Yeah, it's been a while since I've done an EastEnders related post but with the departure of two characters on New Year's Day, I thought it was time to fix that.
In July 2007, the Mitchell family found themselves getting expanded when two cousins by the names of Ronnie (Samantha Womack) and Roxy (Rita Simons) rocked up in Walford for one of cousin Phil's (Steve McFadden) many weddings over the years. Months before that, upon Womack and Simons respective casting for the show, the BBC launched a series of trailers to promote the characters, including one that show Ronnie as the Ice to Roxy's fire and the pair of them stirring up the Vic while dancing to Calvin Harris's The Girls.
Aside from the girls both being members of the Mitchell clan, there was certainly a level of confidence aimed at the characters to bolster the show a little and within nine and a half years, this has happened and then some. Between both sisters, we've had several weddings, children, death of children, the girls controlling father Archie (Larry Lamb) - one of the show's best villains, drug addictions, baby swaps. The one thing that cannot be said that the characters were ever boring but saying that, things do come to an end.
In late 2016 after weeks of current producer Sean O'Connor taking over the show (and dividing viewers with his approach to storytelling), it was announced that both Ronnie and Roxy would be leaving the show in early 2017. Weeks later, it was announced exactly how they would depart the series and it genuinely sounded ludicrous. On screen though, the depiction was something a little more baroque but still ludicrous. After nine and a half years and more drama that you can throw at a pairing of siblings from a family as volatile as the Mitchells, Ronnie and Roxy were killed by drowning in a pool at the stroke at midnight. Yup, that apparently is how you write out these characters after so long on the show.
New Year's Day has always been somewhat chaotic for the Mitchell sisters. In the past, Ronnie has had to save Roxy from nearly drowning in a frozen lake and we've seen Ronnie lose both her and Jack (Scott Maslan) son, James on that day, leading to the controversial baby swap storyline with Kat (Jessie Wallace) and Alfie (Shane Ritchie) along with Ronnie's murder of gangster Carl White (Daniel Coonan) and almost being killed herself on her own wedding to Charlie Cotton (Declan Bennett). This time around, she was marrying Jack for the second time and despite some initial hiccups between her and Roxy and a deeper look into their co-dependent relationship, it finally seemed like things were on happy ground for the dark character and her hedonistic sister. Then they got drunk and died in a freak accident.
I'm not strictly against killing off big characters and the final episode for both Womack and Simons certainly had a lot of lovely motifs and nods to their past. Recreating their trailer for the wedding reception was a genius move along with both of them discussing opening up another nightclub along with the selfie moment they had with Phil in the episode earlier. I even loved that not remotely use of Cinderella as Jack read slowly to Amy, Ricky and Matthew while Ronnie and Roxy's last moments played out and the show of the two of them in the pool was certainly eerie and one of the darkest images the show has done.
However saying that and watching the aftermath in the next two episodes, I can't help thinking that Sean O'Connor was somewhat hasty in his decision to kill off both characters. I don't think resting Ronnie and Roxy in itself was strictly a bad idea. Certain characters on soaps work with being written out for a bit and some characters do have a shelf life. While there was a danger of Ronnie and Roxy forever repeating the same habits, I do think that in the long run killing both of them off in the way they were on Sunday's episode wasn't the best decision though.
That said, a special thanks to both Samantha Womack and Rita Simons for their work over the years and especially for the last episode. Walford won't be the same without the Mitchell sisters.