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Stella flees from the church; Mad lawyer does a runner after Phil's son reveals the terror he's had to endure EASTENDERS THURSDAY, BBC1,8pm.

Fairytales would have us believe that stepmothers are wicked women - and anyone who has been a regular visitor to Walford over the past few months would heartily agree.

Twisted lawyer Stella Crawford has become one of EastEnders' most memorable characters, purely because she is so obviously off her head. Her bizarre story culminates this week in her wedding to bald mechanic Phil.

Now, any one who loves their telly knows that tying the knot can be a tricky business in soapland but

Stella's nuptials look set to be some of the most explosive.

As the wedding party make their way to the hotel, the not-so-blushing bride grabs her frightened future stepson, Ben. The lad plucks up what's left of his courage and tells Stella he doesn't want her to marry his dad.

But, unfortunately, his tiny act of bravery pushes the legal eagle over the edge and she hisses death threats at him, while clawing at the youngster.

It would be enough to put the fear of god into an adult so it's not surprising the horror of it leaves Ben paralysed with terror. Then his friend Abi, the youngest member of the Branning clan, gets close to the lad, and reminds him what he has to do - expose Stella for the cruel and heartless woman she is - or face the rest of his childhood with her as his mum.

The words strike home and, at a crucial moment in the service, Ben gets to his feet.While soap fans up and down the nation leap to their feet and cheer, Stella makes a dash for it, knowing her house of cards is tumbling down. Phil and Peggy are aghast at the catalogue of abuse Ben has suffered and the mechanic is soon baying for blood.

The jilted groom tracks down his former lover - whose mental state becomes clear when it's obvious she has no idea why he's angry. However, as Phil steps toward her, fate steps in. But does she fall or is she pushed?

Back in Albert Square, there's more aggro for Bert as Jase insists he's Jay's father.

CAPTION(S):

WICKED... Stella tries to terrorise Ben; GAME'S UP... Stella does a runner from Phil, top, before the vows are exchanged then, above, falls off a roof. Is this the end?
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 14, 2007
Words:383
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