EastEnders power couple Phil Mitchell and Lisa Fowler secretly dated off camera

There’s nothing EastEnders fans love more than when on-screen love continues off-screen.

Pretending to be in love with someone is bound to have some real-life effects so it’s no surprise so many couples have found love through their characters.

The real-life people who play one of Eastenders’ most famous couples, Phil Mitchell and Lisa Shaw are one such pair.

Despite a problematic scripted relationship on the show, in real life Steve McFadden and Lucy Benjamin once dated for four years.

Lisa’s character was introduced as the “home-wrecking blonde” on 7 December 1998, and she was described as "feisty, independent and ambitious".

She became more prominently featured the following year with her romantic pairing with Phil Mitchell, which included storylines surrounding miscarriage, emotional and mental abuse, cheating and their daughter Louise Mitchell.

Steve and Lucy’s relationship began in 1999 and continued until 2003 when they broke up, which Steve blamed on the phone hacking scandal aftermath.

However, they have managed to remain friendly and work together when Lucy returned to the cobbled streets briefly in 2010, 2017 and 2019-2020.

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Speaking on Loose Women in 2017, Lucy said: "You just resort back to their storylines and the things they have gone through as characters. We didn't have to think about me and Steve and the old days.

"There is so much stuff between Lisa and Phil. It was easy to play that."

She added: "It was strange really, but lovely to be working with Steve, Tish and Natalie Cassidy again.

"It was just like being with mates. They have been doing fabulous work and I knew that they would look after me and have my back upon my return."

Both Lucy and Steve played instrumental roles in the dramatic Who Shot Phil? storyline in 2001.

Lisa was eventually revealed to be the culprit and her confession was watched by an estimated 22 million people and caused the third-largest power surge on record.

EastEnders continues tonight at 8.05pm on BBC.

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