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Friday, 6 April, 2001, 08:56 GMT 09:56 UK
EastEnders ends our misery
Phil Mitchell and Lisa Shaw
Phil confronts Lisa in EastEnders on Thursday night
By BBC News Online's Darren Waters

The moment Lisa Shaw opened the door to find Phil Mitchell grinning like a Halloween pumpkin on her front step millions of viewers knew the mystery was over.

For the last month viewers of EastEnders have been teased and tormented about the identity of Phil Mitchell's would-be assassin.

At times Albert Square has been more like Murder on the Orient Express but without the plush fittings and cut glass accents.

Red herrings have lain strewn across the Square as if one of the fish stalls in the market had toppled over.

Culprit unmasked

Of course, in a traditional Agatha Christie whodunit the culprit is unmasked in a dramatic denouement at the end of the film or novel.

But given that 10 seconds into Thursday night's EastEnders we all knew the truth, the writers and producers had a job on their hands to keep our interest.

For the first 10 minutes, the writers tried to create some lingering uncertainty about the identity of the trigger man, or woman in this case.

But it just didn't work. The minutes ticked by laboriously before Phil Mitchell leant forward and whispered the all-important words into Lisa's ear, and finally bringing the curtain down on one of the soap's most popular plot lines.

Dead horse

But the producers obviously don't know a dead horse when they see one and insisted on flogging it for a further 25 minutes.

Quite why the programme was lengthened by 10 minutes is not entirely clear.

Those extra 600 seconds served no obvious purpose other than to ensure we all tuned in to the European football on immediately after the soap, and did not switch over to ITV's Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

As for subplots, Steve, Ian and Mark all raced around the Square afraid Phil Mitchell would be paying them a post-operative visit.

And Lisa proved herself capable of plumbing further depths by pleading with the man she had tried to kill that she still loved him.

There was still time for a few more secrets to come tumbling out.

Ian confessed he had left Phil dying on the pavement and Steve confessed he was, after all, a mite upset that Mel had been unfaithful to him before they married.

It was all faintly ludicrous but never less than entertaining.

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