Former EastEnders star Dame Barbara Windsor has criticised the decision made by the BBC soap’s recently instated Executive Producer Sean O’Connor to write out Ronnie and Roxy Mitchell.
It was announced in August that Samantha Womack would be bowing out as Ronnie following a dramatic storyline being put to her by O’Connor who assumed his post over the summer.
Within days news followed that Rita Simons, who plays Roxy, is also to leave the BBC One serial and that the Mitchell sisters will go together.
Dame Babs, 79, who played Ronnie and Roxy’s auntie Peggy on and off between 1994-2016, has now revealed that both actresses hadn’t planned to leave the saga opining via The Sun that the new boss has made a mistake in cutting them loose:
“It wasn’t the girl’s choice. It’s the new producer’s decision. I’m sure he’ll be good for the show, but that is a mistake. When I heard I was shocked.” – Dame Babs
The Mitchell sisters are expected to depart Walford in episodes airing over the New Year period. Their exit has been the subject of tabloid speculation recently with reports suggesting the pair will be killed off and that multiple endings have been filmed.
The Sun notes that Dame Barbara considers the (unconfirmed) shutting of the door on the characters a ‘huge blunder’.
Peggy with Ronnie and Roxy in a 2009 episode of EastEnders
Ronnie and Roxy with their mum Glenda
EastEnders bosses devised ‘the Mitchell sisters’ in 2007 to add some energy to the Queen Vic. Ronnie and Roxy arrived in Walford, fresh from Ibiza, in July of that year for their cousin Phil’s wedding reception and soon decided to stick around.
Sam Womack quit her role after four years when a controversial plot saw Ronnie lose her baby son James to cot death before swapping him for neighbour Kat Moon’s son Tommy. Ofcom received 1,044 complaints over the two New Year episodes of 2010 which featured the swap while the BBC itself received 13,400 complaints.
Ronnie’s leaving line saw her imprisoned over the kidnap while a return to the soap for Womack in 2013 saw her released from prison. Ronnie’s storylines in both stints have typically been of a hard-hitting nature. Others include the death of her daughter Danielle (Lauren Crace) as they were reunited, the admission that she was sexually abused by her father Archie (Larry Lamb) and killing Roxy’s boyfriend Carl White (Daniel Coonan).
Roxy’s storylines include a fiery relationship with Sean Slater (Robert Kazinsky), the reveal that Ronnie’s long term love interest Jack Branning (Scott Maslen) is the father of her daughter Amy, and an abusive relationship with Dean Wicks (Matt Di Angelo) who almost raped her.