a scene in the Queen Vic and someone’s got to look a bit cagey, we’re taking bets on each other. It’s challenging to act as you have to do everything ambiguously because you can’t be too hard down one side and too soft down another. It’s keeping us all guessing.”
Is it great to be involved in such a big storyline?
“It’s like a Cluedo game. It’s great the viewing figures are up but it’s created a monster for us because we can’t walk down the road without someone asking who killed Lucy. That’s what I’m getting asked 20 times a day. I was in a shop and two policemen tapped me on the shoulder and I thought they suspected I might have been shoplifting. They said, no, we just want to know who killed Lucy. I said that’s your job, isn’t it! But now I just say it was Colonel Mustard in the library with the lead pipe.”
EastEnders, BBC1, Monday, July 14, 8.00pm