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Matthew Wright's Column: Operation Deserted Square; Tiff's mum the target in Missile Matt 's new blitz.

IF the Americans really want Saddam Hussein to disappear they should offer him a part in EastEnders.

Walford market is beginning to look like a Baghdad bazaar on a bad bombing day.

The BBC soap's producer Matthew Robinson is taking out cast members with the efficiency of a Tornado squadron.

Carol Harrison is the latest victim of Operation Deserted Square, as the air-raid sirens boom out their grim warning to the actors.

Carol, 43, better known as Tiffany's frisky mum Louise Simmonds, has been at the centre of the show's most dramatic storylines.

Most significantly, her romp with screen son-in-law Grant Mitchell drew one of the biggest audiences.

But with Tiffany soon to meet a grisly end under the wheels of a car, time is also running out for Louise, I fear.

My sources claim Robinson, 53, who took over EastEnders' reins in February, has told Carol she will be out by March after just a year on the soap.

Mercifully her character will be spared a vicious or bloody death, leaving the door open for a return.

But that's something of a rarity these days as the show's new chief has been up and down Walford High Street like a laser-guided missile.

Since he was appointed executive producer Rob-inson's hit-list makes the SAS look like cissies ...

Everyone we used to know in Walford has either died, fled the country or simply disappeared!

"Matthew came to EastEnders with a very clear cut vision of what he wanted," one of the producer's allies explained. "He felt the time was right to make some radical changes and that involves losing certain characters.

"But instead of mourning their loss, viewers will hopefully become hooked on all the new people moving into Albert Square."

Others are less convinced. One cast member, who asked not to be named, warned: "Matthew is turning EastEnders on its head.

"It seems he is bringing in a lot of sexy young women and is obviously trying to spice up the show.

"Killing off Martine McCutcheon's character Tiffany was insane. Why do that to someone who everyone loves?

"There are plenty of cast members who have brought shame on themselves and the show in their private lives who have still jobs."

Have we reached the end of the soap cull now? No one at EastEnders could tell me.

Let's just hope Pauline Fowler, alias Wendy Richard, can hang on before Robinson sends in the B-52 bombers ...


June: Sanjay (Deepak Verma) and Gita (Shobu Kapoor), George Palmer (Paul Moriarty), Ruth Fowler (Caroline Paterson), Michael (Russell Floyd) and Susan Rose (Tilly Vosburgh), Sanjay's mother Neelam (Jamila Massey), Chris Clark (Matthew Lewis), and Italian grandparents Luisa and Bruno di Marco (Stella Tanner and Leon Lissek) were axed in the biggest cull in the soap's 13-year history.

December: Sexually confused Tony Hills (Mark Homer) and gay Simon Raymond (Andrew Lynford) were given the chop. Des Coleman, who plays Lenny, and Richard Elis, who plays Huw, were sacked because their characters were going nowhere. Michelle Collins - who played Cindy Beale - left of her own accord, and wanted the option of coming back. No chance. Robinson killed her off as he did Martine McCutcheon.
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Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Wright, Matthew
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 23, 1998
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