|Portrayed by||Oscar James|
|First appearance||Episode 4|
28 February 1985
|Last appearance||Episode 239|
28 May 1987
|Created by||Tony Holland and Julia Smith|
Tony Carpenter is a fictional character from the BBC soap opera EastEnders , played by Oscar James, from 28 February 1985 until 28 May 1987.
Happy-go-lucky Tony tries to carve himself a successful business and steady home for his family, but nothing he does is ever good enough for his nagging wife.
Trinidadian born Tony is married to his second wife, Hannah Carpenter (Sally Sagoe), with whom he has two children, Kelvin Carpenter (Paul J. Medford) and Cassie Carpenter (Delanie Forbes). However, Tony and Hannah are separated and Hannah is in a relationship with another man. Kelvin lives with Tony, while Cassie stays with Hannah.
Tony has various altercations with the local villain Nick Cotton (John Altman), and is understandably furious when he discovers that Nick has joined a racist organisation. After Nick taunts Kelvin about the colour of his skin, Tony teaches him a lesson, which at least manages to scare him out of spreading his racial hatred for a while.
In February 1985, Tony secures himself a job renovating The Queen Victoria public house and gives the unemployed Arthur Fowler (Bill Treacher) a job as his aid. It is whilst he is working here that Tony gains the interest of the married landlady Angie Watts (Anita Dobson). Angie has grown tired of her cheating husband, Den Watts (Leslie Grantham), and whilst he is on a holiday in Spain with his mistress, Angie seduces Tony and they embark on an affair. Tony takes the relationship seriously, but Angie is only using him to get back at Den and make him jealous. The affair is conducted in secret, but after Angie initiates a kiss in The Queen Vic with Tony, she is caught by her adoptive daughter, Sharon Watts (Letitia Dean). Angie is forced to use bribery to keep her daughter from informing her husband. Upon Den's return, Angie calls off the affair but it is not long before Sharon tells her father that Angie has been unfaithful. However, Den cares more about his reputation than her and tells her that he does not care about the affair, so long as it is done discreetly. Tony is very hurt by the whole ordeal, but he is even more concerned for his own safety, should Den find out that it was him his wife was seeing. Tony's identity is never disclosed to Den, though Den later works it out.
Later, Hannah arrives at Tony's house with the disturbing news that her new lover, Neville Agard (Gordon Case), had been beating both her and their daughter Cassie. Tony is furious and promptly confronts Neville, returning later with Hannah and Cassie's belongings and a cut lip. Tony and Hannah reunite and she and Cassie move in, however, Tony is confused when Hannah wants to live in the flat above Tony's instead of with him. Problems still persist, however, and Hannah regularly nags Tony and makes it clear to him that Walford is not good enough for her. Things reach a climax when Tony hits Mehmet Osman (Haluk Bilginer) the following year for making a pass at Hannah. Hannah is furious and cannot condone Tony's violent actions. Hannah subsequently decides that the marriage is over and she leaves Walford to live with her sister.
Tony spends the rest of the year doing odd-jobs and driving a car for Ali Osman's (Nejdet Salih) cab firm. He gets himself into trouble when he buys some stolen silverware from Nick, who later tries to blackmail him. Tony tires of life in Walford and a few months later he departs Albert Square for Trinidad, leaving Kelvin in charge of his property.
Tony Carpenter was one of the original twenty-three characters invented by the creators of EastEnders, Tony Holland and Julia Smith. Tony was originally intended to be named Alan, and his son Kelvin Carpenter was originally named Kevin. They were the first black characters to appear in the soap. Black and Asian characters were two ethnic minorities that had previously been under-represented in British soap before EastEnders aired. Holland and Smith knew that for the soap to succeed there needed to be a varied group of characters, so that several different sections of the audience had someone to identify with. Additionally, if the programme was to be realistic, it had to reflect the cross-section of society that actually existed in the real location. For these reasons, different sexes, ages, classes, religions and races were all included in the original character line-up. Both Holland and Smith had been at the forefront of the move towards 'integrated casting' in television and had encountered an array of ethnic diversities in the process. Even though the ethnic minority groups were deemed the hardest to research, Holland and Smith called upon their contacts to relay information about their origins and lifestyles and were then able to portray Walford's most recent immigrants more realistically.
Tony's original character outline as written by Smith and Holland appeared in an abridged form in their book, EastEnders: The Inside Story (In this passage, Tony will be referred to as Alan).
Alan's name was later changed to Tony following the development of the character of Ali Osman and Holland and Smith decided they couldn't have two male characters with such similar-sounding names.
Oscar James, an experienced television and theatre actor, was chosen to play the role. James was physically much bigger than they'd originally had in mind, however they felt that his interpretation of Tony would be expansive and get noticed. They also thought it was a nice idea for father and son to be not only different in ages, but different physical types as well. Storywise it was felt it would be possible to build on this and also give them different attitudes.
Tony's storylines mainly centred on his developing relationship with his son, and marital issues with his wife. Before the series began it was decided that Hannah (Tony's wife) plus their other child, would come back into Tony's life for the sake of the family - but not stay around too long because the neighbourhood would appal her. This was eventually recreated on-screen.
James had initially been full of praise for the way the team had chosen to depict a black family. However, shortly before he left the series in 1987, he controversially criticised EastEnders and the BBC for not promoting their black or other ethnic minority characters:
The powers that be do not think I am interesting enough. Is it because I am a member of an ethnic minority? How often do you see Paul J. Medford being publicised?...It's as though the BBC are playing us down. I can't believe the white majority of the public are against blacks being stars. They don't give a damn.
Tony Carpenter lasted in the show for two years and was the fourth of the original twenty three characters to leave the show after Saeed Jeffery, Andy O'Brien and Debbie Wilkins. Tony returned to Trinidad to search for his roots.
Dennis "Den" Watts is a fictional character from the BBC soap opera EastEnders, played by actor Leslie Grantham. He became well known for his tabloid nickname, "Dirty Den".
Sharon Watts is a fictional character from the BBC One soap opera EastEnders, played by Letitia Dean. Sharon is one of EastEnders' original characters conceptualised by creators Tony Holland and Julia Smith. She first appeared in the first episode broadcast on 19 February 1985 as the teenage adoptive daughter of pub landlords Den and Angie Watts. The character became prominent in the 1990s due to her becoming the landlady of The Queen Victoria public house, and her romantic pairings with brothers Grant and Phil Mitchell. In a storyline dubbed Sharongate, Sharon married to Grant, has an affair with Phil, climaxing in 1994 with Grant's discovery of the affair, which remains one of EastEnders' highest viewed episodes - the storyline was reinvented in 2018 when Sharon began an affair with Phil's young employee, Keanu Taylor. She was named the Best EastEnders character of all time by The Mirror in 2020.
Andy O'Brien is a fictional character from the BBC soap opera EastEnders, played by Ross Davidson. One of the original characters created for the series, Andy made his first appearance one month after the show first broadcast, in the 10th episode on 21 March 1985. Portrayed as altruistic and middle-classed, Andy and his girlfriend Debbie were an attempt to represent gentrification of the East End. Despite Davidson claiming that there had been plans for his character, Andy is the first regular character in EastEnders to be killed off. Davidson claimed this was due to an altercation between himself and Executive Producer and show creator, Julia Smith. He was killed in August 1986 when he was hit by an out of control lorry.
Angie Watts is a fictional character from the BBC soap opera EastEnders, played by Anita Dobson from the first episode of the series until 1988, when Dobson decided to leave, and the character was written out.
Vicki Fowler is a fictional character from the BBC soap opera EastEnders, played by Emma Herry from the character's birth in 1986 to 1988, Samantha Leigh Martin from 1988 to 1995, and Scarlett Alice Johnson from 2003 to 2004. She is the daughter of Michelle Fowler and Den Watts. The character is born in the serial, conceived in a controversial storyline about teenage pregnancy. Exploiting a whodunnit angle, at the time of the first showing, viewers were not initially told who was the father, and press interest in the fledgling show escalated as journalists attempted to guess. The audience finally discovered his identity in October 1985 in episode 66. Written by series co-creator/script-editor Tony Holland and directed by co-creator/producer Julia Smith, it was considered a landmark episode in the show's history. Early suspects were Ian Beale and Kelvin Carpenter, but then four possible suspects are seen leaving the Square early in the episode: Tony Carpenter, Ali Osman, Andy O'Brien, and Den Watts. As Michelle waits by their rendezvous point, a car pulls up and the fluffy white legs of the soap landlord's poodle Roly leap out of a car to give it all away: Den Watts is the father of Michelle's baby. After this storyline the programme started to appear in newspaper cartoons as it moved more and more into the public mainstream.
Michelle Fowler is a fictional character from the BBC soap opera EastEnders, played by Susan Tully from the first episode in 1985 until the character's departure in 1995. On 24 December 2016 Michelle returned after 21 years, with Jenna Russell taking over the role. In her first stint Michelle made some huge mistakes during her time in Albert Square mainly through having a habit of choosing the wrong men and her stubborn nature meant that she rarely accepted help or listened to good advice. Being determined and outspoken, she has never been afraid to defend herself or her beliefs. This is impacted by her close friendship with local resident Sharon Watts, which further contributes to Sharon's adopted father Den getting Michelle pregnant - which results in her giving birth to her and Den's daughter, Vicki.
Sue Osman is a fictional character from the BBC soap opera EastEnders, played by Sandy Ratcliff. She is one of the serial's original characters, appearing in its first episode on 19 February 1985 and departing on-screen in May 1989. Created by Tony Holland and Julia Smith, Sue is portrayed as argumentative, insecure and tragic. A pivotal storyline in the character's narrative is the cot-death of her son, which was one of the show's first controversial plots. During her four years on-screen, the character contends with a phantom pregnancy, marital breakdown and finally insanity. Ratcliff left the role in 1989.
Ali Osman is a fictional character from the BBC soap opera EastEnders, played by Nejdet Salih. He was a member of the original EastEnders cast, appearing in the first episode on 19 February 1985. He remained with the show for nearly five years afterwards, making his last appearance on 10 October 1989. Ali was scripted as happy-go-lucky, which was in stark contrast to his highly strung wife, Sue. Central to his storylines were his penchant for gambling, his tempestuous marriage, and the loss of his son to cot death, which was one of the first controversial storylines covered by the soap. He was created by Julia Smith and Tony Holland, the creators of EastEnders.
Kelvin Carpenter is a fictional character from the BBC soap opera EastEnders, played by Paul J. Medford from 12 March 1985 to 3 September 1987.
Naima Jeffery is a fictional character from the BBC soap opera EastEnders, played by Shreela Ghosh from 19 February 1985 to 19 November 1987.
Saeed Jeffery is a fictional character from the BBC soap opera EastEnders, played by Andrew Johnson from 19 February to 26 December 1985.
Mehmet Osman is a fictional character from the BBC soap opera EastEnders, played by Haluk Bilginer. Mehmet is portrayed as a charmer, rogue and a serial womaniser, and makes recurring appearances in EastEnders from 1985 to 1987, and then regularly until 1989.
The Banned are a fictional band in the BBC soap opera EastEnders. The storyline first aired in 1986 and although it was considered to be a failure on-screen, it nevertheless became a successful part of the serial's extensive merchandising industry that year, as it spawned two hit singles in the UK Music Charts.
Carmel Jackson is a fictional character from the BBC soap opera EastEnders, played by Judith Jacob from 5 June 1986 to 24 August 1989. Carmel, a health visitor, was initially introduced in a recurring, minor role in 1986, when she is credited as "health visitor". Producers saw potential in the character, and script writers were asked to develop more prominent storylines, and Carmel became a regular character. She is portrayed as a well-meaning, caring individual who is forever getting everyone's problems dumped on her. She is featured in storylines about domestic violence and various family and career upsets. Jacob remained in the role until 1989, when she opted to leave. Off-screen, the character was the subject of criticism regarding the portrayal of her profession from the Health Visitors Association.
Roly is a fictional dog from the BBC soap opera EastEnders. Roly is an apricot coloured Standard Poodle, who appears in the first episode of the programme on 19 February 1985 and remained in the show until 19 October 1993.
Julie Cooper is a fictional character from the BBC soap opera, EastEnders, played by Louise Plowright from 1989–1990. The character was one of Mike Gibbon's introductions, but she was axed in 1990 at the start of Michael Ferguson's reign as executive producer. Julie is portrayed as a bubbly, big haired Salford girl, who has a hungry appetite for men.
Paul Priestly is a fictional character from the BBC soap opera, EastEnders, played by Mark Thrippleton, from 20 April 1989 to 1 March 1990.