Michelle is first introduced into Walford as a typical teenager struggling to compete with best friend Sharon for Kelvin Carpenter's affections, however she gives up. Later that year, Michelle finds out she is pregnant at sixteen years of age, however refuses to have an abortion and does not reveal the father. After almost half a year of suspense, the father is eventually revealed as best friend Sharon's 39-year-old adoption father Den Watts. During a secret meeting, Den vows to support his child financially. Michelle's mother Pauline witnesses Den hand Michelle cash, and realises he must be Vicki's father. Pauline slaps Den when he admits he is Vicki's father.
In 1986, Michelle begins to struggle with being a teenage mother. A barman named Lofty Holloway propoes to her, and she initially refuses, however is eventually persuaded to accept. Later that year, her daughter, Vicki Fowler, is born. As her wedding to Lofty commences, Lofty is jilted at the altar by Michelle. After, however, she changes her mind and Lofty and Michelle wed in secret. Lofty is constantly hammering Michelle to allow him to formally adopt Vicki, however she puts up with it. By the end of the year, she discovers she is pregnant with Lofty's baby. Lofty is ecstatic, and tells everyone about it, to Michelle's annoyance. Michelle coerces Den into funding an abortion, as he does not want Lofty to adopt Vicki. Lofty assaults Michelle, and they divorce.
Later that year, her aunt, Kathy Beale, is raped by James Willmott-Brown. She persuades her to go to the police.
Den pays for a flat for her, Sharon and Vicki to move in with the money he has gained from dealings with a dodgy gang known as The Firm. He is imprisoned because of this. He realises that The Firm want to kill him, so he escapes prison to have a last rendezvous with Michelle at the canal. Michelle tells Den she will wait for him to be released. Den is shot by a person with a gun concealed in a bunch of daffodils, and is presumed dead. The police do say that there was a mystery woman present shortly before his death, and Michelle is forced to confess the truth to Sharon about Vicki's paternity. Sharon walks out without saying a word. Michelle's father, Arthur Fowler, later overhears a conversation between Michelle and Pauline Fowler in which he discovered Michelle's secret, and is furious. Michelle and Sharon don't talk for months, however when Vicki catches meningitis Sharon and Michelle are reunited with worry. Michelle embarks on an affair with yet another married man, computer salesman Danny Whitling, who says his marriage is breaking apart. Michelle becomes Rachel Kominski's roommate, a university lecturer who persuades Michelle to enroll at a university and resume her studies, which were interrupted when she fell pregnant with Vicki. Rumours start circulating that Michelle and Rachel are in a relationship, and Michelle, desperate to prove otherwise, embarks on yet another relationship with single parent Clyde Tavernier. Michelle's family view the relationship as concerning as Clyde is black. Later that year, Clyde is falsely acccused of murdering Square resident Eddie Royle, and Clyde, his son Kofi, Michelle and Vicki all run from the police. The police find them and Clyde is imprisoned for three months. Clyde finds Michelle in bed with a student from her university, Jack Woodman, and breaks off the relationship. Jack visits Walford, claiming him and Michelle are "meant to be together". Michelle rejects him, and he begins to exhibit strange behaviour, stealing Michelle's knickers, injuring himself to gain her pity, and makes creepy phone calls to Michelle. Michelle goes to Phil Mitchell for help, and Jack dissapears. In March, Vicki is abducted and Michelle is sure that Jack was the suspect, however Vicki was later found with a woman named Audrey Whittingham, who returns her safely. By the new year, Vicki's paternity is public knowledge and the following year Vicki finds out who her father is and that she is Sharon's sister.
Michelle hates Sharon's new husband, Grant Mitchell, and is shot by an army friend of Grant's named Dougie Briggs. Later that year, Sharon and Michelle drunkenly tape a conversation in which they discuss an affair Sharon is having with Grant's brother Phil, and Grant mistakenly obtains the tape. In revenge, he plays it at Phil and Kathy's engagement party. Michelle supports Sharon, which places a strain on Michelle and Kathy's relationship, however all parties eventually make up. In December, Michelle graduates from university with a Bachelor of Arts.
Michelle plans to move to Scotland with boyfriend Geoff Barnes in the new year, and they decide to marry but Michelle decides not to go through with it. After Sharon leaves Walford, Michelle and Grant have an argument over Sharon and they have a one-night stand. Michelle falls pregnant. Michelle is offered a job in Alabama and emigrates there.
Off-screen, she marries a man named Tim.
On Christmas Eve 2016, Michelle returns to Walford and reunites with old friend Sharon. She stays at her brother Martin Fowler and his wife Stacey Fowler's house. Sharon figures out that something is amiss as it is not like Michelle to leave her family behind, as she did with her family back in the United States, but Michelle refuses to let slip what is going on. Stacey is annoyed by Michelle being around the house, and drives her to the point where Michelle announces she is moving back to the United States. Stacey overhears her crying on the phone, and tells Sharon, who confronts Michelle. Michelle confides in Sharon that Mark had left home with his girlfriend, and that she and Tim haven't had sex for over two years. She confesses to Sharon that whilst in Florida, she had an inappropriate, sexual relationship with her 17-year-old student, has Preston Cooper. Sharon lets Michelle stay with her and Michelle starts drinking. Sharon and Phil leave for an extended holiday, leaving Michelle to babysit the Mitchell children, Louise and Dennis.
On Valentine's Day, Preston appears and he and Michelle kiss. Michelle tries to find a teaching job, but they deny her after they discovered her relationship with Preston. Michelle tries to drive him back home, but Preston consistently attempts to win her over. Preston uses a relationship with Rebecca Fowler, Michelle's niece, to win Michelle back over with jealousy. He orchestrates a plot in which Michelle finds him in bed with Rebecca. The plan appears to work, and Michelle and Preston sleep together. Dennis discovers their relationship, and blackmails Michelle into buying him expensive shoes and allowing him time off school. Michelle is furious when she discovers Dennis has been using her credit card without her consent, and when he confronts him, Dennis calls her a paedophile. Michelle, in turn, slaps him. Louise comes home and witnesses Michelle calling Dennis a "brat". Dennis tries to blackmail Michelle out of £100, but it doesn't work and he tells Louise about Michelle and Preston's relationship. Meanwhile, Rebecca and Preston make their "relationship" official. Louise tells Rebecca, her best friend, about Michelle sleeping with Preston, but Rebecca doesn't believe her. A few days later, witnessing Preston and Michelle cosy at the bar whilst she is performing a song in the Queen Victoria pub, she asks Michelle "Is it true? Are you sleeping with my boyfriend?" Louise answers for Michelle, and Martin assaults Preston and disowns Michelle. Drunkenly, Michelle tries to find Preston, and gets into Phil's car, having taken sleeping pills. Speeding about, she finds Preston, who jumps out of the way.
She ploughs into the chip shop in which Kush Kazemi and Kathy were present, completely ripping out the front window and the furnishings. Michelle, having ruptured her spleen, is admitted to hospital. Upon her discharging, she is shocked to find Sharon has sent Preston back to the United States. Sharon tries to make amends with Martin and Ian Beale, but neither of them want to. Rebecca belittles Michelle, and Michelle cries in Sharon's arms. Ian forgives Michelle, but Martin still avoids her. Michelle attempts to find work, but due to the recent incidents she finds nothing. Stacey organises a meal with Michelle and Martin, but Martin says Michelle only pretends to care about her family. Michelle commences community service and Tim sends divorce papers, and she tries to avoid talking about it. Martin and Michelle regain speaking terms, but Martin is still annoyed. Michelle successfully obtains a job, and on her first day travelling to work, meets a man named Tom Bailey on the tube and gathers the courage to ask him out. Michelle loses interest, but Tom is persistent and begins to stalk Michelle. Michelle moves on and goes on a date with a nice man, however Tom threatens him and Michelle never hears from him again. After Tom launches a sexual attack on Michelle, Sharon whacks a vase over his head and enlists Karen Taylor and Denise Fox, who threaten Tom and warn him against ever returning to Walford. They never hear from him again.
In April 2018, local businesswoman Mel Owen asks Michelle to tutor her son Hunter to improve his school grades. However, upon arrival for their first session, Michelle catches Louise and Hunter having sex. As Phil disapproves of the relationship, Louise begs her to keep quiet so Michelle tells Mel she cannot tutor Hunter, who then lies and claims Michelle kissed him. After being attacked by Mel, Michelle tries to confide in Sharon who does not believe her.
After Hunter admits that he lied, Michelle realises she cannot stay in Walford and leaves.
- Michelle was initially played by Susan Tully from the show's inception in 1985 for ten years. After an absence spanning 21 years, it was announced in December 2016 that Michelle was making a return to Albert Square, albeit played by new actress Jenna Russell.
- In 2018, it was announced that Jenna Russell had decided to leave the show after 2 years of mediocre storylines. She made her final appearance on the show on 17th April 2018 after her character decided that Walford brought back too many bad memories.
First and last lines
"Oh, it's lovely. Yeah she'll like it." (First line)
"Come on." (Last line to Sharon Mitchell)
|Lou Beale | Pauline Fowler | Arthur Fowler | Michelle Fowler | Mark Fowler | Pete Beale | Kathy Beale | Ian Beale | Den Watts | Angie Watts | Sharon Watts | Ethel Skinner | Dr Legg | Dot Cotton | Nick Cotton | Sue Osman | Ali Osman | Saeed Jeffery | Naima Jeffery | Lofty Holloway | Tony Carpenter | Mary Smith | Kelvin Carpenter | Andy O'Brien | Debbie Wilkins | Pat Butcher | Simon Wicks|