Every now and then, an episode of a soap comes along and it knocks you for six. You can’t quite believe how well something has been done and it sticks with you. In my opinion, these golden episodes illustrate soaps at their very best.
During the 2020 festive and New Year period, one episode stood out to me as one of the best ever. In fact I was moved to tears. I am, of course, talking about the episode where Mick’s mental health hits an all-time low and he calls The Samaritans.
For those that are unfamiliar with the storyline, we’ve seen Mick (Danny Dyer) realise that he was abused as a child, by his carer Katy Lewis (Simone Labhib). Mick holds this in and pushes his family away. But on New Year’s Eve, viewers witnessed Mick hit rock bottom and he calls The Samaritans for help.
Collaborating with charities
EastEnders worked closely with The Samaritans, a charity ran by volunteers, when producing this episode storyline and I think it really showed.
Jon Sen, Executive Producer of EastEnders, said: “This storyline is such a vital one for EastEnders to portray. We’ve worked closely with the NSPCC and Survivors UK since the inception of this story and as viewers have watched Mick struggle to come to terms with the truth of what happened to him as a child, we were determined to show the brutal reality and effects that abuse can cause.
“Working with the Samaritans has been invaluable to ensure that Mick’s story is true to life and they’ve been a huge support, offering guidance throughout the process. Danny gives an incredible performance and we hope his portrayal of Mick’s trauma will help dispel the stigma that survivors are often burdened with.”
Lorna Fraser, Samaritans’ media advice lead also said: “We have been pleased to work with EastEnders giving expert advice on Mick Carter’s story, as it’s a chance to explore some of the issues surrounding suicide in a sensitive and considered way.”
The impact of this episode
I felt that this episode played out in such a well-thought-out and considered way. We see Mick call The Samaritans and he’s unsure about why he’s even made the call. The volunteer he speaks to talks him through his thoughts. He lightly questions and reassures Mick, but never tells him what to do. He also reassures that he’s listening throughout the call.
It’s so important to deal with storylines such as this in a careful and considered way and I really think that EastEnders and Danny Dyer achieved this. I also think that it was important to show a character such as Mick (a strong man who seems to have it all) hit rock bottom and reach out for help.
This episode was executed perfectly and I sincerely hope that it helped somebody, somewhere. Lots have people have been actively trying to boost their mental health of late, but sometimes things do spiral.
If you need help
Whatever you’re going through, you can call The Samaritans at any time, for free, on 116 123. Somebody will listen, with no judgement, or pressure and they will help you work through what’s on your mind. No matter how large or small you feel your issue is, somebody will be there. But they’ll never tell you what to do.