Belfast Telegraph

Friday 30 January 2015

Torch tops the bill in EastEnders

Billy Mitchell (Perry Fenwick) carried the Olympic Torch through Walford
Billy Mitchell (Perry Fenwick) carried the Olympic Torch through Walford

The Olympic Torch made an early visit to E20 as the flame took centre stage in an episode of EastEnders.

Billy Mitchell, played by Perry Fenwick, carried the torch through the streets of Walford during an eight-minute live section of the popular BBC soap.

The fictional area of East London, in reality a set at Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire, has the postcode E20, which is also the postcode for the real Olympic Village in Stratford.

Perry, dressed as an official torchbearer - minus his trainers after he was sent a pair of bunny slippers instead - launched the live insert by winking at the camera and saying: "Here we go!"

He was then looking visibly nervous before taking over the flame and running his 300 metres, flanked by the usual police guard for the torchbearer.

His route took him past some of the most famous landmarks in the soap, including The Queen Vic, cheered on by regular cast members including Shane Richie and Jessie Wallace, who play Alfie Moon and Kat Slater. A cast of around 450 extras was also on the set acting as the crowd.

At the end of his stint he handed over the flame before posing for photographers, telling them: "It's Billy Mitchell, 39, single and open to offers."

Nineteen cameras on the set captured the run, with the cast practising the section over the weekend.

There were two episodes of the soap tonight, with viewers earlier seeing Billy struggle to get back to Walford on time, after becoming trapped on a tube train.

Perhaps predictably, the torch was not the only excitement happening. Billy's 16-year-old granddaughter Lola Pearce, played by Danielle Harold, went into labour and gave birth at the end of the episode, with Billy rushing from carrying the torch to be at her side.

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