EastEnders bosses explain why they killed off Denny Rickman in devastating twist

EastEnders fans had their tissues at the ready tonight, as one beloved cast member was unexpectedly killed off.

Filmed aboard a doomed boat party, several characters were contenders for the watery death, as the ship sank further below the surface.

Recent scenes have seen characters like Keanu Taylor (Danny Walters), Mick Carter (Danny Dyer) and Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt) come close to death as the Smith-Holland sinks to the bottom of the Thames.

But tonight we discovered it was poor Denny Rickman Jr, played by Bleu Landau, who lost his life after drowning in the boat disaster.

Ian fought to save his life and has been wracked with guilt, realising if he hadn't trapped the teenager below deck in the first place, he might have survived.

Paramedics attempted to revive him once he was brought ashore, but it was too late, as they were forced to pull a blanket over his head.

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Ahead of the show's 35th-anniversary finale, the show's bosses – Kate Oates, head of continuing drama, and executive producer John Sen – came together to discuss the heartbreaking exit.

Explaining their decision to kill Denny, John said: "I think there was only one character really who could generate the kind of story we wanted to tell."

Kate added: "I think that when we discuss this, you want consequence and that's the main thing that comes out of the death.

"It's where it goes, the people that are left behind and the story it generates."

BBC boss John admitted the 14-year-old actor behaved "professionally" when he received his character's tragic news.

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He said: "They were incredibly excited to be at the heart of such a big week, and in the end whenever you're talking to an actor about a feature story, a story like this, they want to know how big is it going to be.

"Everybody is always excited to go with something as adrenaline-filled and moving as this."

The duo also revealed they used a code name to keep Denny's identity a secret, ensuring maximum security on set.

John went on: "We do a lot to hide and protect our storylines. In scripts and story docks, this character had a code name – Todd.

"So that if anybody happened to leave their script lying around the truth would not be unveiled."

EastEnders airs at 8.30pm tonight on BBC One.

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