Janine Butcher in EastEnders has made herself at home behind the bar at the Queen Vic, and got her feet under the table at the car lot – just like her dad, Frank Butcher, did when he ruled the Square many years ago.
During her time in Walford, Daddy’s girl Janine’s killed two of her four husbands, conspired to cheat the Mitchells out of the pub, run over and killed Ronnie Mitchell’s long-lost daughter, been agoraphobic, and turned to prostitution.
We’re not completely sure dad Frank would be as proud of her as she thinks.
So what is Janine’s story?
Janine Butcher’s arrival in EastEnders
Janine came to live in Albert Square with dad Frank, brother Ricky and sister Diane. Her other sister, Clare, lived away from Walford. Janine was trouble from the start, lying, stealing and causing trouble for stepmum Pat.
But she grew to love Pat – of course! – and even stayed with her when Frank had a breakdown and disappeared. When Frank came home, Janine moved to Manchester to be with him.
Janine Butcher in EastEnders v Peggy Mitchell
In 1999, Janine returned to the Square to live with her dad and his new wife, Peggy. Predictably, she didn’t like Peggy and tried to break up her dad’s new marriage. And when he and Peggy broke up, Frank abandoned Janine.
She turned to Terry Raymond as a substitute father figure and the pair started a business together. But when things went wrong, Janine’s life went downhill fast.
Forced into prostitution thanks to her cocaine habit, Janine slept with Ian Beale for money and was attacked by his wife, Laura. She became agoraphobic and wouldn’t leave the house, resorting to eating dog food in shocking scenes.
But thanks to help from Billy Mitchell, Janine got back on her feet.
Murdering husband number one
Janine Butcher in EastEnders started a romance with Barry Evans, while having an affair with Paul Trueman who she did really love. She thought Barry had a life-threatening heart condition so she accepted his proposal assuming she would soon inherit his empire.
But when she found out it had been a false alarm, after the wedding, Janine pushed Barry down a cliff!
Though she got away with murder that time, she later stood trial for killing Laura Beale. Actually, she was innocent of that murder, but Janine had managed to annoy everyone so much that no one would speak up for her.
She got released when Pat eventually admitted Janine had been with her when Laura died, but Janine’s relationship with her beloved dad was over – she ignored him outside the court room and left Walford for good.
How did Frank die in EastEnders?
In 2002 Frank faked his death in a car accident in Spain.
Peggy Mitchell travelled to the funeral, but soon discovered he wasn’t dead and it was all, in fact, a scam.
However, in March 2008, Diane and Ricky revealed that Frank had died for real at Diane’s home in France. He had been suffering throat cancer.
His funeral was held on-screen on April 1, 2008 and it signalled the return of Janine.
In real life, actor Mike Reid, who played Frank, had died nine months earlier in 2007 of a heart attack at his villa in Spain.
Janine as Judith Bernstein
When she came back to scatter Frank’s ashes, Pat and Ricky were shocked when they discovered Janine had been posing as a Jewish orphan named Judith Bernstein in order to marry a wealthy widow. They tracked her down to the synagogue where she and David were saying their vows and exposed her scam.
David had a heart attack and died – not strictly Janine’s fault, that time – and penniless Ms Butcher returned to Walford where she ran over Danielle Jones and killed her. Though Danielle’s mother, Ronnie Mitchell, eventually forgave Janine, it was the beginning of a feud between the families.
Who killed Archie?
Janine’s talent for scams reached new heights when she teamed up with evil Archie to get the Queen Vic from the Mitchells. She talked Sam Mitchell into breaking her bail conditions, leaving the family in dire financial straits. Ian Beale gave them a loan, and Janine slept with him then blackmailed him into selling the loan to Archie.
With Archie taking control of the pub, Janine decided he was her new target! She was sleeping with Ryan Molloy but started a relationship with Archie and the pair got engaged. But Archie realised what was going on and turfed Janine out into the street on Christmas Day, shortly before he met a sorry end.
Janine was one of the top suspects in the ‘who killed Archie’ mystery, but she was never charged and Stacey Slater was the real culprit.
Trying to murder husband number three
Ryan and Janine tied the knot but she was furious when she discovered he was the father of Stacey’s baby, Lily. Their relationship went from bad to worse and Janine decided to take killer action.
She began poisoning Ryan, but though he was ill he didn’t die. Desperate, Janine stabbed herself and made it look like Stacey had done it. And when she was in hospital, Ryan tried to kill her though he was interrupted by Pat and Ricky arriving. What a messy romance, eh?
Murdering husband number four
But Ryan was nothing compared with Michael Moon. The murkiest member of the Moon clan seduced Janine with his charm but he was a scammer too and he really wanted Janine’s money – inherited from her rich grandmother, Lydia.
Janine got pregnant and the pair tied the knot. She went into labour on their wedding day, and gave birth to baby Scarlett.
Not ready to be a mum, Janine left the tot with Michael and left – but not before she cleverly transferred all her businesses and money into another name so her new husband couldn’t get his mitts on them. Never con a con-artist!
What followed was a dramatic tussle for custody of Scarlett, with poor sweet Alice Branning dragged into the mess.
Michael was revealed to be even more evil than anyone imagined, and ended up dead on the kitchen floor having been stabbed by Alice, and finished off by Janine. Though, obvs, it was Alice who got the blame (at first – Janine escaped justice again at the last minute!).
Return to Walford
Judith Bernstein made a brief return when Janine was masquerading as a doctor earlier this year, but it was Ms Butcher herself who came back to Walford.
She’s channeling her dad’s spirit by getting behind the bar in The Vic, where Frank worked with Peggy, and being involved in the car lot, which Frank ran for years. But we’re not entirely sure she’s doing things exactly as her dad would have wanted. What do you think?
EastEnders usually airs Mondays at 8.05pm, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7.35pm and Fridays at 8.30pm on BBC One.
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