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The BBC's Rebecca Jones
"The episode caused a massive power surge"
 real 56k

Thursday, 1 March, 2001, 22:25 GMT
Nation gripped by Square shooting
The dramatic moment
Phil Mitchell has upset most of Albert Square
Millions have tuned into the dramatic shooting of hardman Phil Mitchell on Thursday's episode of EastEnders.

The mystery shooting has been described as the biggest soap whodunnit since JR Ewing was gunned down in the hit 1980s US soap Dallas.

EastEnders even triggered a nationwide power surge as viewers watched Phil, played by Steve McFadden, collapse in Albert Square after being shot in the shoulder.

The programme's makers are hoping to keep viewers hooked by the shooting and will not reveal the identity of the guilty party until early April.

JR Ewing
JR's shooting attracted a surge of bets in 1980

Official viewing figures for Thursday's shooting are not yet available, but the BBC1 soap regularly attracts audiences of several million.

Phil was gunned down shortly after the wedding of his one-time lover Mel Healy to nightclub owner Steve Owen.

Mel's fling

Bridegroom Steve, played by Martin Kemp, discovered in Tuesday's episode that bride Mel had a fling with Phil at Christmas.

He whispered "In case you were wondering, I know," to his new wife at the end of the ceremony.

Phil rowed with his ex-girlfriend Lisa and business rival Dan Sullivan at the reception before having a violent clash with Mel's first husband Ian Beale.
Dan Sullivan
Dan Sullivan is now the favourite culprit

The alcoholic garage boss hit the vodka bottle alone in his flat, where viewers saw him receive a mystery phonecall before someone knocked on his front door.

No-one was at the door but the barrel of a gun was seen in bushes as Phil turned to go back into his house, and a shot rang out.

Suspects Dan, Mark, Ian, Lisa, Mel and Steve had all disappeared just before the shooting.

Since his brother Grant - played by Ross Kemp - left the show, Phil has become the nastiest character on the block, and has upset nearly everybody.

Bets on who pulled the trigger are keeping bookmakers busy up and down the UK.

Bookmakers William Hill said its odds had changed.

Dan moves to favourite

  • Former part-owner of the Vic, Dan Sullivan, who was conned out of his share of the pub by Phil, moved up from 13-8 to become the 5-4 favourite
  • Newlywed Steve Owen, who has a gun and stood trial for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Saskia, moved from 4-1 to 9-4
  • Mark Fowler, played by Todd Carty, has made no effort to disguise his hatred for Phil. The market stallholder, who has always carried a torch for Lisa, moved from 7-1 to 3-1
  • Phil's pregnant ex-girlfriend Lisa Shaw, who was the favourite after she discovered that Phil had slept with her best friend Mel, slipped to 4-1
  • Ian Beale has more reason than most to kill Phil. The victim of a shooting himself, Ian hates his former stepfather for the way he allowed him to go bankrupt without helping. He moved from 10-1 to 6-1
  • Blushing bride Mel Healy slipped from 12-1 to 20-1

    The much-publicised episode caused a power surge across the UK, National Grid said.

    A usual episode of EastEnders triggers a read-out of 300 to 500 megawatts, but Thursday's measured 1,200 megawatts, enough to boil almost half a million kettles, a spokesman said.

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