Stacey revealed as Archie killer in 'EastEnders'

Actress Lacey Turner overcame a last-minute illness to take part in a live 'EastEnders' episode in which she was revealed as Archie Mitchell's murderer.

Viewers were made to wait until the closing minutes of the 25th anniversary programme to discover the identity of his killer after weeks of speculation.

Stacey made her confession to a stunned Max Branning (Jake Wood) just after new husband Bradley Branning (Charlie Clements), a key suspect in the case, fell to his death from a building as he was chased by police.

Her shocking confession brought to an end feverish speculation in one of the most talked-about soap guessing games since the 'Who shot JR?' storyline in US soap 'Dallas' in the 1980s.

Bookmakers took hundreds of thousands of pounds as soap fans put bets on a host of potential culprits.

In a bid to keep the outcome a secret, Turner was told of her character's guilt just 30 minutes before last night's episode.

Archie (Larry Lamb) was bludgeoned with a bust of Queen Victoria in the Albert Square pub on Christmas Day after making enemies of most of the Square.

Many characters had a motive, and Stacey had particular reason to hate twisted Archie as he raped her while she was struggling to control her bipolar disorder.

She finally admitted killing him just seconds before the famous "duff duff" signalling the end of the episode.

The live broadcast apparently went smoothly, apart from Scott Maslen, who plays Jack Branning, stumbling over some lines in his opening scene.

Turner was struggling with a sore throat ahead of the episode, but she managed to deliver her substantial sections of dialogue with her voice largely intact.

However, she was too ill too appear on the BBC's behind-the-scenes follow-up show straight after the broadcast.

Despite not having been in the series since January last year, Sean Slater (Rob Zazinsky) was bookies' favourite to be unmasked as the killer.

Soap bosses kept cast and crew in the dark by rehearsing and filming 10 possible endings to the series.

Ryan Molloy (Neil McDermott) and Max Branning were among the characters who had practised endings in which they admitted to being Archie's killer.

The episode, which was nine months in the planning, fell a quarter of a century after the Walford soap's first broadcast.

There was a nod to the early days in the landmark instalment, when Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt) played Dot Branning (June Brown) a tape featuring footage of former Square residents, including Angie Watts (Anita Dobson) and Arthur Fowler (Bill Treacher).

Executive producer Diederick Santer told BBC3's The Aftermath that the episode "was everything I wished for and more".

He added: "I spotted a couple of little wobbles but what I was proudest of was the recovery. Every time we veered slightly off course they pulled it round."

Ladbrokes said it saw the busiest 24 hours of betting on a television series in the run up to the big reveal.

William Hill took £500,000 (€568,290) in bets on the identity of the murderer, beating the amount placed on who shot JR.

Spokesman Rupert Adams said: "The BBC were amazing keeping this quiet. We have broken even which in a market like this is amazing. We have had a rollercoaster but have enjoyed every minute."

Ladbrokes took £100,000 (€113,658), which was spread across more than 30 different 'EastEnders' characters.

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