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Take that, Pat!; Peggy lashes out, all for the love of Frank.

By DOUG KEMPSTER

THEY'RE ready to scratch each other's eyes out...all for the paunchy charms of Frank Butcher.

The fur flies as Queen Vic landlady Peggy Mitchell and rival Pat Evans swap punches in a special episode showing Walford's blonde battleaxes at war.

"Viewers will see the lot - tears, screaming and fighting," said an insider at the show's studios in Elstree, Herts.

Fans of the BBC1 soap have already been talking about the growing friendship between Frank, played by Mike Reid, and Peggy, former Carry On actress Barbara Windsor.

And last week, the BBC filmed the couple's first tender kiss, which will be screened next month.

"The romance has brought the studios to a standstill," said the insider. "There are TV screens around Elstree where staff can see what is being filmed and it has literally stopped people in their tracks. For the two days it was being filmed, staff on the lot talked about nothing else."

But the sparks that fly in the growing affair between Peggy and Mike are nothing compared to the explosion that takes place when Pat, played by Pat St Clement, re-ignites her interest in her former husband.

Now married to car dealer Roy Evans, Pat summons up the courage to go round to Frank's home to tell him she still holds a torch for him. After a long heart-to-heart, she leaves in the early hours of the morning, only to be confronted by a furious Peggy as she steps into Albert Square.

Then, as if things couldn't get any worse, Pat is spotted by jealous husband Roy who tries to run her and Peggy over in his car.

Then the dramatic episode culminates in an intense confrontation between the two women at Pat's home. Producers are hoping the new love triangle will boost the ratings of EastEnders as it continues its fierce ratings war with ITV's Coronation Street.

The final showdown has still to be filmed but the BBC is already planning to screen it in September.

It follows the Sunday Mirror's revelation last May that BBC bosses had carried out a survey of viewers on EastEnders characters. The least popular are set to be written out while favourites, such as the Butchers and Mitchells, are set for greater exposure.

The insider said: ""Frank and Peggy are two of the show's strongest, most popular characters.

"And the writers have hit on the idea of bringing Pat, another of the show's big names, in on the plot.""

"Devoting a whole episode to just two characters is a tactic which has proved successful in the past. "We have used it for Michelle and Lofty and also for Dot Cotton and Lou Beale.

"Pat and Barbara are both first-class actresses and everyone at the BBC feels they will carry the explosive episode off with flying colours."
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Kempster, Doug
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 26, 1998
Words:470
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