Composite image of Elaine on EastEnders; against Walford background and show logo; inset, 'OPINION' stamp (Credit: BBC/Composite: Entertainment Daily!)

OPINION: Long live the new Queen of The Vic: Harriet Thorpe as Elaine in EastEnders is a masterstroke

Elaine is back, and she's here to stay

The Queen Vic found itself under new ownership this week, as Harriet Thorpe joined the cast of EastEnders. Making her Walford return after six years, our new Elaine Peacock (now played by Harriet!) wasted no time in making herself at home.

Many will remember Elaine as Linda Carter’s mother, originally played by Maria Friedman between 2014 and 2017. Returning to the show, Elaine is now played by Absolutely Fabulous star and West End icon Harriet Thorpe.

As the soap opera often bemoaned for its depressing storylines and commitment to its characters misery, the introduction of a star like Harriet can only be a good thing… and here’s why.

Elaine standing behind the bar of The Queen Vic on EastEnders
Harriet Thorpe has joined the cast of EastEnders as Elaine Peacock (Credit: BBC)

Long live the Queen (Vic)

Looking back on the great landladies and lords of The Queen Vic, who do we remember but the biggest and the bubbliest? We’re talking Peggy Mitchell (“get outta my pub!”), peak Alfie Moon, Dirty Den Watts and, of course, Danny Dyer at his swaggering Danny Dyer-est.

With a personality like Harriet Thorpe – bringing that big West End energy – the soap may get the glamour and high camp behind the bar that it’s been missing of late.

With no offence to Easties icon Phil Mitchell and permanent sourpuss Sharon, Walford needs new blood and a fresh face pulling the pints. Could Elaine be the shot in the arm that the soap needs?

Sharon and Linda look horrified on EastEnders
Elaine wasted little time in putting Sharon’s nose out of joint (Credit: BBC)

A star behind the bar

Furthermore, with a history of playing strong, powerful characters, Harriet lends the soap some sorely needed star power. She is perhaps best known for playing Fleur in 13 episodes of the BBC sitcom Absolutely Fabulous. She has also appeared in episodes of Casualty, Hollyoaks, Vera and Crossroads.

With an extensive history in comedy and musical theatre, Harriet is sure to bring a sense of high camp back to the show – reminiscent of Peggy Mitchell at her heyday.

And, with Elaine already upsetting Sharon – who had designs of her own upon The Vic – it appears that a classic EastEnders feud (think Peggy vs Pat Butcher) is already on the cards.

Continuing to make waves, she then insulted Nish and Suki (“I didn’t know if you were the ventriloquist or the dummy”) before barring them both from the pub. If nothing else, such juicy drama will make a refreshing break from the soap’s usual gangster drudgery and cost-of-living storylines!

Sharon looks serious standing at the bar of The Queen Vic on EastEnders
Sharon was not best pleased by the Square’s newest arrival (Credit: BBC)

EastEnders fans react to Harriet Thorpe’s soap debut

I’m not the only one glad to see Elaine shaking things up either. Following Harriet’s debut on the soap, EastEnders fans took to social media to share their appreciation.

“Always knew Harriet Thorpe was a legend but as Elaine my new favourite,” wrote one fan.

“Loving Harriet Thorpe as Elaine already. She feels like a proper camp, classic EastEnders character in the making,” said another.

“Harriet Thorpe is so well suited to EastEnders that I can’t believe she’s not been in it before. Loving Elaine already! Exactly what EastEnders needs,” a third fan said.

Next week’s episodes will see Elaine making her presence known among her neighbours and customers. And I, for one, welcome The Vic’s newest landlady. Long live the Queen!

Read more: Complete EastEnders cast list for 2023 right here!

Cheers To The New Owner of The Queen Vic? 🍻 | Next Time | EastEnders

EastEnders usually airs Monday to Thursday at 7:30pm on BBC One

Are you as excited as us to see Harriet make her mark on the soap? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page @EntertainmentDailyFix and let us know what you think!

Joel Harley
Freelance Writer