By Ellie Iorizzo, PA Senior Entertainment Reporter
Danny Dyer has left EastEnders in tragic scenes that saw his character, Mick Carter, killed off in the English Channel in an attempt to save the love of his life following their brief reunion.
The 45-year-old actor has quit the BBC One soap after almost a decade, having joined the cast on Christmas Day in 2013, shortly followed by his on-screen wife, Linda Carter, played by Kellie Bright.
The dramatic hour-long Christmas Day episode did not disappoint viewers, with Janine Butcher’s web of lies unravelling during a family Christmas Day dinner, driving her newly-wed husband Mick into the arms of former wife Linda.
Can you Adam and Eve it’s almost Mick Carter’s last day on The Square? Have a butchers at his time in Walford. Alongside the drama, he’s had a right bubble. #EastEnders #GoodbyeMick@MrDDyer@BBCOne@BBCiPlayer pic.twitter.com/rw01TExgAy
— BBC EastEnders (@bbceastenders) December 21, 2022
In the romantic scenes, Mick said: “It’s you. It’s always been you. I’ve known it all along, deep down I just couldn’t face it. It was easier to pretend, to look away.
“Every single day I tried to convince myself that I loved Janine, but in my gut I just knew it wasn’t true, I love you. I’ve loved you my whole life. I’ve never stopped, not for one moment.”
After discovering that his new bride Janine had engineered his break-up by framing Linda, who struggled with alcoholism, as the cause of a car crash, Mick refused to let her get away.
“She don’t get to skip off into the sunset, she needs to pay for what she’s done,” Mick said.
In the dramatic car chase, Mick and Linda follow Janine, played by Charlie Brooks, to Dover while the eerie Carol Of The Bells, by Patrick Thomas Hawes, played over a bird’s eye view of the cliffs in darkness.
Yes Janine, you are the drama. #EastEnders pic.twitter.com/nksTdm0v8x
— BBC EastEnders (@bbceastenders) December 24, 2022
After they catch up with her, Janine kicks and slaps Mick on the clifftop leaving him rolling around on the ground before Linda jumps into her car in an attempt to stop her getting away.
As the car swerves across the road, Linda struggles to get control of the steering wheel before the pair plummet off the side of the cliff into the water below.
Mick throws himself over the cliff and, after finding the car underwater, follows Linda’s instructions to help Janine, who is pregnant with his baby, to safety first.
Realising Linda has not re-surfaced, Mick throws himself back into the treacherous water as viewers watch Linda crawl on to the shore in emotional scenes.
In sheer panic, Linda wails: “Where is he, where is he? Mick, Mick,” before falling to her knees on the beach in slow motion as Mick does not return to the shore.
1 day to go... #EastEnders #GoodbyeMick pic.twitter.com/DE9nUOzl7Q
— BBC EastEnders (@bbceastenders) December 24, 2022
The EastEnders theme tune did not play at the end of the episode; instead the credits rolled as To Build A Home, by The Cinematic Orchestra, played over an aerial view of waves crashing.
Speaking of his departure, Dyer said there had been another exit which had not stuck and agreed he had come “full circle” as his character was originally afraid of water.
“It’s important to know the history of the show for that to work, Ian Beale did teach me to swim.
“I just wanted it to be a fitting end. So hopefully it is. There was an alternative ending to be fair, but we’ve not gone with that,” he said.
Bright, who plays Linda, said: “There was such a lot of real, raw emotion tied up in the filming of the last episode, for me. But I’m very proud to be part of it. I love EastEnders at Christmas, I love filming it. I love being part of it.
“It always feels special and it does feel very much like it’s gone full circle because that was obviously when we came into the show.
“Actually just seeing Mick and Linda together on screen it did make me go ‘It’s so right seeing them together’.”
Meanwhile, producer Chris Clenshaw said he felt that after nine years Mick Carter “went out in fashion”.
He said: “Mick Carter is not the kind of character that goes out in the back of a black car. I’m very grateful for Danny for staying a little longer and giving us a Christmas Day exit because I think what’s really important is that we give the audience big drama on Christmas Day.
“I think there’s nothing bigger than Mick’s exit. I think it was really important that we did reunite the two of them. If you know the history of these two characters, they are the love of each other’s lives. That’s in their DNA.”
After it was revealed that Janine had been lying in an effort to secure her relationship with Mick, Linda grabs Janine around the throat and pushes her into a Christmas tree in a screaming brawl.
Forever isn’t over yet, Mick… 🤞 #EastEnders pic.twitter.com/iD6O8GgNnk
— BBC EastEnders (@bbceastenders) December 23, 2022
Dyer, who had to hold back his on-screen wife from striking again, said: “That’s old-school EastEnders that. Big scenes, they were long scenes, 21 pages or something, just all around a table.
“That’s the old school EastEnders, I love that. I do think we’ve raised the bar with this.”
Dyer also spoke about filming the water scenes in Ramsgate in Kent, which made up the majority of his final scenes.
He added: “You had the water tank stuff as well, which they filmed with broccoli juice. My last scene I was smothered in broccoli, I was very tearful and I was all emotional but I smelt of broccoli it sort of softened the blow.”
During his time, Dyer appeared in 1150 episodes of the soap, had 117 doof-doofs, welcomed the-then Prince of Wales and his wife Camilla to Albert Square and starred in a spin-off series with documentary maker Stacey Dooley.
EastEnders airs at 7.30pm on Boxing Day on BBC One.