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Tuesday, 6 March, 2001, 03:07 GMT
Betting flurry on EastEnders killing
The dramatic moment
Punters rushed to bet on the New Avengers star
Bookmakers William Hill have closed the book on who shot EastEnders' Phil Mitchell after a betting flurry on actor Gareth Hunt.

The bets were placed on the former New Avengers star being the culprit, even though he is not a character in the BBC soap.

Millions tuned in to see the shooting of hardman Phil Mitchell, played by Steve McFadden, in Thursday's episode.

William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe said they had taken a bet for Hunt on Monday morning and there were dozens of calls within half an hour of a 16/1 price being quoted.

Gareth Hunt
Hunt is not in EastEnders but is still a suspect
He said the bookmakers had nearly been "knocked over" in the rush of punters wanting to place bets of hundreds of pounds on the actor.

William Hill decided to close the book until it could discover if he was going to be in the show.

Mr Sharpe said the bookmakers had been told by the EastEnders' office that Gareth Hunt would be taking part in the programme "in a couple of months' time".

But Dirty Dan Sullivan remains the prime suspect, according to the BBC News Online poll.

He was the clear favourite with 29% of the votes.

Phil Mitchell had plenty of enemies, however.

Dan Sullivan
Dan Sullivan is the fans' firm favourite

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

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

Phil's pregnant ex-girlfriend, Lisa Shaw, had already discovered that Phil had slept with her best friend Mel.

Ian Beale hates his former stepfather for the way he allowed him to go bankrupt without offering help.

Stallholder Mark Fowler was among those who disappeared just before the shooting.

But viewers will have to wait until early April to find out the closely guarded secret of who did it, said the programme's makers.

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See also:

01 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Soaps gunning for ratings
01 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Dirty Dan your favourite to pull trigger
25 Jan 01 | UK Politics
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