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Lucy Benjamin, aka Lisa Shaw
talks about the twists and turns
 real 56k

Matt Wells, The Guardian
"One of the greatest TV soap moments"
 real 56k

Soap critic Tina Baker
"Excellent acting from Steve McFadden and Lucy Benjamin"
 real 56k

Friday, 6 April, 2001, 09:57 GMT 10:57 UK
Soap climax watched by 20m
Steve McFadden and Lucy Benjamin
Phil Mitchell confronts Lisa on EastEnders on Thursday
Almost 20 million viewers saw Lisa Shaw unmasked as Phil Mitchell's would-be assassin in BBC One soap EastEnders, according to unofficial audience figures.

The overnight ratings show an average of 17.9 million people saw the 40-minute long episode on Thursday.

But the ratings peaked almost halfway through at 19.8 million people - 74.5% of the viewing public - as Lisa, played by Lucy Benjamin, was confronted by ex-boyfriend Phil (Steve McFadden).

The National Grid also reported that the end of the episode created the third largest power surge on record.

Lucy Benjamin
A distraught Lisa Shaw played by actress Lucy Benjamin

Lucy Benjamin admitted on BBC One's Breakfast News it was difficult keeping the secret.

"I have to confess I did tell my mum. I wasn't meant to but I had to get it off my chest," she revealed.

The rest of the cast were kept in the dark so as to ensure the plot did not leak out.

Benjamin added: "I asked them last night after the episode was shown if they did know and apparently nobody knew for definite.

"I think they had their suspicions but nobody knew.

"They were very good to me. If they did have me as their number one suspect, no-one pressured me to tell the truth."

Only the penalty shoot-out between England and Germany in the 1990 World Cup semi-finals and the 1984 climax of the Thorn Birds drama in caused a bigger increase in electricity demand, the National Grid said.

Shaw was the odds on favourite at 8-11 in betting leading up to Thursday's broadcast.

Viewers who betted correctly will not get a pay out until a conviction for the shooting is made, something that could be affected by yet another plot twist.

After the revelation Shaw and Mitchell traded insults in a dramatic row with Shaw admitting that she enjoyed shooting the ruthless Mitchell.

But Shaw ended up telling Mitchell that she still loved him and wanted to get back with him.

Cliff-hanger

The EastEnders storyline has gripped viewers since the former Queen Victoria landlord was gunned down outside his Albert Square home five weeks ago.

In Tuesday's episode, viewers saw Phil, played by Steve McFadden, discharge himself from hospital to confront his would-be assassin.

Thursday's cliffhanger was eagerly awaited. A Tesco store in Neath Abbey even went as far as installing television sets in the aisles so that shopping EastEnders fans would not miss the moment.

Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden)
Going down: Phil's shooting attracted 17 million viewers
Thousands of bets were placed by punters who thought they knew the attacker's identity.

The BBC News Online poll had put Dirty Dan as the clear favourite to have pulled the trigger, with 29% of the votes.

The five main suspects were Steve Owen (Martin Kemp), Dan Sullivan (Craig Fairbrass), Mark Fowler (Todd Carty), Lisa Shaw (Lucy Benjamin) and Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt).

Owen, Fowler and Beale also featured heavily in Thursday's episode, fueling questions as to their involvement in the shooting.

All were exonerated, but the programme ended with Mitchell vowing to "get" Owen and Sullivan.

The BBC had negotiated a delayed kick-off for a European football match to enable Thursday's special 40-minute episode of EastEnders.

The start of the Uefa Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Barcelona from the Nou Camp stadium began at 2010BST.

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See also:

06 Apr 01 | TV and Radio
EastEnders' red herrings
06 Apr 01 | Reviews
EastEnders ends our misery
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Critics square up over EastEnders
05 Apr 01 | UK
In a lather over soaps
04 Apr 01 | TV and Radio
Match delayed for EastEnders climax
05 Apr 01 | TV and Radio
The real impact of Phil's shooting
05 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Dirty Dan your favourite to pull trigger
07 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Hunt 'ruled out' of EastEnders shooting
01 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Soaps gunning for ratings
16 Mar 01 | TV and Radio
Thief steals EastEnders scripts
22 Mar 01 | TV and Radio
The ups and downs of TV ratings
05 Apr 01 | TV and Radio
EastEnders in the frame
05 Apr 01 | Entertainment
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