Script too surreal even for EastEnders

Share this article

Key points

• Life imitates art for soap opera hard men the Mitchell brothers

• Sun editor Rebekah Wade detained for alleged assault on Ross Kemp

• TV soap brother Steve McFadden also allegedly assaulted by partner

Key quote

"You couldn't make it up. One story like this is big, but two stories on one day about two actors who play brothers on one of the country's biggest TV shows is massive" - Max Clifford

Story in full THE plot had it all: television's most famous hardmen brothers allegedly attacked by a wife and an ex-girlfriend; the country's most powerful tabloid editor arrested by police as a suspect.

In a day of drama unprecedented even in Albert Square, the Sun editor, Rebekah Wade, was detained by police yesterday for allegedly attacking her husband, Ross Kemp, who plays Grant Mitchell in EastEnders.

Only five hours later, officers arrested a former girlfriend of Steve McFadden, the actor who plays Grant's brother, Phil, in the TV soap, after an apparently unconnected attack on him.

Fleet Street was beside itself with excitement over Wade's arrest and a storyline dripping with irony and deepening mystery. Even Max Clifford, the PR expert at the centre of some of Fleet Street's most salacious tales, admitted you couldn't make this one up.

Kemp had only just reappeared in EastEnders after a six-year absence and the Mitchell brothers' reunion had helped boost the beleaguered soap's ratings, drawing in 13 million viewers.

The first incident happened at 4am when police were called to Wade's home in Battersea, south London. Kemp, 41, had suffered a cut to his mouth but declined medical treatment. His 37-year-old wife was taken to Wandsworth police station and questioned for eight hours but released without charge.

At 9.35am, Angela Bostock, McFadden's ex-girlfriend, was arrested and cautioned after an alleged incident outside a house in Haringey.

She made a number of claims about McFadden's sex life in the News of the World in August.

There was intense speculation over what had sparked the alleged incidents. Wade and Kemp, who married three years ago in Las Vegas, are media grandees more used to being feted at showbiz premieres than receiving dawn visits from the police.

The couple are understood to have spent the early part of the evening at a caviare and vodka party held by the PR expert Matthew Freud and his wife, Elisabeth, the daughter of Rupert Murdoch, the owner of the Sun. Kemp and Wade then moved on to dinner where they shared a table with David Blunkett, who had resigned hours earlier from the Cabinet, and Mr Murdoch.

One source said: "Their argument, whatever it was about, seemed to begin when they were at dinner."

The timing of the alleged incident is acutely embarrassing for Wade on several grounds. Her newspaper has run a high-profile campaign on domestic violence and the alleged assault happened on a day when Mr Murdoch was in London ahead of tomorrow's annual general meeting of broadcaster BSkyB.

Kemp is not due to do any more work on EastEnders until January, but he arrived at Pinewood at 8am yesterday to film ITV's Ultimate Force. The producer, Brian Truemay, said: "He did his scenes and filming has not been interrupted at all."

Wade, who was supposed to attend the 50th Women of the Year Lunch at the Guildhall in London, avoided that event but is understood to have made a "low-key" return to the Sun newsroom yesterday afternoon.

A spokesman for McFadden said: "He was involved in an incident with the police this morning. He was not arrested and will not be commenting."

Max Clifford said: "You couldn't make it up. One story like this is big, but two stories on one day about two actors who play brothers on one of the country's biggest TV shows is massive."

Kemp spent ten years in EastEnders before defecting to ITV in 1999 in a deal reportedly worth 1 million. He returning to the soap last month as BBC executives sought to boost ratings by reuniting him with his on-screen brother.

Wade has enjoyed a stellar rise through the ranks of Fleet Street to take the helm at the Sun.

She was previously editor of the News of the World when it pursued a controversial policy of naming and shaming convicted paedophiles in the wake of the Sarah Payne murder.

While the tactic drew fierce criticism, it boosted sales - and her career - and Wade became the first female editor of the Sun in January 2003.

Wade and Kemp first met at a golf tournament ten years ago. They got engaged the following year but called it off 18 months later, citing work pressures. After reuniting, the couple married in a quiet Las Vegas ceremony in June 2002.