Tragedy struck for Whitney Dean (Shona McGarty) in EastEnders when she discovered that her fiancé Callum Highway (Tony Clay) cheated on her with Ben Mitchell (Max Bowden). But with her hopes of a happy ending once again dashed, what’s next for the beloved character? Well, according to bosses Kate Oates and Jon Sen — there’s plenty more to come for Whitney, and the character is set to feature heavily over the next few months — and years.
There are few characters in Walford to have experienced as much tragedy as Whitney. The young woman has wanted nothing more than a little bit of happiness, and — in spite of having got rather close on one or two occasions — she’s been unable to realise that dream.
Of course, it’s all of this hardship that makes her such a compelling character. Her inability to achieve happiness allows for the writers to throw plenty of obstacles in her way — thus creating more meaty storylines not only for the character, but also for Shona, who’s proven herself to be a hugely talented actor.
Speaking to Metro.co.uk about Whitney, Jon Sen said: ‘We talk often in the story office about Whitney and her troubled past, and her history with men, and her bad luck in relationships. Shona plays tragedy so well and Whitney is such a compelling character. She is a character you can give these really tough stories to, and she plays them with such beauty and conviction — and power. You err away from her being happy!’
‘When I joined, Kate and I had a conversation where we both said ‘We’re fascinated by Whitney. This enigma — this character with this past that we all know about — and the fact that she can never find happiness, and where do we go?’ and we agreed that we wanted to push her to the front and centre of the show in terms of investing in that character.’
It’s true that Whitney certainly hasn’t had much luck, and with another failed relationship under her belt, it’s hard not to wonder about what’s next for the character?
If Jon and Kate have proven anything in their time at EastEnders thus far, it’s that they like to keep things fresh, so don’t be expecting history to simply repeat itself where Whitney is concerned. Instead, the character will not only learn from her relationship with Callum, she’ll also learn from upcoming events.
Jon continued: ‘This story becomes a chapter in a much longer arc that we have planned going forward. Without saying too much, this is just one more chapter in her story, but overtime — over the next 18 months — she learns from everything that you’re going to see, and going on into Christmas, and the 35thnext year’
Soaps are different from your average drama series in that it’s much harder for the producers and writers to craft a lengthy arc for a character — because outside factors such as contracts and tenures can often dictate how long you can plan for. What’s more, there’s no endgame per se, as, much like in life, the show carries on — even after a character achieves their primary objective.
Howevever, Jon and Kate are in a unique position with Whitney, as they’ve got a long term narrative in mind for the character — and it’s one that’s set to play out over a couple of years.
Kate said: ‘We know where we’re taking Whitney over the next couple of years which is always a joy with a character because you don’t always get that.’
We don’t know much else about the arc at the moment, so we can only speculate. Having said that, it’s likely that this storyline could address Whitney’s inability to achieve her happy ending. If so, the big question is: will she finally manage to find happiness by the time the narrative reaches its end?
Jon mused: ‘Maybe she will find happiness — eventually — but it may take some time.’
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