Billy Mitchell is a fictional character from the BBCsoap operaEastEnders, played by Perry Fenwick, who made his first appearance on 2 November 1998. Billy was originally introduced by producer Matthew Robinson as a guest character, as part facilitating the introduction of Jamie Mitchell (Jack Ryder) to the show. Early on, Billy was Jamie’s abusive uncle and guardian – which results in Jamie being taken away from Billy by his relative Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden). The character was then brought back to the serial on 2 August 1999 and Fenwick was offered a longer-term contract, and Billy ended up becoming a regular character. Frequently portrayed as a small-time criminal, Billy is a luckless resident of Albert Square who often struggles financially. His most prominent storylines include two failed marriages and having a daughter born with Down syndrome. Fenwick filmed his 1000th episode on 6 August 2010.
Billy’s other major scenarios have seem him getting involved in criminal activities with both Phil and his brother Grant Mitchell (Ross Kemp); working for Phil’s archenemy Steve Owen (Martin Kemp); being blackmailed by Phil and Steve’s common nemesis Dan Sullivan (Craig Fairbrass) into getting leverage against his two rivals, which leads to Dan kidnapping their lover Mel Healy (Tamzin Outhwaite); his complicated relationship with Janine Butcher (Charlie Brooks); his marriage to Little Mo Slater (Kacey Ainsworth), which follows after her domestic abuse from his sworn enemy her abusive husband Trevor (Alex Ferns) and a subsequent incident where Little Mo gets raped by her old acquaintance Graham Foster (Alex McSweeney) before finding it hard to cope raising their son; a feud with local mobster Andy Hunter (Michael Higgs), which involves Billy and his friend Minty Peterson (Cliff Parisi) trying to stop Andy from marrying Phil and Grant’s sister Sam (Kim Medcalf); working for Andy’s gangland successor Johnny Allen (Billy Murray); his marriage to Honey Mitchell (Emma Barton); working for local gang boss Terry Bates (Nicholas Ball) up until he later witnesses Terry murdering his former errand boy Jase Dyer (Stephen Lord); becoming the guardian of Jase’s young son Jay Brown (Jamie Borthwick) in the aftermath of Jase’s murder; a short relationship with fellow resident Jean Slater (Gillian Wright); being reunited with his childhood girlfriend Julie Perkins (Cathy Murphy); and discovering that their dead son has a daughter – Lola Pearce. In 2014, Billy becomes romantically obsessed with Lucy Beale (Hetti Bywater). Later, he reunites with Honey, becomes the manager of a funeral parlour, from which he is later sacked, and cheats on Honey with Tina Carter (Luisa Bradshaw-White) – the result of which ends their relationship.
Billy first arrives on Albert Square in November 1998, along with his nephew Jamie Mitchell (Jack Ryder) – appearing as the latter’s uncle and legal guardian. Since moving into Walford, it becomes evident that Billy has been taking his anger out on Jamie. This is promptly discovered by Billy’s cousin Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden), who soon forces Billy to leave Jamie alone by threatening him; Billy obliges in fear of getting hurt and Jamie ends up living with Phil.
While trying to settle himself in Walford, Billy becomes involved in criminal scams with Phil and his brother Grant Mitchell (Ross Kemp). However, Billy’s relatives see him as little more than a lackey – up to the point where he is frequently denounced an embarrassment to the Mitchell name. Billy soon finds an ally in Grant’s business partner Steve Owen (Martin Kemp), who hires Billy as an errand boy in numerous criminal activities – including drug-dealing – to antagonize the Mitchell brothers. Billy works at Steve’s club, E20, and is given a 1% share of the club for his services; though he is left torn between his loyalties to his family and Steve himself.
After learning that Phil and Grant plan to do a robbery that is set to be botched, Billy alerts their sister Sam Mitchell (Danniella Westbrook) and her boyfriend Beppe di Marco (Michael Greco) about their plans – which sparks a police chase on the Mitchell Brothers that results in them driving into the River Thames; Phil is rescued while Grant is presumed dead. Following Grant’s departure, Phil is shot (see Who Shot Phil?) by an unknown assailant on the night Steve marries their lover Mel Healy (Tamzin Outhwaite). As local chief detective DCI Jill Marsden (Sophie Stanton) embarks an investigation on Phil’s shooting, Billy clashes with Phil’s stepson Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt) and his cousin Mark Fowler (Todd Carty) upon learning that the pair had separate motives for the crime. He also gets in a fight with Jamie over his ability to manage Phil’s business, but is overpowered and forced to submit to his nephew’s demand to be left alone. Soon afterwards, Phil discharges himself from hospital and frames his friend-turned-enemy Dan Sullivan (Craig Fairbrass) for the crime – even though his ex-girlfriend Lisa Fowler (Lucy Benjamin) was responsible for the shooting. Phil then forces Billy to testify against Dan to ensure his imprisonment. Steve observes this interaction – as he too wishes for Dan to get sent down, despite both of them being Phil’s archenemies, in order to stop him from further tormenting Mel. However, Billy’s testimony fails and Dan is found not guilty. Dan later confronts Billy in search of revenge for Phil and Steve, forcing him to acquire information about the pair’s commonality to him. Billy ends up confiding to Dan about Mel sleeping with Phil before marrying Steve, which leads to him kidnapping Mel, holding her hostage, and asking for a £200,000 ransom. When Steve and Phil learn about this, they confront Billy about allowing Dan to get leverage over them. Billy manages to help Steve and Phil rescue Mel, but they fail to stop Dan from fleeing Walford with the money. In light of Dan’s departure and Mel’s kidnapping ordeal, Billy finds himself further embroiled in Phil and Steve’s rivalry – up to the point where they each deem him distrustful. Their feud ultimately ends with Steve kidnapping Phil’s infant daughter Louise to flee Walford with Mel and exact his last-ditch revenge. When Billy learns about this, he informs Phil and the latter manages to rescue Louise after Steve crashes his car and is killed in the ensuing explosion; Billy later accompanies Mel in arranging and then attending at Steve’s funeral.
Eventually, Billy falls for local resident Janine Butcher (Charlie Brooks) – even though she is only interested in his money. Janine dumps Billy after he runs out of money, he nevertheless helps her deal with some mental health issues – which leads Janine to hope for a reconciliation with Billy. However, he turns her down after developing romantic feelings for his colleague Little Mo Morgan (Kacey Ainsworth) when the pair worked together in a cleaning company. As they bond, Billy confines to her about his past: he was physically abused by staff of a children’s home in which he resided as a kid. She comforts him over his past ordeal, particularly when Ernie Johnson (John Junkin) – one of his former abusers – reappears in Walford as a pensioner. Billy later breaks into Ernie’s home to confront him over the abuse, shaming him into moving away for good. Shortly afterwards, Billy uses his experience with confronting his demons to make amends with Jamie over the way he had treated him in the past. The two start to get along better, even when Billy learns that Jamie betrayed Phil and is being treated harshly because of it. By the time his relationship with Jamie is mended, Billy has become the sworn enemy of Little Mo’s husband Trevor Morgan (Alex Ferns) – because of the torment and abuse the latter imposed on her for the majority of their marriage. She soon leaves Trevor and starts a relationship with Billy. He later proposes to Little Mo by spelling out “MARRY ME” on her plate with alphabet spaghetti, and so they are engaged. When Trevor hears of it, he kidnaps Little Mo and his baby son Sean – intending for all three of them to die in a fire. However, Little Mo manages to escape from the house with Sean and they survive while Trevor is killed in a gas explosion. Despite the trauma Trevor put them through, Billy and Little Mo plan to get married on Christmas Day. Their happiness is virtually compromised when Jamie gets struck by a car driven by his best-friend and Mark’s brother Martin (James Alexandrou). Nevertheless, the pair get married – though, not before Billy visits Jamie to make peace with him before the latter dies of his injuries later that night.
Towards the first anniversary of their marriage, Little Mo is raped by her friend Graham Foster (Alex McSweeney) – which angers Billy. She discovers she is pregnant as a result of the assault and Billy presses her to have an abortion. However, Little Mo refuses and leaves Walford to clear her head – returning with baby Freddie to see Graham convicted of rape. Billy and Little Mo reunite, but their marriage eventually ends after he admits to being unable to love Freddie due to comparing him with Graham. Later, Billy starts a relationship with newcomer Honey Edwards (Emma Barton), whom he manages during her spell as a model. The relationship prospers, despite initial disapproval from Honey’s father Jack (Nicky Henson), who takes time to accept Billy. Honey falls pregnant and accepts Billy’s marriage proposal. Their wedding is postponed when Honey is hospitalised, they reschedule, however the second ceremony goes awry because of a practical joke played on Billy during his stag night. Billy’s aunt Peggy Mitchell (Barbara Windsor) then arranges a surprise wedding. Billy and Honey have just time enough to complete their vows before Honey goes into labour. She delivers a girl, Janet, but the Mitchells are devastated to discover she suffers from Down syndrome. Honey rejects her baby, she goes into depression, contemplating infanticide, and demands Janet be put up for adoption. Billy is opposed, but, after agonising over the decision, eventually consents. After Janet is taken into foster care, she suffers a health scare and is hospitalised – forcing Honey to acknowledge she loves her baby and so Janet is brought home.
Honey falls pregnant again and William Mitchell is born. His birth is traumatic, as Honey goes into labour after being caught in a violent siege: she is assaulted by a member of a football firm led by local gang boss Terry Bates (Nicholas Ball). William seems stillborn at first but is resuscitated by medics. Billy and Honey have financial problems and their landlady, Manju Patel (Leena Dhingra), decides to evict them. Billy steals charity money to pay the rent and barricades them into the flat but they are evicted at Christmas. They rely on the kindness of friends and relatives until the council rehouses them. Desperate for money, Billy takes a job as a getaway driver for Jase Dyer (Stephen Lord), believing they are stealing money from Terry Bates, the leader of the firm responsible for hurting Honey. The job is a set-up, and Terry takes Jase’s son Jay Brown (Jamie Borthwick) hostage in their absence. Assisted by Billy, Jay escapes but Jase is killed by Terry in the ensuing fight, while Billy hides in the bathroom, too afraid to help Jase. Not realising this, Jay hails Billy a hero for trying to rescue his father. Billy breaks down and confesses his cowardice to Honey, revealing that he kept some of Jase’s money, allegedly to give to now orphaned Jay. Honey is incensed, she threatens to leave Billy but reconsiders on condition he never lies to her again. Billy does lie and keeps some of Jase’s money, telling Honey he has donated it to charity. Honey subsequently ends their marriage and takes her children to live with her father, leaving Billy alone and depressed.
Billy visits Jay at his foster home and agrees to foster him, but problems arise when Nick Cotton (John Altman) blackmails Billy, threatening to tell Jay the truth about his cowardice on the night of Jase’s death. Unable to meet Nick’s demands, Billy is forced to tell Jay the truth instead and Jay reacts in fury. Terry’s gang try to stop Billy testifying at the upcoming trial. Billy testifies, despite threats, and Terry is sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering Jase. Afterwards, Billy is redeemed in the eyes of Jay. However, Jay later begins to idolise Phil, to the virtual exclusion of Billy.
When Billy stops a man from pestering Jean Slater (Gillian Wright) at a club, she brands him a hero and they end up having sex. Embarrassed by the fling, the following day, Billy insults Jean, killing her hopes for romance. He later begins a more serious relationship with Julie Perkins (Cathy Murphy), a fellow resident of the children’s home where he lived as a kid. Billy is shocked to discover Julie fell pregnant with his child in their teens, their son was adopted and is now a grown man. Billy attempts to find his son, Dan Pearce, but is devastated to discover he died of liver failure and that his granddaughter, Lola Pearce (Danielle Harold), is in care. Billy visits Lola and they bond. Lola moves in with her grandparents but proves troublesome, and, when Billy continuously overrules Julie’s attempts to discipline her, a rift forms and Julie leaves Walford. Lola’s announcement that she is pregnant leads to Billy going back to his criminal ways to provide for his great grandchild —stealing from Janine and trading stolen goods and forgeries for Derek Branning (Jamie Foreman). Janine eventually discovers and sacks Billy for his deception. However, she has a change of heart, she reinstates him and allows him to keep the items he ordered for Lola’s baby. Billy grows tired of Lola’s troublesome behaviour and gives her a curfew and electronic tag After which he can focus on being an Olympic Torch bearer, of which he learnt several months earlier. Billy successfully carries the torch and witnesses the birth of his great granddaughter, Lexi Pearce.
Billy and Lola are devastated when Lexi is taken into temporary foster care, as Lola’s social worker, Trish Barnes (Tessa Churchard), does not think that they are coping. Lexi’s father is revealed to be Phil’s son, Ben Mitchell (Joshua Pascoe). Thus, Phil gains temporary custody of Lexi. He is even supportive when Lola runs away with Lexi, and tells her that he is the selfish one for sticking by the three times a week access rules. Billy persuades Phil to let Lexi stay over at their flat once or twice a week. He says that he is happy with that, but Trish is still unsure whether Lola should be alone with Lexi. Lola sets up her own business, doing manicures and pedicures, which she seems to enjoy. She and Billy make an effort to keep their flat a tidy environment, and set the small bedroom up for Lexi for when she returns home. Eventually, Lola is re-awarded custody of Lexi. Billy is over-protective of Lola when she starts a relationship with Peter Beale (Ben Hardy), but eventually becomes friends with him and realises that he is a good man. Peter moves into their flat, but moves out to look after his father when his sister, Lucy Beale (Hetti Bywater) is murdered (see Who Killed Lucy Beale?). However, Peter and Lola continue their relationship. Billy is delighted when Honey returns with Janet and William, and he thinks she wants to reunite with him. He is devastated to learn that Honey wants to move to Canada with their children. In the end, she decides to take just William, leaving Janet in Billy’s care.
Billy gets a job working for undertaker Les Coker (Roger Sloman). He is confronted by Lee Carter (Danny-Boy Hatchard), Tina Carter (Luisa Bradshaw-White) and Tosh Mackintosh (Rebecca Scroggs) because Lee saw him arguing with Lucy on the night she was murdered. Billy lies about it and says he was working at the fish and chip shop and Lucy was frustrated with having to wait for her chips, causing the argument. Billy tells Phil that Lucy knew he was stealing fish from the chip shop, which is the real reason for the argument. Phil tells Tina, Tosh and Lee that Lucy was trying to take money from the till, and convinces them not to tell Ian. Billy realises his fingerprints are in Tina and Tosh’s kitchen, where Lucy’s blood and earring were found, as he was also stealing food, so he tries to clean them up, but Tosh catches him. Tosh and Lee then decide to go to the police. Then, babysitter Pam Coker (Lin Blakley) discovers photographs of Lucy behind Billy’s fridge. Billy is questioned for his involvement with Lucy as it finally transpired he was arguing with her on the night of her death. However, he was not with her around the time of her murder at all, so he is cleared.
Billy is later revealed to be one of very few people who discovered of Kathy Sullivan (Gillian Taylforth) being alive. When Lucy’s murder investigation starts to come around to questioning Jay and Ben, he panics over Jay’s intention to leave Walford following Phil’s attempts to hand in Ben to the police thinking he did it, which disgusts Billy that Phil would betray his family. He attempts to distance himself from Phil but ends up doing exactly the same thing to Jay in a desperate attempt to keep Lola on the square when he discovers she was ready to leave Walford with him. Lola leaves on her own eventually feeling she has to try and break out and make something of herself that she won’t be able to do in Walford, leaving him heartbroken. Later Billy reconciles with Phil to a degree, taking on board that the two have to try and hold together the family as best as they can. He pays for Billy to spend a few months in Canada with Honey and William. When he returns, he admits his feelings for Honey have returned, and drunkenly leaves a voicemail explaining how he feels. Honey comes to Walford and admits she feels the same, and they end up having sex. They decide to take things slow, with Honey moving in with Billy’s cousin Ronnie Mitchell (Samantha Womack) and they decide to get engaged. However Honey ends the engagement when she discovers that Jay has been drug dealing and that Billy knew about it. Billy manages to convince Honey to give him another chance. Honey does so but on the condition they help Jay together, but they later catch him stealing their wedding fund from Janet’s piggy bank, leading Honey to call the police. Jay is arrested but released a day later. When Honey discovers that Jay staying with them may result in Janet and Will being taken into care, Jay moves out. When Pam and Les decide to leave Walford, Les appoints Billy as the new manager of the funeral parlour. Despite initial problems, Billy eventually settles into his new role. Upon advice from Pam, Billy gives Jay a job in the funeral parlour. Pam and Les leave and Billy begins managing the parlour. However, unbeknownst to Billy, Jay secretly steals money from the undertakers to pay his drug dealers. He later follows this up by stealing jewellery from a corpse. However, he returns these saying he took them to be cleaned professionally, leading Billy to believe that Jay’s behaviour is improving. Honey and Billy are burgled and their wedding fund and Janet’s Christmas gift of a tablet computer are stolen, so Billy vows to build Janet a doll’s house. They later move into the flat above the funeral parlour. Billy is then offered a partnership in the business, which he accepts. However, he struggles with the accounts and is visited by HMRC representatives who tell him that he could face a large fine, which Jay pays for him.
After Janet is hit by a car driven by Tina, Tina comforts Billy and they end up kissing and having sex while Honey is in hospital with Janet. Billy becomes part of a robbery arranged by Aidan Maguire (Patrick Bergin), and Billy hides the stolen money in a coffin. Billy exhumes a grave to find the cash but it has been taken. This is caught on CCTV, so Pam is forced to sack Billy. Billy tells Honey he got a pay rise but Tina urges him to tell her the truth; Honey sees them hugging and then tells Billy she knows what he is going to tell her, thinking they are having an affair. Billy admits to a one-night stand with Tina and the next day, he discovers Honey has cut up all his clothes. When Tina’s sister, Shirley Carter (Linda Henry), sees Billy and Honey talking, she assumes Honey found out Tina was driving the car that hit Janet and reveals the fact to Honey. Honey then cuts Billy out of her photos. Billy starts sleeping rough in the office of the closed nightclub, and is discovered by Mel, who is reopening the club. She hires Billy and allows him to sleep on her sofa. In Aidan’s search for the missing money, he attacks Billy for standing up to him. Honey tends to Billy’s wounds and brings Janet to see him but she is too scared of his injuries to go to him. Billy then rents a room in a house with Jay and Donna Yates (Lisa Hammond). Donna later moves away. Honey begins dating Adam Bateman (Stephen Rahman-Hughes), much to Billy’s jealousy. Lola and Lexi return to Walford and move in with Billy and Jay. Billy becomes suspicious that Adam is cheating on Honey, but she is in denial and stays with her partner. Billy gets involved with Karen Taylor (Lorraine Stanley). Shortly after they commit to a relationship, Honey and the children move back in with Billy after she splits from Adam. Honey kisses Billy on New Years’ Eve but he rejects her as he is with Karen. Karen briefly breaks up with Billy when she believes he is in cahoots with Phil over the disappearance of her son Keanu Taylor (Danny Walters), but they reconcile when Billy insists he is on her side, not Phil’s. Billy realises Honey has an eating disorder.