Here's everything you need to know about posh rotter James Willmott-Brown (actor William Boyde), who's made a shock return to Walford after 25 years
EastEnders dropped a monumental-sized bombshell on viewers tonight, when posh rotter James Willmott-Brown (actor William Boyde) made a return to Walford after 25 years, and was revealed as Fi Browning’s father!
But while some fans may be picking their jaws up off the floor in disbelief, others will be staring into space and asking themselves the question: “Willmott who?” Because if you weren’t watching EastEnders back in the 80s, chances are you might never have heard of him.
So, for those in need of a quick EastEnders history lesson – and those who just want a quick refresh – here’s everything you need to know about the infamous JWB…
1. He used to be in charge of The Vic (sort of…)
James Willmott Brown, an ex-army Officer, first arrived in Walford in 1986. He was the manager for Luxford and Copley, the brewery that owned The Queen Vic – a storyline that echoes that of his frosty daughter, Fi, who is currently overseeing the running of the boozer for Grafton Hill, the firm who recently bought the freehold.
2. Pat Wicks tried to seduce him!
Suave, handsome and well-spoken, Willmott-Brown was seen as a bit of a catch by the ladies, and Pat Wicks made several (failed) attempts to seduce him. It’s the one time we actually felt sorry for him.
3. He owned The Dagmar
In 1987, Willmott-Brown packed in his brewery job and bought a disused pub on Turpin Road called The Dagmar, which he turned into a yuppie wine bar. It earned him an enemy in Vic landlord, Den Watts, who nicknamed him “Collis Browne” (a diarrhoea remedy – ask your Grandad). Den’s nose was put further out of joint when “Collis” employed his ex wife, Angie, as manageress.
4. He raped Kathy!
The locals boycotted The Dagmar when Willmott-Brown grassed Den up to the police over his shady dealings at rival wine bar, Strokes. With his business going down the pan, James leaned on Kathy for support, whom he had employed as a barmaid, and confided in her about how his marriage break-up had affected him and his children, Sophie (Fi – geddit?) and Luke. When Kathy had a row with husband Pete one night, Wilmott-Brown invited her back to his flat for a drink and tried to seduce her. Kathy wasn’t interested, but Willmott-Brown wouldn’t take “no” for an answer, and raped her.
5. He got sent darn…
Den found a frightened Kathy after the rape, and got revenge on his nemesis by arranging for The Dagmar to be torched – a crime that landed him in prison. Willmott-Brown was later to receive “official” punishment when, despite his efforts to wriggle out of his crime by saying Kathy consented to sex, he was found guilty of rape and given a three year stint behind bars – a storyline which led to actor William Boyde’s exit from the show in 1989.
6. He made a brief comeback in 1992
Willmott-Brown returned to Walford when he was released from prison in ’92, and despite initially promising to leave, he insisted on sticking around, and hounded Kathy with declarations of his love. In a bid for attention, he threatened suicide, but Kathy stopped him, refusing to let him off the hook. James then finally apologised for the attack, and left the Square a defeated man.
7. Phil discovered that he had raped again!
When Kathy started to have recurring nightmares about Willmott-Brown in 1994, then boyfriend, Phil Mitchell, decided to go in search of him. He tracked down James’s wife, and discovered that Willmott-Brown was back in prison after raping another woman. He was never heard of again…until now!
8. Actor William Boyde is now a voiceover artist
William Boyde, who played Willmott-Brown, only had three TV roles after ‘Enders – the last one being in Johnny Vaughan’s much-panned 2001 sitcom, “Orible. These days, he works as a Voiceover artist, and has voiced numerous documentaries and adverts. In fact, according to his LinkedIn page, Catch 22 author Joseph Heller says he has “The Voice of England.”