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Who killed Archie? Even EastEnders actors don't know

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Diederick Santer Diederick Santer | 10:12 UK time, Thursday, 18 February 2010

EastEnders has never played it safe - whether that's by breaking taboos, like giving Mark Fowler HIV when no one else would talk about it, or by allowing a load of teenagers to take over the show as we did with our spin-off series E20 a few months ago - and we're certainly taking a big risk by deciding to do our first ever live episode for our 25th anniversary on Friday, 19 February.  

But it's our risk-taking spirit which has brought us our biggest successes and which has made us the greatest British soap of the last 25 years.

I've been executive producer of the show for nearly three and a half years, overseeing all aspects of the show's content and production, and it is an enormous personal privilege for me to steer the show that I've been watching since I was 15 to its quarter century. This anniversary will be a celebration for the audience of all that is great and has been great about EastEnders over the last 25 years.  

We'd mapped out a big whodunnit story (Who Killed Archie?), featuring many of our biggest characters and crossing with Ricky and Bianca's (second) wedding, to play leading up to the anniversary night.  But we only decided to do a live episode after we worked out the best way to protect the secrets of the story. The cast, the crew and the audience won't learn the identity of the killer until the night. In addition, of course, it's a new and exciting way for the audience to experience EastEnders and a bracing challenge for our cast and crew.
EastEnders: Bianca and Ricky's second wedding
When I first told the cast about it, their responses were very clearly divided between great enthusiasm and deep worry.  In the end, if things go wrong (which of course they won't!) the egg will appear to be on their faces. But as time has gone on, they've all become excited by the challenge, and by the opportunity to work in a different way, albeit for one night only.
We'll be rehearsing loads. Run through after run through, drilling our team like an army, building up confidence, ironing out the glitches, perfecting the action. 

Simon Ashdown, who has written the script, will be on hand throughout the rehearsal process, working with director Clive Arnold and line producer Sue Mather to get the very best fit between the creative and the practical. It's very complicated. 

Usually when a character walks from the interior of the Queen Vic out onto Albert Square, we film it on separate days - the interior in the studio, the exterior on our 'lot'.  But for the live we can't do this - to move an actor from one set to the other requires other scenes in between to cover the action. To sort out these issues, there have been a number of people walking briskly around the site holding stopwatches.
I'm so excited about the big night. I'm confident that the performance will go well, and I'm really intrigued to see what the audience make of the outcome. What I'm also really looking forward to is finally not having to live with the worry of knowing who the killer is any longer.  There's very few of us who know, and we've had the story mapped out in our heads (not on paper!) for about a year. We live in constant fear of giving it away, talking in our sleep, nodding at the wrong moment.
None of the actors know who did it. We'll be rehearsing a number of scenes in which a variety of outcomes are revealed, but I won't be telling the cast and the crew which one we're doing until the night, moments before we start transmitting.
It's our biggest ever risk, and our biggest ever night, but I wouldn't want it any other way

UPDATE 17:12 - PS - I'll be writing here on the TV blog again after the live episode - come back on Monday to see how it turned out!

Diederick Santer is executive producer of EastEnders


  • Comment number 1.

    Santer says "None of the actors know who did it", but surely the episodes that follow the live one will have been recorded 6+ weeks in advance, and so the actors and production staff do know. Not that it bothers me mind, I quite like a surprise ;-)

  • Comment number 2.

    No he won't actually reveal to the person who it is untill the night and they filmed about 10 different endings to film and of course , only one will be done , so the cast won't know untill the night.

  • Comment number 3.

    Hmm, Eastenders seems more contrived as time goes by. Too many stories nowadays are built on people simply be nasty and lying. There is little in the way of drama or the tackling of issues. (I think the last one was the Whitney peadophile story line but even that would have been better done if we'd seen Tony weedle his way into their lives, rather than just pick up the story half way through, though I accept it was a difficult sudject).

    The Christian/Saeed story line was simply about Christian being a cheat on people but it was dressed up as being about Islam and sexuality which, to my mind, only represented a very small fraction of what actually happened.

    I think if the scriptwriters got back to normal people's lives interacting then the programme would gain back alot of credibility that I think has been lost in the hunt for ratings and competition with other soaps.

    There is no drama or surprise when you can see what is going to be happening the following week just by glancing at the endless magazine covers when I pop into a newsagents in the morning.

    The programme is nowhere near as good as it used to be though I do still watch. I think as my life has changed, the half hour of mostly nonsense that Eastenders is, is just what my brain needs at a certain time of the day.

    But don't big yourself up with self-importance for what really is just 'soap'.

  • Comment number 4.

    I'm so excited and have been since I first heard about it! I think it would be hilarious if Marsden trips over before telling everyone who killed Archie! I bet they film it 30 secs ahead incase someone swears!

  • Comment number 5.

    Alexander, i think Bridget is getting at the fact that next week's episodes have already been filmed featuring the aftermath of the live episode so the cast will of course know who did it.

    They're not going to film one storyline for each of the ten suspects going on for months just so no one finds out before the reveal...

  • Comment number 6.

    Sean Slater killed archie mitchell (he will return as the big reveal on friday 19th feb 2010) xx

  • Comment number 7.

    But bakesmantooth, they are going to film episodes to slot into the upcoming episodes. Plus, we will know who the killer is, doesn't mean the police will. We might just see someone feeling guilty and saying 'I killed Archie' to themselves.

    This is going to be a great episode.

    Happy 25th Birthday Eastenders!!

  • Comment number 8.

    From what I can gather the killer will be revealed to the audience but not the characters, which will allow for future episodes to have been filmed without the rest of the cast needing to know. Maybe I'm wrong though!

  • Comment number 9.

    wow this is all sooooo interesting...i can't wait for 8pm tonight...i'm counting every hour (literally)...this is amazing....EASTENDERS IS LIVEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.

    I hope it all goes very well, however, it would be very amusing for a tiny little mishap (i.e Ronnie forgetting her lines) oooops.. :) Then again you eastenders do have a back up tape if anything dramatically goes wrong.

    I want to be in EASTENDERSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 10.

    Really enjoy Eastenders out her in Australia and have been watching for over the 21 years but feeling really excluded from akll the news on the website as none of the video or updates are available to the fans here in Australia via the web. Why is this so and how can we get back into he fold!!!!!

  • Comment number 11.

    One thing Eastenders needs to stop doing is copyign Hollyoaks and playing music at the start of episodes, doesn't work at all and is dreadful. Eastenders should be at the forefront of cutting edge soap idea not copying some lame Channel 4 show

  • Comment number 12.

    I think Shirley dunnit.
    Phil started drinking again because of Archie.
    Also Shirley is a bit of deadwood,and a life sentance is the way out.

  • Comment number 13.

    Good Luck to everyone on my favourite soap of all time. I have put a bet on who i think 'did it' and hope i am right. Will be watching, glued to the t v. Best wishes.. x

  • Comment number 14.

    OMGG i caannt waiitt! 34 minz 2 gooo! Sooooooooo xciteddd! x

  • Comment number 15.

    Seann Slater killed Archiee..

  • Comment number 16.

    that was rubbish, all that build up for that, sack the story writer for tis!!

  • Comment number 17.

    Does everyone at Eastenders think the general public are stupid as the comment before said the Monday episode will have been recorded weeks ago and i'm sure there will be references to Stacey being the murderer.
    So therefore it must have been known well beforehand who did it

  • Comment number 18.

    i have watched eastenders from the early years! the live episode tonight was amazing.just want to share the praise to all the cast. It has us all talking and guessing. how fab! Eastenders has me laughing, crying and guessing! keep up the great work.

  • Comment number 19.

    absolutely amazing! was looking forward to the eastenders live show for weeks. ee didn't disappoint.so emotional after watching.i thought Bradley or Stacey but didn't expect the final outcome! well done to all the cast and crew would never have thought it was live no difference to the normal show! well done Lacey Turner and Charlie Clements superb acting as always. cant wait to watch the aftermath of Ronnie's revelations. congratulations eastenders! you deserve every accolade!

  • Comment number 20.

    Ok,stacey did it .....so why was Ryan/Sean filmed behind Archie on that fatal episode ?!!!!

    brill acting from the Brad character,a true pro....all the best in your future career.

  • Comment number 21.

    Great show well done to Cast and Crew

  • Comment number 22.

    How predictable. They introduce another bipolar character, make a song and dance about how accurately they've represented her condition, then go along with the mentally ill = dangerous stereotype, undoing all the good work they've done.

  • Comment number 23.

    Shocked Thought someone without a motive would huv dunnit eg Ben but STACEY why her she just ruined the live episond for the murder Terrible.

  • Comment number 24.

    Lovin the hype - great ep! The aftermath on beeb3 was a touch n all!

    Can someone tell me what music was used at the end of the Bradley montage, puhhleeeaze?? it's driving me mad!!

  • Comment number 25.

    Tonight Was Amazing....I Was Dying 4 Ages 2 Find Out Who It Was. Best Storyline Ever!!!. When Watchin It 2nit I Just On The Egde Of My Seat Haha. Im So Glad I Waited Cause It Was Wornt It. Im Dying 2 See Whats Goin 2 Come Next. Every1 Was Gr8 They Played Their Part Brill. Im Goin 2 Miss poor Owl Bradley. Bring On More!!!!! Us Were Gr8 Live, Do It More Hahah

  • Comment number 26.

    Going back to Bridget's point (which Alexander did not seem to understand), the episodes are filmed in advance. We now also know that the character who killed Archie reveals it to another character. So surely the episodes that were filmed in advance contains SOME dialogue referencing this (it's not like the two characters will forget everything that's happened and never talk about it again). And surely other cast members would have read the scripts/witnessed the scenes filmed in advance for the storyline AFTER the live episode? I don't see how it is possible for the cast members to only find out on the night. Either they all (or at least some of them) knew or Eastenders will not be filming the next few months episodes in the next few weeks, which I very much doubt?

    This aside, I thought it was a well done episode, nice to see professionals at their best. Any of the actors with theatre experience probably loved it. Actors only used to multiple takes on TV must have been bricking it!

  • Comment number 27.

    Amazing episode ,the suspense was amazing. I wanted to turn the channel over when bradley and stacey were running away because I was scared for them! eastenders is amazing!

  • Comment number 28.

    Absolutely Fantastic!! My family and I have been waiting for this for months! Very well written and brilliantly acted. Very sad Bradley has gone though he was one of the nice guys, but do understand there is only so far you can go with a character and I suppose he has done it all!!
    Congratulations EastEnders on 25 Brilliant years, cant wait for the next 25 xxxxx

  • Comment number 29.

    In response to a few comments, Jon's in particular, I'd say it's pretty achievable to have the cast not knowing the killer's identity. What we should expect come Monday is some pretty ambiguous dialogue between characters. A cast member was interviewed a few weeks back and said that they had been filming scenes and had been directed to say their lines in a certain way, but not told why.

    Also remember that another revelation from Friday is that Archie raped Ronnie, and only Roxy knows. There will obviously be dialogue between the two of them pertaining to that, which, for all the actors know, could have been relating to Ronnie revealing to Roxy that she killed Archie. Same with Stacey and Max...for all the actors know, Stacey could merely have revealed the identity of the father. Also remember that alot of scenes will focus around her grieving for Bradley, rather than her guilt.

    I'd say that fairly ambiguous scenes will be broadcast for the first couple of days, and obviously with the knowledge of what happened on Friday, they won't be ambiguous to the viewers. I did hear somewhere that the killer would be shooting some scenes on Monday, so I'd say they will be more specific ones to slot into episodes which have already been filmed.

    I'm usually quite sceptical about soaps saying they have "multiple endings" (it's always a complete crock when Corrie says it), but this time I'd say they've got it covered.

  • Comment number 30.

    can i just say WELL DONE EASTENDERS for a jaw dropping show never before have i been so excited about eastenders with all the hype and the who done it i actually thought it was bradley but stacey was a total shock! i was in tears when bradlety fell to his death i knew he was goin 2 die but didnt think it would have been on the live episode charlie clements is a brilliant actor and will be sorely missed so whats nest for stacey? will she rekindle her love with max after losing bradley? or will she go with the father who i think is ryan.

  • Comment number 31.

    I was shocked when i watched eastenders live yesterday and it was reave aled that stacey slater killed arcnie mitchell

  • Comment number 32.

    I'd been looking forward to the live episode even if I was getting a bit fed-up with all the plugs - big whodunnits in the past never needed so much hype.

    What upsets me however is that bradley was the fall guy - I am fed up with the tragedies that befall the characters on eastenders, especially in this case when Bradley and Stacey looked like they were going to get ANOTHER chance. The whodunnit aspect was gripping enough without having Bradley die too. He was one of the few "nice" male characters in the Square - shame he wont be around anymore. I hope he is leaving to go on to bigger and better things.

    I think I have had enough tragedy and have decided that I will not be watching this particular soap anymore :c

  • Comment number 33.

    con gratulations eastenders for keeping all the fans on the end of there seats until the very end of the prooramme when the kiler was finnaly reavealed.

  • Comment number 34.

    A great episode I must say.

    But surely the cast would know the murderer given that in next weeks actions there will be interactions between Max and Stacey already recorded which would discuss the murder?

    Maybe they wont mention it at all for a while.

  • Comment number 35.

    Bradley's leaving story was great so to have Stacey to admit to killing Archie was a great exit line for her.Now to distract us from the different outcomes Zeinab's baby arrives with the help of Masood and Christian more to come on this story line cannot wait.But what plans have they for Lucy.

  • Comment number 36.



  • Comment number 37.

    it was amazing and i love eastenders and would love to act on it!!!!

    how ever on the live episode i saw max branning put his fingers down his throat to make him sick when bradley died, theres groups on facebook and theres pictures of him doing it, but hey its live and it still was fantastic, i didnt notice anything else accept this.

    it was amazing and well done to you all i think your all amazing! x

  • Comment number 38.

    Liz from Melbourne Australia (comment 10 above) - this is an excellent question. I'm the editor of the TV blog so I've asked Matt Humphreys, the editor of EastEnders website to explain why you can't watch the videos from outside the UK.
    This is his reply:
    'Unfortunately, we can't make streaming video available to people outside the UK because of the expense of providing this sort of content. The BBC needs to make sure that we give the best value to the British public who pay the UK licence fee which funds the BBC. There's more info on the BBC Help pages site regarding this.
    It might not be quite the same as watching the show, but check out the EastEnders blog for behind the scenes photos and all the speculation from fans on the fallout of the live episode who dunnit. But beware, there's lots of spoilers!'

  • Comment number 39.

    Hello again,
    To those above including Zara, gorde21, emma, Angie Linford, Mark, Ash, mac, julie, Elizabeth, Ex-Tender, Bridget, sweet alternative, Jon and Peter: Please have a read of Diederick's new post: After EastEnders live episode, Stacey Slater disappears!
    He's namechecked you all in responding to all your comments - he explains how they kept the killer's identity a secret through six advance weeks of pre-recs (very good question), what he thinks the music is in the Bradley montage, and gives a few hints of what's coming up next in the plotlines. I can't promise Diederick is able to keep coming back to the blog but there's more of him coming up on EastEnders website - so keep an eye on him there.

    Thanks for all your comments everyone.

  • Comment number 40.

    I LOVED the live episode

    Bradley dieing was sad. I didn't want him to die but I didn't want him to just leave without Stacey lol

    I loved Lacey's performance, best in the show

  • Comment number 41.

    The live show was flippin brilliant!! i had guessed it was Stacey there were just little things that were a giveaway but OMG still had me hooked.
    Im well gutted Bradley is gone him and Stacey were made for each other, Although bringing Alfie and Kat back will make up for it.

    Just want to say Congrats to Diederick and all the writers the storylines over the last few months have been amazing and Well dont to all the cast on the live show x

  • Comment number 42.

    The three clues revealed! And more - Watch Diederick answer questions from the audience about the live episode on the EastEnders website.

    emma - Diederick answers your question, what's next for Stacey? in the second video here!

    Thanks everyone

  • Comment number 43.

    the actors had to have known who killed archie before the live show espically the person who murdered.

  • Comment number 44.

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