Christine Hewitt (often credited as Mrs. Hewitt) is a fictional character from the BBC soap opera EastEnders, played by Elizabeth Power. Introduced in 1992 as a lonely divorcÃ©e, she becomes besotted with married Arthur Fowler (Bill Treacher) while he tends her garden. She leaves in 1993 once her affair with Arthur is discovered by his wife Pauline (Wendy Richard).
Christine is first seen in February 1992, as a client of Arthur Fowler (Bill Treacher) who is hiring himself out as a gardener. After Arthur advertises for a new garedening assistant, he is shocked when Christine arrives in Walford, enquiring about the job. She wants it for her son Johnathan (Jonny Lee Miller), but when he proves lazy and unreliable, an embrrassed Mrs Hewitt takes his place as Arthur's assistant.
In May 1992, a phonecall from New Zealand brings news that Kenny Beale (Michael Attwell) has been in a car crash, so Arthur's wife Pauline (Wendy Richard) decides to go there to tend to her crippled brother. While Pauline is away, Christine becomes a regular visitor to Albert Square, causing a certain amount of gossip, and it is clear that she is becoming very fond of Arthur. Arthur is oblivious, but Pauline's brother, Pete Beale (Peter Dean) is more astute and he tries to remind Christine that Arthur is a married man. However, Christine manages to win him round and Pete starts taking her out for a while instead. In August, things come to a head when Christine actually makes a pass at Arthur. He turns her down and she disappears, sending him a letter and a photo conveying her feelings. Arthur visits her at her house, and tells her that he feels something for her too, but is married and loves his wife. They say goodbye and the matter seems to be over.
When Pauline comes home, however, she learns all about Christine from gossips such as Dot Cotton (June Brown). She initially believes Arthur when he feigns innocence, but all that changes when she discovers Christine's letter and photo. A furious Pauline then visits Christine to discover the truth, and finds her to be a sad, lonely figure who drinks too much of an afternoon. Pauline is then persuaded to forgive and forget, but Arthur cannot resist one last rendezvous with Christine himself, which gives her renewed hope. Over the next few weeks, Arthur keeps finding excuses to drop in on Christine, until she tells him not to come unless he means business. On Christmas Eve, Arthur sneaks away from home to be with Christine and finally the inevitable happens and they end the night having sex together.
The affair continues during 1993 with Arthur continuously running between Christine and Pauline. Christine becomes more needy and manipulative, cooking up absurd lies and a fake burglary to lure Arthur round, then hitting the bottle if he refuses to come. Kathy Beale's (Gillian Taylforth) decision to open the cafÃ© in the evenings as a bistro gives Christine an opportunity to see more of Arthur â" she applies to be the cook and gets the job. However, working in Walford is not enough for Christine, and she begins to make greater demands on Arthur, asking him to choose between her and Pauline. Arthur manages to put her off and begins having second thoughts about their affair, after which Christine's behaviour becomes more erratic. She begins stalking Arthur around the Square, drunkenly declaring her love for him, buying inappropriate gifts for his son Martin (Jon Peyton Price) and threatening to tell Pauline unless he tells her first.
In September, under severe pressure, Arthur finally tells Pauline the truth, and tries to tell her that he wants her and not Christine. Hurt, embarrassed and angry, Pauline refuses to listen and throws him out, but not before hitting him on the head with a frying pan. This spells the end for Christine, as Arthur then decides he wants nothing more to do with her, and in October she disappears to face a lonely future, divorced by her husband Greg, and ditched by her lover.
Creation and development
Elizabeth Power was offered the role by one of the programme's producers, Leonard Lewis, for whom she'd worked with previously on Juliet Bravo and Softly, Softly. She has commented "I got a call out of the blue asking if I could go up to the BBC at Elstree to meet him. Mrs Hewitt was going to be in five episodes and I thought, 'wonderful'." Mrs Hewitt makes her first appearance on-screen in February 1992, as a lonely divorcee who employs the long running character, Arthur Fowler (Bill Treacher), to tend to her gardenâ"used as a plot device to rebuild Arthur's relationship with his son Mark Fowler (Todd Carty), while they work together on Christine's garden. Power filmed her scenes for the five episodes and thought that would be the end of it; however, she was subsequently contacted by Leonard Lewis and asked to reprise the role. Power commented "It was all I could do to stop myself screeching down the phone. They didn't tell me which direction the story was going to take. I got on so well with [Bill Treacher] from the word go. We really liked each other." Mrs Hewitt was reintroduced in a storyline that saw her become Arthur Fowler's mistress, but when the affair ended Power left the series, making her final appearance on-screen in October 1993.
The unlikely affair between Christine and Arthur was dubbed the 'Bonk of the Year' by tabloids in the British press.
According to Power, director, Russell Mulcahy was a fan of EastEnders and while in Hollywood he used to get friends to video the Arthur and Mrs Hewitt scenes. It was due to his like of the storyline and characters that he cast Power and Treacher opposite one another again in the film Tale of the Mummy. She has commented, "he thought it would be a good idea to get us together again. He thought it would be a great joke. We played a caretaker and his wife."