My life was a car crash – EastEnders saved me, now I’ve taken a memento from Queen Vic, says Danny Dyer before soap exit

Actor Danny Dyer is on a deeply personal journey, trying to discover why, at 22, he was taken under the wing of the late, great playwright Harold Pinter, the making of him as a man - and a stage actor. He relives the audition where they met, Dyer relaxed because he had no idea who the great man was. He’d grown up on the big screen in splashy, trashy films, but had never set foot on a stage or had an acting lesson. Harold Pinter saw a talent that the boy himself was unaware of. Twenty years on, the need to know more about his friend has Danny stepping back into Cold War Britain to discover the source of the darkness in Pinter’s plays. With the help of fellow actors including Auriol Smith and Kenneth Cranham, Danny learns about repertory theatre, the meaning of the famous Pinter Pause – and of forgiveness, apologising to fellow cast-member Keith Allen for the time when, after bingeing on drugs, he forgot his lines on Broadway in a Pinter play. Starkly frank and deeply emotional, this film shows Dyer in a new light and uncovers the background to the complex plays of a literary genius.

EASTENDERS geezer Danny Dyer is calling time on his nine years as Queen Vic guv’nor Mick Carter – but not before swiping a stool from the bar.

The Cockney hardman will bow out in an explosive Christmas Day special, after 1,150 episodes and 117 cliff-hangers to the sound of the BBC soap’s famed “doof-doof” drum roll.

Danny Dyer is calling time on his nine years as Queen Vic guv’nor Mick Carter

Danny with co-stars Kellie Bright, left, who plays Linda Carter, and Charlie Brooks, right, who plays Janine Butcher

Danny has spoken openly about his struggle with drink and drugs

But Danny, 45, has revealed how shooting his final scenes left him so proper gutted, mate, that he had to half-inch a piece of the Albert Square pub for old times’ sake.

He admits: “I took a stool out of the Vic. I had it in my dressing room for years so I took it with me.”

He blubbed like a softie, though, as he said his farewells to fellow cast at a leaving bash organised by close pal Kellie Bright, who played his screen wife Linda.

Danny said: “A part of me just wanted to duck out because it was emotional for me. I did a little speech. There were a lot of tears and there was a trailer of the best bits.

“It would have been easier to go out the back door. But Kellie organised something proper and I’m glad we did it. I got my Albert Square board and they bought me a sign.”

The rude sign — spelling out, “Shoot the c**t” — was never going to make Danny blush, famed as he is for his effin’ and blindin’.

But he revealed it was an “in” joke from his TV family which has gone down a whole lot less well with his real-life wife, Jo Mas.

Danny explains of his years on set: “Basically, I would say, ‘Shall we shoot the c**t?’ — meaning the scene. I know it is unpalatable but it is something I would say.

“Anyway, I’ve had some issues with my wife about hanging this neon sign in the house The missus ain’t having it. It is in the office at the moment.”

Jokes aside, saying ta-ra to Albert Square has been tough.

Danny, who first pitched up there in December 2013, says of his exit: “I was questioning if I had made the right decision.

“It is very emotional for me. I am very attached to this show.

“It has been a third of my career, I worked it out — 30 years I have been knocking about in this industry and I have been on this show nearly ten.

“So to make the decision I made, I did not make it lightly because it is a huge job to walk away from. I thought long and hard about it.”

Danny first found fame as a teenager aged 16 and landed his first role in an episode of drama Prime Suspect in 1993.

He got his film breakthrough in Human Traffic in 1999 and went on to earn a reputation as a film hard man playing roles in films including The Football Factory in 2004 and The Business in 2005.

Despite his on-screen successes, which included successful stints treading the boards in the West End, Danny says his life started to go off the rails.

He has spoken openly about his struggle with drink and drugs and admitted to cheating on Joanne, with whom he shares daughters Dani, 26, and Sunnie, 15, and nine-year-old son, Arty.

Danny credits EastEnders with helping him turn his life around.

He was offered the job as Queen Vic landlord Mick in 2013 by the then EastEnders boss Dominic Treadwell Collins and said the role pulled him out of the abyss.

Danny with real-life wife Joanne Mas

Danny with daughter Dani

“I didn’t think I would last nine years,” admits Danny.

“When I came into this show I was a f***ing car crash.

“I can’t believe I got given a shot.

“My career was on its f***ing arse. I was going to nightclubs and waving off of balconies and saying hello to people to pay my f***ing mortgage.

“I had made a lot of bad decisions and I was in a bad place – and Dominic Treadwell Collins took a risk on me.”

As Mick, Danny has taken on a number of hard hitting storylines which won him three National Television Awards for Serial Drama Performance in 2015, 2016 and 2019.

During his time on the BBC soap, his character has been seen hitting rock bottom after the rape of his wife Linda, to opening up about harrowing childhood sexual abuse.

It is the impact of the abuse on Mick’s mental health that feeds into his explosive exit scene which will air on Christmas Day.

Fans of the show will watch as the shocking truth about Linda’s car accident and Mick’s now wife Janine’s involvement comes to pass – with Mick chasing Janine out of Albert Square.

Danny is unable to speak too much about the dramatic hour-long special but teases: “I wanted it to be a fitting end and hopefully it is.

“It is the end of an era.”

Danny says his friendship with Kellie, 46, is one of the greatest things to come out of his time on EastEnders.

Danny won three National Television Awards for Serial Drama Performance in 2015, 2016 and 2019

The Carter family, from left: Linda (Kellie Bright), Mick (Danny Dyer), Johnny (Sam Strike), Nancy (Maddy Hill)

The pair were cast without getting the chance to meet – or run lines – before their first ever scenes.

Danny explains: “We came in together and we were on trial. “A new family taking over the Vic, and we got our heads down and we drew on our experience.

“We came in with Maddie Hill and Sam Strike, and Lady Di the bulldog.

“It’s a credit to Dominic. He got it right, he trusted us and he let us roll with it.

“We loved it, we loved the material and we loved each other – in a friend’s way, obviously. But we had our era – and I am so proud of that era we had.

“It is sad to think, all good things come to an end obviously, but I did appreciate all those years we had. We did some beautiful work.

“The show has to change and move on.”

Kellie speaks just as movingly about Danny when recalling how they went from being complete strangers to close friends.

She says: “It really is a life shared. “Nine years playing husband and wife is almost like nine years being husband and wife on a show like EastEnders because you do see this person daily.

“And they go through all your real life events with you.

“Danny was at my wedding, he has gone through IVF with me, there is stuff we have shared – it makes saying goodbye very hard.”

Danny adds: “We relied on each other really intensely and we knew everything about each other.”

Danny got his film breakthrough in Human Traffic in 1999

Danny earned a reputation as a film hard man in The Football Factory in 2004

After watching their exit scene together for the first time at a screening in central London, Kellie admits she found it hard to cope knowing Danny was leaving.

She says: “I didn’t do very well. “I cried from July until November when he left.

“I was a bit relieved because I had no tears left.”

Danny however admits the hardest thing about watching was realised how much he had changed, adding: “F*** me do you see yourself age. That’s the thing about being on a soap.

“It is awful.”

He is now waiting with bated breath to see what EastEnders viewers and his fans think of his climatic exit – which will undoubtedly leave everyone on the edge of their seats.

When asked if he thinks they will like what they see, Danny laughs: “I hope so!

“You can’t please everyone. You know what the f***ers are like.”

  • EastEnders’ Christmas Day hour long special airs on BBC One and iPlayer on December 25 at 9:25pm.



Mick was sexually abused as a child and faced abuser Kay Lewis

In 2019 Mick starts struggling – powerful episodes include him calling The Samaritans when he hits rock bottom.

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Mick pulled through after being gunned down by Callum ‘Halfway’ Highway

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The shocking 2014 episode went down in history as Mick learnt Shirley’s true identity.


Mick turned superman when he saved Linda from drowning in the Thames in 2020

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Mick’s wife Linda was attacked by his half-brother Dean Wicks in a harrowing rape storyline

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At the NTAs Danny said that Kellie Bright, who plays Linda, deserved the award more.