EastEnders welcomed Woody Woodward to Walford this week (all rise for Lee Ryan!), new bar manager at the Queen Vic. Running one of Soapland's most famous pubs is a pretty cushy job – you're at the heart of Albert Square and get all the best plots, as much-loved landlords and ladies like Mick and Linda Carter, Peggy Mitchell, Kat and Alfie Moon, and Den and Angie Watts have previously proved.
But how will Woody fare? Will he join the hallowed ranks of those aforementioned soap icons? Or join that other, less prestigious club of characters you'd forgotten ran the legendary boozer? Forget your favourites, we're here to remind you of the less-feted characters who were once in charge of E20's liveliest drinking establishment…
1. Eddie Royle
Solid but unexciting ex-copper Eddie was landlord for about a year way, way back in the early '90s. His history in the police force didn't exactly endear him to his punters (many of whom had found themselves on the wrong side of the law a few times), and a rivalry with grunting Grant Mitchell over the affections of Sharon Watts made his brief tenure behind the famous bar pretty prickly.
Eddie had to wait until he was killed off to be given a decent storyline when, in 1991, he was stabbed to death out in the Square sparking a whodunit. It was Dot's no-good son Nick Cotton, if you're interested (because back then it was always Nick Cotton).
2. Dan Sullivan
There was more to Dirty Dan than just bedding both Carol and Bianca Jackson: the hunky hardman famously bought Grant Mitchell's share of the Vic when he left in 1999 for the princely sum of a fiver, making co-owners Peggy and Frank Butcher's lives a living hell.
Phil felt guilty as he'd been responsible for Dan getting his hands on the hostelry in the first place, having allowed the cheap sale to spite mum Peggy during one of their many fall-outs, so he plotted to reclaim the pub and won the Mitchell brothers' share back from Dan in a card game – smugly refunding Mr Sullivan's £5.
3. Steve Owen
Suave Steve was secretly Sharon's sleeping business partner when she sensationally bought the Vic back off Peggy in 2001 (yes, the "'Allo Peggy, bet you never thought you'd see me again..." era). But he never fully staked his claim by ringing that bell and shouting "Time gentleman, please!" as he'd only stumped up some cash to help Shazza out knowing it would annoy arch enemy Phil.
Pity, as Steve would've made a brilliant proper landlord. Mr Owen was forced to sell his shares back to Phil as ransom for wife Mel when she was kidnapped by Dan Sullivan (keeping up?) as revenge for Phil evicting him from the pub.
4. Chrissie Watts
Curly-haired killer Chrissie was big news during her reign as Queen of the Vic in 2005, but barely gets a mention these days. Her greatest claim to fame was finishing off husband Dirty Den Watts once and for all with Pauline Fowler's doggy doorstop. Having survived being shot in 1989, Den had spent 14 years hiding out in Spain, where he met and married feisty Chrissie, but the relationship collapsed due to his serial infidelity.
When Den rose from the dead and returned to Walford to seize his beloved Vic back, Chrissie followed him and they gave things another go – but after one affair too many she flipped and murdered him, burying the body in the pub cellar.
The whole time Den was getting under her feet, glamorous and gleefully manipulative Chrissie actually made a cracking landlady, but it couldn't last and she was sent down for doing in the pub's most famous boss. Surely it's time we caught up with her again? Imagine if she'd been Shirley's cellmate inside…
5. Ian Beale
Yep, you read that right, Ian Beale once owned the Queen Vic. Well, sort of… When Den's body was dug up by Sam Mitchell, a panicking Chrissie planned to do a runner from Walford and hastily sold the boozer to Ian. Unfortunately Mr Beale never got to lord it over the locals as Chrissie had forged Den's signature on the paperwork when she claimed he'd transferred the Vic to her when he "left town" (ie got thrown in the basement and covered in concrete), so the document Ian signed was declared null and void.
What a lucky escape. We don't even want to imagine what one of Ian Beale's theme nights would've been like (we're still recovering from Sylvie's "oriental" event *shudders*).
6. Janine Butcher
Mean Janine, by default, was in charge of the Vic for a few precious hours at Christmas 2009. Engaged to evil Archie Mitchell at the time, the poisonous pair successfully schemed to steal the pub from Peggy and Phil, having blackmailed Ian Beale to sell them a loan he'd given to Phil to secure the Vic for Sam's bail money for her part in Den's murder (him again!).
But no sooner had Janine started practising saying "Gerroutta my pub!" in her best Peggy voice, cruel Archie turned the tables on his fiendish fiancée by exposing her and lover Ryan Malloy's plan to double cross him out of his cash.
A few hours later Archie was dead, having been bludgeoned by a snowglobe care of Stacey Slater. Anyone else beginning to think running the Queen Vic is more of a curse than a blessing…?
Digital Spy Soap Scoop video – hit play below for all the latest EastEnders gossip, as Lee Ryan's character Woody makes his mark and troublesome Fi Browning arrives.
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