EastEnders fans have been left reeling by the news of Danny Dyer’s shock departure.
Last night, the Mirror exclusively broke the news that 44-year-old Danny is leaving Albert Square for good after being poached by Sky.
The new deal will allow Danny to get his teeth into a variety of roles and add upwards of thousands of pounds to the £1million pay cheque he currently takes home as part of his BBC contract.
The end of Queen Vic landlord Mick Carter’s journey will be a huge blow to the EastEnders team, with the soap suffering a decline in viewing figures in recent years and morale said to be an ‘all time low.’
BBC / Kieron McCarron/Jack Barnes)
Danny is said to have been grappling with the decision to leave for years before finally deciding to make his exit.
“It hasn’t been easy to walk away, BBC bosses have been desperate to keep him,” a source told the Mirror. “But he’s been insistent and when Sky approached they gave him an offer he couldn’t refuse. It’s a new chapter for Dan and he’s over the moon”
While Danny is delighted, the news has gone down l ess well with fans of the show who have come to hold a special place for landlord Mick in their hearts and shown their appreciation by voting him for an endless stream of awards and accolades during his tenure with the soap.
We take a look back at the hidden drama that inspired the move…
Dreams of ‘cracking America’
Doug Peters/EMPICS Entertainment)
Danny has made no secret of the fact he’d love to make it big in America.
The actor made the admission in conversation with daughter Dani Dyer on podcast Sorted with the Dyers, as he shared his dream to make a name for himself across the pond.
Last year, Danny told his eldest daughter he would “still like to have a go at America.”
“Why the f**k not?” he asked. “Yes, I am 44 and I’ve got a pair of t*ts,” he joked.
“I’d bring a little documentary crew with me and film the whole thing. And film the failures,” he teased.
He was also caught on camera hinting to fans that he was ready to leave the gruelling world of soaps behind to get back in
When asked when he was releasing another movie, the Football Factory star replied: “F***ing tell me about it.”
The BBC pay cheque
Dave Benett/Getty Images)
Danny was offered a role in EastEnders back in 2009 but said he would not consider joining the cast until he was ‘fat, bald and fifty.’
Having joined the cast of EastEnders in 2013 and going on to become of their best loved-stars, the BBC listed Danny’s annual salary as £200,000- £249,999.
His new deal with Sky is rumoured to be six figures, which is actually less than the £1million deal he is now said to have with the BBC.
However, the Beeb’s so-called ‘golden handcuff’ agreement, prevents Danny from appearing on rival channels or dipping his toe into new projects.
“Danny has offers coming in left right and centre, and a lot of the things he has wanted to do he can’t because EastEnders have such strict rules about what he can and can’t do,” a source told The Mirror.
Uncertainty and low ratings
In November, it was reported that EastEnders boss Jon Sen was to leave the soap after just three years
The departure came amid a slump in ratings for the soap.
In October it was revealed that a Monday night episode of quiz show Only Connect beat EastEnders in the ratings, with the serial only attracting 2.9million.
In July the show slumped to its lowest ever figures since it launched in 1985, with only 1.7million people tuning in to catch up on the latest goings on Albert Square.
BBC drama boss Piers Wenger defended the decline as he blamed inconsistent scheduling patterns for viewers switching off.
Piers explained in October that the soap was being scheduled for ‘off-junction’ times, such as 8:05pm or 7:35pm.
“It being scheduled off-junction and it not being the full half-hour has impacted its audience,” he explained.
“But we are very focused on getting the show back into its usual slot, and its usual duration, and making sure it’s delivering,” he promised.
EastEnders episodes had been considerably shorter in length after the show returned following its Covid-19 production break.
Schedule ‘burn out’
Danny once candidly admitted that he found the EastEnders schedule so draining he would use IV booster drips to revitalise his energy levels.
When rumours swirled he was hesitating to sign another contract with the soap in 2020, Danny was caught on camera telling fans: “This takes up my life, this does. I ain’t signed yet. I’m meant to sign in October but I might elbow it.”
In 2020 he took a break from the soap after feeling ‘exhausted.’
He told the Sunday Mirror: “I did a lot last year and I burned myself out a little bit.”
Disagreement with bosses?
During a candid Twitter Q&A with fans in 2019, Danny made it clear the only way he would be leaving EastEnders is if bosses wanted him gone.
“I ain’t goin’ nowhere,” he vowed.
“Unfortunately, it’s not really my decision to make. It’s the powers that be. As long as they want Mick around, and as long as Mick’s involved in storylines that are inspiring and stuff that I really enjoy playing, and I’ve got my Carter little mob around me, I ain’t goin’ nowhere, baby!
“It’s a great job, very grateful for it! As long as they want me, I’m here!”
Danny also said he loved working with Kellie Bright, who plays his onscreen wife Linda Carter.
“It’s interesting with Kellie – we’ve grown together within the show as characters, as human beings so I have the closest connection with her. We love playing Mick and Linda – it’s a beautiful and complex relationship.
“Getting to work with a very, very good friend of mine every day is a blessing. We’re always rooting for each other. We’ve got each others’ backs which is important in this industry,” he added.
Danny has previously admitted his wife Jo Mas has ‘resented’ his huge fame.
During an episode of his Sorted with the Dyers podcast, Danny said his wife had given up her own dreams and career in order to see him fulfil his ambition to become an actor.
“She sacrificed a lot for me. The idea that I was going to be an actor, coming from where I come from, I didn’t stand a chance,” he explained.
He said recently that the mother of his three kids was already planning his retirement.
“We want to go to India and Cuba. We want to do it all,” he said. “We have been going on wellbeing retreats. We do vinyasa, healing, drink lots of ginger, vegan food. We are full time yogis.
Danny has also shared that he was too scared to try and move to America when his kids were young.
He told daughter Dani: “I did want to do the America thing, but that would’ve meant upping sticks. Selling up, taking all of you misfits with me.
“The risk was far too great. Because if you sell up and go out there and if you don’t do it you’re f***ed. You are going back with your tail between your legs skint,” Danny added.
When will Mick Carter leave?
The circumstances surrounding Danny’s exit have yet to be revealed.
Scriptwriters will now be putting their heads together to come up with the perfect ending for Mick, who has been at the heart of some of the soap’s biggest storylines over the last nine years.
In more recent episodes, Mick has been seen fighting off the attentions of scheming Janine Butcher, played by Charlie Brookes.
Confirming reports about Danny’s exit, a BBC spokesperson said: “Danny will be leaving EastEnders when his contract comes to an end later this year.
“Danny has made Mick Carter an iconic character which we shall always be grateful for, however we won’t be saying goodbye just yet as there’s still quite some time – and plenty of explosive drama for Mick – to come before he departs Walford.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.