Initially, Phil was calmer than Grant but both brothers had a sense of physical danger, displaying stereotypical masculinity, thuggish behavior and a tendency to resolve problems through violence. Phil was originally depicted as the thinker and the more streetwise of the pair, often bailing his more spontaneous brother out of trouble, although Phil was later driven down a darker, more destructive route.
Phil can be very violent, but unlike Grant, he occasionally showed restraint when dealing with various enemies encountered – exacting revenge over time, using mind games or getting others to do his dirty work, amongst other things. Phil has occasionally shown sadistic traits. His bullying of Ian Beale is often done as a means of deriving pleasure. Equally the ceaseless degradation of Lisa showed a particularly malicious side to Phil. While he has shown compassion to the women in his life, Phil frequently finds he is unable to give them the emotional security needed to sustain the relationship. Several women have left him due to this and his inability to put their needs before the needs of his family.
Phillip James Mitchell was born on the 20th January 1961, the eldest child of Eric Mitchell and Peggy Mitchell (Nee Martin). A brother Grant Mitchell was born on the 8th July 1962. Phil and Grant were close as children. Phil was abused a lot by his alcoholic father Eric, who rarely touched Grant. This lead Phil to be hurt that he was singled out for abuse by his dad. Phil and Grant could be wayward, and often got into scrapes. At school they became best friends with Nigel Bates, who the Mitchell's saw as a brother to them. Nigel was naive, so the Mitchell brothers sorted out anyone who tried to pick on Nigel.
Peggy considered leaving when her sons, Phil and Grant, were teenagers, and once even tried to seduce Johnny Allen, but he turned her down. Peggy tried to save her marriage by having another child in 1975, her only daughter Sam. Phil was always the calmer MItchell brother but both had thuggish tendencies. In the late 1970s Grant joined the army. Phil worked on the lorries for a time where he met Minty Peterson.
1990-2000: Early years in Walford
Phil Mitchell first arrived in Walford to open an automobile repair shop, known as The Arches. Just feet away, Rod Norman and Harry Osbourne were sitting in the Square gardens. They had seen Phil zip into the square in his car. 29 year-old Phil made his first appearance in Albert Square, buying the mechanics, The Arches. Him and Grant have a brief fling with Julie Cooper.
Phil goes into a partnership with The Queen Victoria public house, along with his younger brother, Grant Mitchell (Ross Kemp), and Grant's fiancée, Sharon Watts (Letitia Dean) but they buy the upstairs house above it. Phil and Grant had a reputation for being a bit dodgy. Grant had a thuggish side, and even Phil showed thuggish tendencies but usually was more level headed. He often kept Grant in check. In 1992, Grant became increasingly moody and unsupportive of his new wife Sharon. Phil comforted her and one time slept with her, something he regretted.
In early 1994, Phil bought a flat for a pittance off Frank Butcher. He also bought Frank's share of the cafe for a knockdown price for his new girlfriend Kathy Beale. Phil returned the favour by torching cash strapped Frank's car lot so Frank could claim on the insurance. By accident, a vagrant died in the fire. The police interrogated Phil and Frank but could get no proper evidence. Phil told Frank to hold it together, one wrong word and they could be banged up for a long time. Frank later legged it after the insurance man saw his business accounts which would have shown Frank was broke and the fire was arson. Phil started drinking and confessed to Grant and Kathy but Grant told him to stop drinking. Phil got on with his life, sure that Frank was not coming back.
In October 1994, Michelle and Sharon taped a conversation about their lives in general, but Sharon also admitted she slept with Phil, and the cassette was left lying around. Grant played it on the way home from the brewery and found out. He fell apart and attacked Phil in the Arches, but Phil wanted him to so he could be punished. Phil ended up in hospital. While recovering, Phil and Grant patched things up and they blamed it on Sharon, saying she did all the running.
Following a break-up from lover, Anne Howes, Phil and Sharon grow closer. Sharon would usually turn to him when she and Grant had a row or Grant gained physical violence. They sleep together, but she chooses to stay with Grant. Grant ended up in jail and in his absence, he and Sharon reconciled their affair. But when Grant is released from prison as a reformed man, she decides to reconcile with him and she leaves a broken-hearted, Phil.
Meanwhile, Phil begins to meet an Romanian refugee, Nadia Borovac (Anna Barkan), who wants to stay in the UK. To avoid deportation, he had enter a marriage of connivence with her, in July 1993, but Nadia departs after the ceremony. Phil, later, falls in love with businesswoman, Kathy Beale. Nadia returns and made life hell - as she seduced Phil, which he denied. Phil had wanted to marry Kathy that year but in order to do that, he needs a divorce from Nadia. Nadia would only agreed to divorce - if Phil paid her £1,000 in order to move to Germany. He gave her the money and she was never seen again.
Phil married Kathy in 1995 and she was soon pregnant. But in late 1995, after almost 2 years away, Frank Butcher returned to Albert Square, having been released from a psychiatric hospital. This caused Phil to start drinking again, worried that Butcher would go to the police over the car lot scam. When Kathy discovers that Phil is responsible for torching Frank Butcher's (Mike Reid) car lot in an insurance scam, killing a homeless boy, she leaves him. He wins her back by proposing marriage, leaving Sharon jealous. Intent on winning him back, Sharon kisses Phil, but he stops himself from kissing her back. During Phil and Kathy's engagement party, Grant listens to a cassette of Sharon confessing to the affair and plays it at the party. Kathy is incensed, and Grant beats Phil so badly that he is hospitalised with a ruptured spleen and a blood clot to the brain. Phil undergoes surgery, which stirs remorse in Grant. He pressures Phil into blaming Sharon for their affair and Grant chases her out of Walford. Phil and Grant make peace, but things between them are not the same. Kathy and Phil eventually sort out their differences and get married. Kathy falls pregnant and gives birth to Ben (Matthew Silver). Phil feels neglected and depressed so turns to alcohol, developing an addiction. He becomes abusive and neglectful of Ben, so Kathy leaves him. Realising what he has lost, Phil gives up drinking to rebuild his marriage. He attends Alcoholics Anonymous, which helps reveal the basis of his problem—the physical abuse he received from his father and his fear he will do the same to Ben. Kathy takes him back but when he attends counselling, he begins an affair with a fellow alcoholic named Lorna Cartwright (Janet Dibley), who later starts stalking him. With their relationship in jeopardy, Phil takes Kathy to Paris, hoping that it can bring them closer, but it has the opposite effect when Phil confesses to the affair and Kathy throws her wedding ring into the river. Phil begins sleeping rough, gambling, and blaming Kathy for his decline. Kathy decides to leave Walford to live in South Africa, letting it be known that an offer of reconciliation from Phil would make her reconsider. Phil waits until the last minute but is stalled by Lorna, who locks herself in his bathroom and attempts suicide. Kathy leaves for the airport and Phil follows but is accosted by Kathy's son Ian Beale, who persuades him that Kathy is better off without him. Phil agonises over the loss of his son.
To take his mind of things, Phil gets involved in a protection racket with Annie Palmer, who he is also having casual sex with, but he grows tired of being bossed around by her and quits. This caused friction between Phil and Kathy and he used to beat her in drunken rages, even after their son Ben Mitchell was born in March 1996. Phil and Kathy later split up and she emigrated to South Africa, but before Kathy leaves her and Phil end up back in bed together and she falls pregnant with Phil's second child, Melissa. Phil regretted everything he did as a result of the car lot fire and Sharongate.
In 1998, Frank Butcher was dating Peggy Mitchell and Phil initially disapproved, due to knowing how Frank left Pat in the lurch a few years previously. In 1999, Phil was back on track but Grant slept with Kathy when she visited Walford, knowing Phil wanted to get back with her. Phil fell apart when he found out. Grant then emigrated and Phil had lost one more chance to be with his wife and son Ben. Phil turned to drink again and spent the rest of 1999 depressed. Kathy returned briefly in late 1999 and Phil begged her for another chance, even for their son's sake. Kathy rejected Phil and in early January 2000 she flew back to South Africa with their son. Phil tried to get over Kathy and wanted to focus on Lisa but he soon realised he loved Kathy more and could not get over her.
Due to losing his son, his brother betraying him and then losing the love of his life, and being unable to get over Kathy, Phil developed a nastier, more menacing side, he became more like his brother Grant in personality. He started to become increasingly violent and even started to treat Lisa badly. In April 2000, Phil started dabbling in stolen cars and even beat Ian Beale up when he got Lisa sacked. Phil even hit Lisa on Christmas Day 2000 when he slept with Melanie Healy that day.
2000-2003: Who Shot Phil?
He starts seeing Lisa Shaw (Lucy Benjamin), but the relationship stalls when Kathy returns briefly, continuing an affair with Grant. However, before she is due to return to South Africa, she asks Phil to leave with her. Phil cannot go as Grant has planned an armed robbery and Phil will not let his brother do the job alone. Infuriated with Phil's loyalty to Grant, Kathy reveals their recent tryst, leading to Phil confronting Grant after the heist and Grant confessing that he slept with Kathy to get revenge on Phil for sleeping with Sharon. While trying to escape the police in a getaway car, Phil pulls out a handgun and shoots at the dashboard, which causes Grant to crash into the River Thames. Phil is rescued, but Grant's body is not recovered, though he survives and flees to Brazil. When Grant sends Phil his half of The Queen Victoria, he sells it to Dan Sullivan (Craig Fairbrass) for £5 to spite Peggy due to her favouritism towards Grant.
Phil and Dan's allegiance ends after Dan tells the police about a motor scam Phil has been involved in, and Phil cons Dan into giving control of the pub back to Peggy. Phil is unsupportive when Lisa has a miscarriage and she becomes unstable. He turns his attention to her best friend Melanie Healy (Tamzin Outhwaite) and they sleep together. Phil grows jealous when Melanie reunites with Steve Owen (Martin Kemp) and becomes abusive to Lisa. Thinking a baby will improve things, Lisa stops taking her contraceptive pills. However, Melanie overhears Phil stating he does not want another baby, so she encourages Lisa to end the relationship, confessing to their affair. Lisa leaves Phil, and unknown to him, she is pregnant with his baby. Mark Fowler (Todd Carty) persuades her to pretend the baby is his. Phil gains many enemies: Lisa; Steve, who has discovered Melanie slept with Phil; Ian, who wants revenge for Phil's bullying; Mark, who wants to avenge Lisa; and Dan.
On Steve and Melanie's wedding night, Phil is shot in the back by someone hiding in the bushes, collapsing in a pool of blood, and is hospitalised. Steve is prime suspect and is arrested. However, it was not Steve and after being discharged from hospital a month later, Phil confronts the real culprit, Lisa. She had stolen Steve's gun in a moment of madness. Realising he drove Lisa to it, Phil decides to let her off and frames Dan for the deed with the help of Ritchie Stringer (Gareth Hunt), who supplies Dan with the gun. Not realising he is being set up, Dan holds Phil at gunpoint, demanding money. However, the police arrive, arresting Dan for attempted murder. Steve is called as a witness at Dan's trial, and Phil persuades him to give a false testimony, further implicating Dan, but to everyone's astonishment he is found not guilty. Dan seeks revenge, so he kidnaps Melanie, the only common link between Phil and Steve, threatening to kill her unless they each give him £100,000. They work together to rescue Melanie but Dan escapes with the money.
Phil begins a second relationship with Sharon, who has returned, and they run the Queen Victoria together. Phil wants children, but Sharon reveals she is infertile and tells him Lisa's baby, Louise (Rachel Cox), is really his daughter. Phil ends their relationship and confronts Lisa, demanding to be part of his child's life. Steve offers to take Lisa to California, but when she is unable to leave, Steve absconds with Louise. Phil is informed and chases after Steve in his car. Steve crashes into a wall and Phil rescues Louise but cannot save Steve, who dies when the car explodes. Phil knows he must win Lisa back to gain custody of Louise, and Lisa is easily swayed. Phil slowly begins excluding Lisa from Louise's life, so in desperation, Lisa flees to Portugal with Louise. Phil's nephew Jamie (Jack Ryder) helps her escape, earning him a beating from Phil. Phil goes to Portugal and returns a month later with Louise. Some of Phil's neighbours suspect he has murdered Lisa.
2003-2005: Feud with Den Watts and temporary departure
Phil falls for Kate Morton (Jill Halfpenny), not knowing she is an undercover police officer, investigating Lisa's disappearance. After gaining a confession from Phil that he manipulated Lisa into handing over Louise, Kate reveals her true identity, and says she loves him and will quit her job, but Phil threatens to kill her. Kate disappears, but several months later, Phil finds her while she is working undercover for gangster Jack Dalton (Hywel Bennett). Phil saves Kate's life when Jack orders her dead, with Jack calling off the hit but telling Phil he owes him. Kate then moves in with Phil. Jack orders Phil to kill Dennis Rickman (Nigel Harman), so Phil corners Dennis at gunpoint, but Dennis tells Phil he will kill Jack so they can both be free of him, which he does. Phil and Dennis vow to keep their involvement in Dalton's murder to themselves, but Phil later tells Andy Hunter (Michael Higgs), Dalton's second-in-command. Dennis is enraged by Phil's betrayal and demands that they settle the score with a fight. Phil hires a group of men to deal with Dennis instead.
Phil and Kate go on to marry, but Lisa arrives, demanding access to Louise. She plans to shoot Phil again but fails. She breaks down until Den Watts (Leslie Grantham) vows to get revenge on Phil for her and for having his son Dennis beaten. Den plans an armed robbery and coaxes Phil into joining him, but Den, with Dennis' assistance, sets Phil up and he is arrested. Kate is forced to give Louise back to Lisa and they leave Walford together. Phil cannot forgive Kate and their marriage ends.
2005-: Return, feud with Johnny, Queen Vic fire, and other storylines
Phil escapes from prison and attacked Den and Dennis, and Den gives Phil money to survive on while on the run. Phil returns in need of money and attacks Ian, who leads him to believe he will help him escape, but calls the police and Phil is arrested again. However, the case falls through after Grant pays a witness to change his testimony and Phil is released. Johnny Allen (Billy Murray) makes an enemy of Phil after threatening to harm his family. Dennis gets involved the feud, not realising his wife Sharon has been threatened by Johnny and that he will be killed if he does not leave Walford. Phil informs Dennis, who beats Johnny, but then has Dennis murdered, leaving Phil feeling responsible and vowing to make Johnny pay. Phil and Grant confront Johnny, but he escapes and a car chase ensues. The brothers' squabbling allows Johnny to capture them, and Johnny orders Danny Moon to kill them. However, Danny's brother Jake (Joel Beckett) shoots Danny, killing him, and Johnny surrenders.
Following Kathy's assumed death, Phil's son Ben (now Charlie Jones) returns to live with his half brother Ian. Phil tries to build a relationship with Ben and they slowly begin to bond, eventually leading to Ben asking to live with his father. Phil meets Stella Crawford (Sophie Thompson) and they begin a relationship. She moves in but Ben is unwilling to accept her. She uses underhand tactics to make him more obedient and they become rivals for Phil's affections. She starts psychologically and physically abusing Ben, and manipulates him into persuading Phil to propose to her. The abuse is revealed by Ben during the wedding, and Stella flees to an abandoned warehouse with Phil in pursuit, where she jumps from the roof to her death. Jack Branning uses his police contacts to trace Louise (now Danni Bennatar) for Phil, but Phil is incensed to discover that she calls another man "daddy" and that Jack has not warned him. Jack tries to blackmail Phil regarding his involvement in a motor scam with Kevin Wicks (Phil Daniels), which inadvertently kills Kevin. Phil teams up with Jack's brother Max (Jake Wood) to remove Jack from Walford.
Phil proposes to his girlfriend Suzy Branning when she tells him she is pregnant, but his friend and employee Shirley Carter tells him there is no pregnancy and Suzy is trying to con him. However, Phil stays with Suzy until he discovers she has schemed with his uncle Archie. Peggy and Archie marry, but Archie's manipulation of his entire family is revealed, so Peggy asks Phil to kill him. However, Phil just forces him to leave Walford. Phil starts drinking again and starts an on-off relationship with Shirley but it soon ends. Archie returns to win Peggy back, and Phil's sister Sam Mitchell returns from Brazil after being on the run for her part in the murder of Den Watts. Sam is arrested so Phil puts up bail money to have her released, seeing the garage tp Pat Evans (Pam St Clement). Archie convinces Sam to flee, leading to the Mitchells struggling financially. Phil takes a loan from Ian on the condition that Ian gets The Queen Victoria if the money is paid back in two weeks, which Phil accepts. Ian sells the loan to Archie, but does not tell Phil, saying there is no need to pay him back yet. Archie ejects the Mitchells from the pub and Phil turns to alcohol again. Archie is murdered on Christmas Day. Phil asks his now-girlfriend Shirley for an alibi, who tells police Phil was with her all day. However, she finds a blood-stained shirt, which she hides. Phil confesses that he found Archie dead and lost his balance, falling into the blood, but did not call the police because he panicked. They then burn the shirt and replace it with a brand new one. Eventually, Bradley Branning becomes the prime suspect in the murder but falls to his death while being chased by police. Phil and Shirley resume their romantic relationship.
Phil's cousin Ronnie (Samantha Womack) tells Phil that Louise (now Brittany Papple) came looking for him but she sent her away because Phil was in a fight at the time. Phil smashes up the bar and shouts in Ronnie's face, just as Louise walks in to witness his rage. Louise spends the night under the secret care of Peggy and Phil, and pleads to stay permanently, to which Phil initially agrees. However, Shirley finds out that Louise is hiding in the pub, and persuades Phil to do the right thing, so he then sends Louise back into care. He takes a DNA test to prove he is Louise's biological father, and custody is granted after Phil moves in with Shirley. Phil discovers that Ben has been burning Louise's arms and punches his son. The next day Ben explains that he is being bullied by Jordan Johnson, so Phil tells him to stand up for himself, leading to Ben attacking Jordan and leaving him in a coma. Ben decides to confess to the police and is charged and bailed. Phil is told Ben could spend six weeks in custody, so plans to move to Portugal with Grant, but Peggy stops them as they are about to leave. Phil is outraged to hear Ben must spend five months in custody. He learns that Lisa has made an application to see Louise so he asks his solicitor Ritchie Scott (Sian Webber) to find a way to prevent her getting access. After Phil visits Ben, he discovers that Ben is being bullied by another prisoner, Cal Childs. Ben tells his family never to visit him again, but Phil attempts to, and while he is there, Peggy tells Louise that Lisa wants to see her, but insults Lisa, leading to Louise running away. Phil finds Louise and confronts Peggy, slapping her and leaving her bruised. Phil attempts to keep Louise locked in the house, but Peggy sneaks her out and takes her to Lisa, finally allowing her to stay there. Phil throws Shirley out of the house, accusing her of helping Peggy. He goes to Lisa's house to retrieve Louise but finds it empty and abandoned.
Phil starts drinking again after two months of sobriety, blaming Peggy for the loss of his two children, so Peggy orders him to be ejected from the pub. At an all-time low, he approaches Rainie Cross, a drug addict, and is tempted to try some of her crack cocaine after she says she needs it to block things out, as he wants to forget his children. Phil and Rainie get high on drugs at Phil's home, and when Shirley comes in to check on him, she finds them naked together on the floor. Phil takes money from The Queen Victoria to get more drugs, but Rainie is mugged when she tries to buy some, so Phil tries to take money from The Arches. Minty Peterson (Cliff Parisi) and Ricky Butcher (Sid Owen) refuse to hand over the keys, locking him in. They get Shirley, who calms Phil down and offers to help him get clean, throwing Rainie out when they return home. She tells Phil to choose either her or the drugs, and he walks away, having chosen the drugs. When Peggy decides to make up with Phil, she finds him in a drugged-up state on the floor so leaves in disgust. She visits him again to say she will get him some help but slaps him when he insults her for her nagging. She regrets this but he throws her out and tells her to go away. When Shirley visits later, Phil is gone.
A few weeks later, Phil's relative Billy Mitchell finds Phil a few weeks later and takes Peggy to see him in an estate. Peggy wakes him and tells him he is coming home and that Sam has had a baby. Phil says he does not care and that Peggy has made him this way. She leaves in tears after telling him if she had a gun, she would give it to him and tell him to shoot himself as he would be better off dead. However, Peggy realises she needs to get Phil off the drugs, so she enlists Minty and Billy to help get him back to The Queen Victoria and lock him in the upstairs living room, where the windows and door are boarded up so he cannot escape. He is so angry he starts trashing Peggy's living room and smashes the mirror. He begs to be let out as he is suffering withdrawal symptoms and says he needs a doctor. Worried he will die, he convinces Billy to open the door to bring him some water, promising he will not try to leave. When Billy enters, Phil grabs the crowbar from him and Billy runs out and boards him back in. Phil uses the crowbar to escape. He confronts Peggy, and after a huge argument, throws a match on the floor and sets the entire room on fire. Within minutes the entire pub catches fire, causing mass panic. Phil tries to grab boxes of alcohol from the cellar, but cannot carry it out. When he tries to steal money from the till, the roof collapses on him. Peggy and Billy manage to save him and get him out of the pub. Peggy departs Walford the next day when she realises that Phil is better off without her. A couple of days after her departure, Peggy signs The Queen Vic over to Phil.
When police come to the house, Phil runs and goes to Shirley's. Shirley is angry until Phil admits he needs her help to change, but soon realises that Phil started the fire and says she cannot trust him as he did not tell her. However, she later tells Phil to lie to the police and do everything she tells him to from now on, and moves in with him. Billy shouts at Phil that he needs to get himself sorted, and Phil does not get angry. Shirley tells Phil she will find something for him to do and eventually finds an investor and buys back the garage from Pat.
A few weeks later, Phil rents the Queen Vic to former landlord Alfie Moon and his wife Kat and they begin to refurbish it. In 2012, as they cannot pay the rent, Phil reclaims the Vic from Alfie and Kat but when they pay the rent back, he gives it back. In 2013 when Alfie jilts his new wife Roxy at the church to reunite with ex-wife Kat, he punishes Alfie by announcing he is selling The Queen Vic. At Christmas 2013, Phil honours his word and sells the Vic to Mick Carter and his wife Linda, unaware that Mick is his ex Shirley's brother. In 2014, Phil also reunites with his ex-sister-in-law and lover, Sharon Rickman, and they open a new bar called The Albert. Phil hires thugs to smash up The Albert so Sharon would agree to have bouncers on the door but things go wrong and Sharon is left beaten in to a coma. Sharon and Phil eventually make up and Sharon becomes a Mitchell again by marrying Phil. At their wedding reception, Sharon learns of Phil's affair with Shirley and plans to flee the country but he persuades her to stay and talk. After Phil is shot by Shirley, Sharon agrees to give their marriage a chance but warns Phil if he does anything like that again, she will divorce him and take him for everything he has got.
In December 2017, ex-cellmate Aidan Maguire knocks on his door. They share a drink and catch up. When Sharon Mitchell walks in, clearly shocked at the scruffy stranger in her house, Phil looks anxious, however Aidan introduces himself as Phil's ex-cellmate. Sharon looks surprised and Phil appears annoyed. Afterwards, Phil asks him why he said that and Aidan said that he saved him from "20 awkward questions". Phil later sees Aidan talking to Vincent Hubbard, and expresses a mixture of confusion and annoyance. When Phil confronts Aidan, Aidan says that he is smuggling ill-gained substances into the country and asked Vincent Hubbard to help, however reassures Phil that he would have asked him, only as Phil is a recovering alcoholic and is also recovering from a recent liver transplant he felt it would not be a good idea. Phil calls Vincent a "grass". Phil is offended, however later asks Aidan what he can do to help. Aidan says he will be in touch. Aidan later organises a meeting between Phil, Vincent and himself. Vincent and Phil argue, and Aidan tells Vincent to leave. After a heated discussion between Aidan and Phil, Phil refuses to work with Vincent and Aidan leaves. Later, however, he tells Aidan he's in. Aidan says he will be in touch.
The next day, Phil receives a phone call to which Phil says "Okay, I'll be there". Sharon thinks it is Aidan getting him involved in something dodgy, and hassles him, to which Phil shouts that Ben is in hospital. When Phil gets to hospital, Ben tries to avoid telling him Luke hurt him, but Phil drags it out of him and vows to kill him and his whole family. Kathy informs him that the whole family are at the pub right now, telling the entire Square about demolishing the Queen Victoria and kicking the Carters out. Phil rushes over, but Kathy manages to stop him. The following episode, Ian tells Lauren Branning that Ben is being let out of hospital that day.
After Ben Mitchell is beaten up, Phil is seen asking Aidan for a "big favour" over the phone. A few days later, when Aidan and Phil meet, Aidan tells Phil he has been making some enquiries, however Vincent barges in and cuts their conversation short. Vincent says he has sorted their problem, and Aidan, obviously to make sure nobody hears, pretends he doesn't know what he is talking about. Vincent clarifies, and says he has found a van in Canning Town with black-out windows. Aidan asks Phil what he thinks. Phil says to Vincent that all these websites he has been on would be showing up in his search history, and that if the police came sniffing it would be easy to find. He says that even if he has deleted it all it will still be in the cloud. Aidan says he should get rid of the tablet, and Vincent says it is Kim's, but says he will do it anyway. Later in the episode, Phil and Aidan are seen walking in the Square, and Aidan asks Phil if he even knows what the cloud is. Phil says he hasn't got a clue, and that Vincent is too easy to wind up. Aidan says that Vincent has "a rage" inside. Phil asks him about "my little problem", to which Aidan says it is all in hand.
The same month, Billy comes up to Mick and asks for use of the upstairs bathroom, as the pub's public bathroom has a "dodgy ballcock". Mick allows him to. Mick overhears Aidan shouting "Yes, that's the Queen Victoria pub in Albert Square" down the phone. Aidan says that he has bought Mick a present, to Mick's mocking. Aidan shouts to Whitney and asks her if he gave her a present to give to Mick yesterday. Whitney says yes, and explains she placed it under the Christmas tree upstairs. Aidan tells Mick it is a gun and that he "felt duty-bound to report it to the police". He explains he has around 10 minutes to get rid of it. Mick runs upstairs to find it, but can't. He asks Aidan desperately to tell him where it is. Aidan gives him a clue, and he finds it just as the police arrive. He hands it to Billy, who is returning from his toilet trip, and tells him to leave and give it to Phil. Billy does so.
When Billy gives Phil the gun, Phil jumps back, thinking Billy is going to shoot him, but he takes it from a trembling Billy. After Kathy tells him that Max killed Steven, Phil takes the gun and finds Max. Phil beats Max up, and shoots a rail to scare him. He leaves.In December 2018, Kim is locked in the storeroom of the Minute Mart with Phil after he lets the door shut. Kim goes into labour. Phil delivers the baby. Kim later invites Phil over as a thank you and notes that she needs a holiday. Phil later gifts her a holiday.In July 2019, Phil got struck on the head with a wrench by Stacey Fowler to save her husband Martin and cousin Kat Slater from being attacked.
In December 2019, Phil finds out that Sharon's baby isn't his. Once he finds out that Keanu is the real father, he plots revenge on both Keanu and Sharon. He also turns Denny Rickman against Sharon for a brief period of time.
Phil leaves Walford with Lisa and Louise in January, but returns the following month after finding out from Ben that Keanu is still alive. He confronts Keanu on the boat, which later crashes causing the death of Denny Rickman. Phil is devastated by his death, and leaves Walford for a month, returning on the day of Denny's funeral. Upon his return, Sharon yells at him to get out, but the two later have a heart-to-heart about Denny. Sharon blames her affair with Keanu for Denny's death, but Phil tells her it doesn't matter now and says he'll be there for support. Later on, Phil talks to Ian, and he decides to go to the police.
Character development and impact
The Mitchell brothers quickly became two of the soap's most popular characters and storylines involving them began to dominate the programme. Their arrival heralded a new era for the soap, which aptly coincided with the beginning of a new decade – EastEnders during the 1980s having been very much dominated by the hugely popular Watts family.
One of the most notable and popular early storylines involving Phil was a love triangle between him, his brother and his brother's wife Sharon (played by Letitia Dean). Despite the fact that Sharon was married to Grant, EastEnders writer Tony Jordan revealed in The Mitchells – The Full Story that the love-triangle storyline had been planned since Phil and Grant's introduction, after the writers decided Sharon was perfect for them both. This storyline was slow burning and spread over several years, providing a plethora of dramatic tension along the way. The episode in which Phil betrayed his brother with Sharon occurred in September 1992 in one of the soap's notorious three-handers.
Things finally came to a head in 1994 with some of EastEnders most popular and renowned episodes, which were dubbed "Sharongate" – centred around Grant's discovery of the affair and his reaction. The repercussions of Phil's betrayal contributed to many subsequent storylines involving the Mitchell brothers during the 1990s. Sharongate has also proven a popular storyline with viewers and it was voted the sixth top soap opera moment of the decade in a poll of 17,000 people for What's On TV magazine.
Among the many issues Phil has been used to cover is alcoholism and the consequences the condition has upon the sufferer's life. The relationship between alcohol abuse and domestic violence was explored between Phil and his wife Kathy (played by Gillian Taylforth) culminating in the slow deterioration of their marriage, which gripped viewers throughout 1997.
Of particular note is an episode where Phil attends Alcoholics Anonymous (February 1997), an "alien and uncomfortable arena" where he was forced to talk about his condition, expose his vulnerability and reveal the basis of his problem – the physical abuse he'd received from his father and his fear that he will do the same
The Mitchell car crash
Phil's disposition altered during the early 2000s when a darker more menacing side to his personality began to surface. This change was perhaps a consequence of Grant's departure, who up until this point had always been depicted as the more selfish, thuggish and nastier of the two. The storyline signifying the departure of Ross Kemp played heavily on the Mitchell brothers' fragile and damaged relationship.
After discovering that Grant had vengefully slept with Kathy, Phil went ballistic with a handgun causing the hijacked Vauxhall Astra they were driving to career at high speed into the River Thames, in an episode that was watched by 19.5 million viewers. Shot in London's Docklands, the scenes required stunt doubles, divers and crash test dummies and it has been hailed as "one of the soap's most dramatic storylines ever."
Who Shot Phil?
Phil's behaviour earned him a number of sworn enemies in Albert Square and by 2001 the character had become one of the soap's nastiest villains. In an interview with The Guardian McFadden commented on his alter ego's descent into villainy "Phil's been had over by a lot of people, so now he feels like he can do it back. It's his history". However the character finally received his comeuppance in one of EastEnders most highly anticipated storylines, dubbed "Who Shot Phil?". Phil was gunned down outside his home in March 2001 in a "Dallas-style" whodunnit mystery. Various key characters were in the frame for the deed and viewers were left guessing for weeks as to which of them was the real culprit. Several outcomes were allegedly filmed and it was reported that only a few TV executives knew the identity of the would-be assassin – even the actors were kept in the dark. A spokesman commented "The cast are only getting their own scripts. They are not being told anyone else's storylines. Not even Phil knows who shot him. It's top secret." Script writers were reportedly given private security after a writer's laptop was stolen in what was believed to be an attempt to gain the identity of the assailant. The storyline captivated the public's imagination leading to thousands of bets being placed at the bookies across the UK – bookmaker William Hill said there was about 50,000 bets on who was responsible.
An estimated 22 million viewers watched EastEnders on 5 April 2001 to find out that Lisa Shaw – Phil's ex-girlfriend – was the culprit. The episode caused the third-largest power surge on record, and the Liverpool and Barcelona UEFA Cup semi-final was postponed for 10 minutes to accommodate a special 40-minute edition of the soap.
In June 2010, it was reported that Phil would develop an addiction to crack cocaine after his troubled personal life leads to depression. The report followed the news that Lucy Benjamin was to return for a single episode, reprising her role as Lisa, the mother of Phil's daughter Louise (Brittany Papple). In the storyline, Phil gains custody of Louise after she is dropped off in Walford by an unseen person, however, Peggy eventually returns Louise to Lisa after Phil punches his mother in the face. A spokesperson for the show said "Lisa Fowler was a major part of Phil's life – she knows him as well as anyone, so she won't be happy about him looking after his daughter. With their history, you know that this storyline is going to be an explosive episode in the Mitchells' history." Phil also loses his son Ben (Charlie Jones), who makes a temporary departure from the show in order for the part to be recast. Subsequently, Phil becomes addicted to crack cocaine. Producers worked closely with drug and alcohol charities, including Addaction and DrugScope. Viewers never see Phil take drugs to make sure the episodes are suitable for all audiences. Martin Barnes, chief executive of DrugScope, commented: "If EastEnders sensitively reflect the impact that drug use has on Phil, it could help. The storyline also sees Phil become more violent.
McFadden decided to lose weight for the storyline by going on a crash diet, saying that food would not be one of Phil's priorities.
Behind the Scenes
- For the roles of Phil and Grant Mitchell many actors were screen-tested together. This was done to assure the chosen actors – who would work together – had a strong rapport and physical resemblance. Producer Corinne Hollingworth commented: "There were some good actors we had to turn down because we couldn't find the 'right' brother." Steve McFadden, an actor who had worked extensively in television, was cast as Phil. His shape, skills in stage fighting and a variety of sports including boxing, football and karate made him an ideal choice to play one of Walford's latest "tough-men." Ross Kemp got the role of Grant. Both actors worked well together and shared similar physical characteristics, such as short cropped hair and a "round, open face" – facial characteristics also shared by Danniella Westbrook, who was chosen to play their sister Samantha because of this.
- The character of Phil is arguably one of the soap's most popular, particularly with female viewers, making him one of the soap's unlikeliest sex symbols. He has featured in some of the show's most memorable and highly viewed storylines and he is the second longest running male character to appear in the soap, surpassed only by Ian Beale. Phil along with Grant was voted as the second most popular King Of Soaps in a Channel 4 poll in 2002.
During a period of heavy media criticism aimed at EastEnders throughout 2004 and 2005, the character—who was on a hiatus from the show—was reintroduced twice in what was branded by the press as a bid to "boost flagging Enders. His first return in April 2005 was generally well-received, with media comments such as "the excellent, bug-eyed Steve McFadden proves nobody does psychotic thug better than him" and "McFadden's blistering performance on Tuesday defies that old cliché of a soap being bigger than its stars". Of the Mitchell brothers' highly publicised return in October 2005, a reporter from the Daily Mirror commented "Soapville must confess that we did get goosebumps and feel properly excited when we first saw the Mitchell Brothers back on the Square...After all, you associate them with the golden days of Enders".
"You should see this place, Grant. It is ripe, and I have found the ideal spot." - First line, to Grant Mitchell.
"Don't get to comfy on that throne, Watts." - to Den Watts.
"You're a slimy, scum sucking little thief. And I know exactly what you are." - to Ian Beale.
"Worth it, was he? Keanu Taylor?" - to Sharon.