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banner Wednesday, 4 April, 2001, 16:15 GMT 17:15 UK
EastEnders 1-0 Barcelona

Thursday's Barcelona-Liverpool Uefa Cup semi-final has been put back 15 minutes so EastEnders fans can find out who shot Phil Mitchell. BBC Sport Online's Chris Charles wonders how TV bosses pulled it off.

And we interrupt this historic broadcast showing life on Mars to bring you the latest soap update...

Wouldn't happen, would it?

Er, don't bank on it.

After all, one of the biggest European matches in the football calendar has been delayed to accomodate the climax to an EastEnders storyline.

The fact that Liverpool are playing the first leg of their Uefa Cup semi-final in Barcelona makes the decision even more bizarre.

Are the whole of Spain - ex-pats accepted - really on tenterhooks to find out who shot Phil Mitchell?

Let's face it, if this were an Albert Square plot, everyone would dismiss it for being too far-fetched.

So how on earth did the BBC execs persuade the Barcelona bigwigs to put the kick-off back 15 minutes?

Actor Todd Carty (Mark Fowler)
Liverpool could be without Fowler....
Oh to be a fly on the wall for that conversation.


Hello, this is the BBC in London - we need you to postpone your football match on Thursday.


Yes, you see everybody in the UK is waiting to find out who shot Phil and we need an extra 15 minutes to give them the answer.

Someone shot Pheel? But why?

Well, he'd upset a lot of people you see and...

Si, it was a bad tackle in Euro 2000, but I thought you English were more civilised than that.

No, no - not Phil Neville, Phil Mitchell - bald chap with a beard.

Ah, like Fabien Barthez?

Yes, sort of. Anyway, Phil was shot, but he's all right now and he's out to avenge his attacker.

Si, si, so who is, how you say, in the frame?

Well, Lisa is the bookies' favourite, but Dan and Ian are also prime suspects.

Anybody else?

Well, Steve Owen is also high on the list and of course you can never rule out Mark Fowler.

Actor Martin Kemp (Steve Owen)
...and Owen
You mean, Owen and Fowler - the deadliest hitmen in England?

Well, I don't think they'd have been working together, they don't get along that well.

Ah yes, we have heard this. So what you are saying is, if we let the match start later, Owen and Fowler will not come to Spain?

Well, not exactly - but I suppose that's technically correct, yes.

OK, you have a deal. Adios, amigo.


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04 Apr 01 |  Sports Talk
Are soaps bigger than sport?
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