The Blog

Why EastEnders' Carter Clan Are Soapland's Ultimate Thriving Family

In the two years they've been on screen, Mick, Linda, Lee, Nancy and Johnny (and not forgetting little Ollie) have weathered rather a few storms, but have always managed to come out of it stronger and more together than ever.

When the Carters rocked up in Walford back in December 2013, it didn't take them long to make their mark on Albert Square, and now it seems impossible to imagine EastEnders without them.

In the two years they've been on screen, Mick, Linda, Lee, Nancy and Johnny (and not forgetting little Ollie) have weathered rather a few storms, but have always managed to come out of it stronger and more together than ever.

Of course, they're by no means perfect (what family is, eh?), but that hasn't stopped them from becoming one of the most-loved telly clans of all time.

In celebration of HuffPost UK's Thriving Families month, here's why I consider them to be soapland's ultimate thriving family.

Mick Carter may have first struck everyone as a bit of a Jack the lad, but it wasn't long before he was tugging at the heartstrings. As Johnny struggled to deal with his sexuality, ashamed of being gay, his father encouraged him to open up about it.

What happened next was one of the most powerful scenes 'EastEnders' has ever aired between father and son, as Mick told Johnny he loved him no matter what, and could not be more proud of him. It was exactly how you hope every parent would react to their child telling them they are gay, and it's no wonder that Danny Dyer was inundated with letters and tweets from closeted fans who said Mick's reaction had helped them come out to their parents.

Linda's reaction on the other hand showed what many LGBT people face when telling family members about their sexuality. While you'd have been forgiven for thinking she'd have dealt with the news better than Mick, given the close mother and son bond she and Johnny had, she refused to accept he was gay.

Her attitude set them at odds with one another and at one point it seemed like the damage to their relationship was irreparable. However, eventually Linda came around having learned a thing or two from her husband, proving that a mother's love for her child will always overcome any prejudice. Which is good, because I couldn't bear to see Linda at odds with her "sausage".

While Nancy may not have appreciated it at the time, Mick and Linda stopped her making the biggest mistake of her life when they (quite literally) dragged her away from her wedding to wrong'un Wayne.

As viewers, it made us aware of how far Mick and Linda would go to protect their kids - and not in the traditional 'you mess with my faaaaamily and I'll kill ya' kind of way 'EastEnders' usually portrays this.

If it's one thing 'EastEnders' is great at, it's tackling difficult issues head on. So while mental illness - especially among young men - is often still stigmatised in society, the Carters had a refreshing attitude when it became apparent Lee was suffering from depression.

There was no "cheer up" or "what have you got to be sad about?" - instead Mick and Linda dealt with the problem pragmatically. Mick marched his son down the doctors to get him the help he needed, while Linda helped make him see sense when they discovered he was not taking his medication.

"If you had a broken arm, you'd take a painkiller, wouldn't you?" she told him "If you had an infection, you'd take antibiotics. Or your sister - she takes drugs for her epilepsy. This is no different."

It was a message we don't hear enough of on TV.

The Carters have been through a lot at the hands of their relatives, but somehow they always find it in their hearts to forgive - a rare thing in soapland, where the smallest incident usually drives a deep wedge between family members.

Mick, Tina and Shirley all took their dad Stan in to see out his final days, despite their traumatic childhoods at his hands, while Mick rebuilt a relationship with Shirley, after it was revealed she'd hidden the fact she was his natural mother for his whole life.

That's not to say they haven't had their moments - for a while it looked like Mick's ability to forgive would run out when Nancy was responsible for causing Ollie's accident, which saw the tot injured after a row she had with Lee got out of hand.

But sure enough, Mick proved what a superdad he is once again, when the pair put their differences aside in a touching scene during a trip to the swimming pool. And you know what they say - a family who swims together, stays together.

What's so remarkable about Mick and Linda's relationship is you can tell that they truly, truly love one another and would rather die than be apart (five points if you can name me the last soap couple you said that about). The pair seem properly unbreakable, and Mick's love and support through Linda's rape ordeal at the hands of his brother, Dean, was unwavering.

You also never get the impression they could be tempted away from one another. While that theory could be tested when actress Kellie Bright goes on maternity leave later this year, I have every hope Mick will stay faithful to his beloved 'L', even though I suspect Belinda Slater will give it a damn good try to get him into her bed.

Besides, if soap bosses did have one of them cheat, they'd have Danny Dyer to answer to, as he's said on many occasions he and Kellie would kick off if they were given that storyline. And Mr Dyer is certainly not a man I'd wish to cross.

This summer The Huffington Post UK is spearheading an initiative helping families thrive, with a focus on parent wellbeing, the challenges facing stay-at-home and working parents, friendships and navigating the landscape of modern parenting beyond the 2.4. To kickstart the campaign, Jamie Oliver guest edited the site, bringing a focus on feeding healthy families.

We’ll be sharing stories and blogs with the hashtag #ThrivingFamilies and we’d like you to do the same. If you’d like to use our blogging platform to share your story, email to get involved.