The Government has stepped up pressure on the Kremlin today by forcing the BBC to cancel a forthcoming EastEnders plot line which involved a small cameo by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Foreign Secretary William Hague confirmed that the filming which was due to take place next week has been postponed until Russia withdraws its troops from the Crimea. Speaking outside the UN Hague said 'this sends a clear and unequivocal message to Moscow that we mean business'. It had been widely expected that western governments would impose economic sanctions, visa bans and freeze Russian assets but the cancelling of President Putin's Walford Square walk-on has sent shock-waves through Russian diplomatic circles. At a press conference earlier this week William Hague told reporters that 'all options were still on the table' but the scale of the move is seen by some experts as a high risk strategy which could backfire. One senior Russian diplomat told us 'this is a serious escalation and a complete over-reaction, if the west wants war in the Ukraine it can have it'.
The plot line was believed to involve President Putin, who plays himself, turning up in Walford Square after his driver gets lost on his way to a function at Downing Street When he gets out of his limousine to ask directions he becomes embroiled in an argument with Danny Dyer's character Mick Carter which culminates in Carter shouting 'Oi Abramovich, get off my manor!' Putin is said to be a massive fan of the show and has been a regular viewer since it began in 1985. One Kremlin insider told us that Putin had even based his Presidential style on some of the shows characters 'his approach to leadership is a volatile mix of Dirty Den, Grant Mitchell and Pat Butcher' he told us.
Dyer is 'gutted' that the storyline has been cancelled and had this advice for the people of Ukraine 'I dunno much about it but they should do what Mick Carter would do and tell Putin to 'get off my manor', hahaha'. It is as yet unclear whether this message has been relayed to the Ukrainian Government.