EastEnders' Shirley Carter goes to jail like her character in TV's Bad Girls
EastEnders fans have voiced their sympathy for character Shirley Carter who has been jailed instead of her son, Mick.
In an emotional car scene on Thursday night, Mick (Danny Dyer) prepared himself for his apparently inevitable fate, but Shirley (Linda Henry) insisted on a new plan.
The drama came after Aunt Babe's scheme of illegally selling alcohol at the Queen Vic pub.
As Mick sobbed behind the wheel, his mother calmly told him: "With a bit of luck it might not even go to court, it's my fault. I knew Babe was selling the booze and you didn't have a clue.
"That's why I'm finally stepping up Mick. I'm not asking you, I'm telling you son. I'm going to get you out of this mess. Whether you like it or not."
The second of the two episodes broadcast on BBC One then ended with a close-up of Shirley, sitting in a cell.
In a Twitter post with a shocked face emoji, one viewer wrote: "Shirley gone to prison What the hell #EastEnders."
Another wrote: "Poor Shirley #Eastenders hope she will be ok," while another added: "Shirley you're breaking my heart #eastenders"
Shirley's action also meant that the Carter family could avoid a hefty round of debt that could have led to bankruptcy.
But while it may have been a first jail stint for Shirley, other viewers joked that it wasn't a first for Henry, who is also well known for playing a central character in prison drama Bad Girls.
She played long-standing inmate Yvonne Atkins in the show, which ran from 1999 to 2006.
One viewer wrote: "Just heard that Shirley from #EastEnders has gone to prison for 3 months. She must have been a 'bad girl'."
Another commented: "Shirley taking the rap for Mick in #eastenders. Its ok she's got previous experience of prison life #badgirls."
Another added: "Oh it was like Bad Girls all over again end of that episode! #Eastenders @bbceastenders #Shirley"