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My pub, my rules, and I want you out!
~ Willmott-Brown revealing to the Square that he now owns the Queen Vic.

James Willmott-Brown is a fictional character and recurring antagonist of the BBC British soap-opera Eastenders.

He first appeared as a central character in 1986 and went on to serve as one of the main antagonists in between 1987-1989, a secondary antagonist in 1992, and the primary antagonist in 2017.

He was portrayed by William Boyde.

Character Development

Introduced in 1986, Willmott-Brown was a businessman who owned The Dagmar wine bar and established himself as a rival to Den Watts, the landlord of the Queen Victoria. He is best known for raping Kathy Beale in 1988, and he left the show the following year. He made a reappearance in 1992 before departing again, and would not appear for the next 25 years until he was reintroduced in 2017. Boyde departed once again in December of that year.

Biography

1986-89

James Willmott-Brown, a former officer in the army, first arrived in Walford as a representative to the Luxford and Copley brewery, which owned the Queen Victoria. He decided to move into the area and bought Debbie Wilkin's house on Albert Square, which she had put up for sale after the death of her boyfriend, Andy O'Brien. James and Debbie began dating briefly, but the relationship didn't last, and Pat Butcher also attempted to seduce him unsuccessfully. He also became friends with Colin Russell.

Wilmott-Brown eventually decided to quit his job as brewery manager and bought a disused brewery on Turpin Road, which he refurbished into a wine bar named The Dagmar. He hired Angie Watts as manageress, much the anger of Den Watts, her estranged husband and landlord of the Queen Vic. James also allowed Angie and her daughter Sharon to live in the flat above The Dagmar. After the wine bar opened for business, James and Den began to compete for best decorated pub for the 'London in Bloom' competition, as well as in a five-star football match, and attempted to poach each others staff.

As time went on however, the Dagmar began to lose business, due to the people of Walford never taking to the upper-class establishment, as well as rival businesses such as the Vic and the Strokes wine bar (which Den managed after giving up his tenancy of the former). At the same time, James was approached by 'Walford Investments' (the cover for a criminal organization known as 'The Firm'), who demanded that he allow them to buy into his business. James refused, and as a result caused his business to suffer further when his creditors refused to trade with him. Upon learning that Den was a member of the Firm, Willmott-Brown reported him to the police, but Dagmar barman Simon Wicks overheard him and informed Den. When the residents of Walford found out what James had done, he subsequently lost all of his customers, leaving him in financial ruin and causing him to begin behaving erratically.

At the same time, James hired Kathy Beale as a barmaid at the Dagmar, much to the anger of her husband, Pete. The rift between th couple worsened when it became clear that James was romantically interested in Kathy. With the people of Walford ignoring him, Kathy became his only friend; James began buying her expensive gifts and confiding in her about the state of his business, as well as how his marriage fell apart and how it effected his children, Sophie and Luke. One night, after Kathy and Pete had another fight regarding how much time she was spending with James, he invited Kathy to his home for a glass of wine after work, intending to seduce her. However, when Kathy realized what James was doing and attempted to leave, he raped her.

Upon finding Kathy in an emotional wreck and realizing what had happened, Den called his contacts within The Firm in order to get revenge. The Dagmar was subsequently fire-bombed and Den was arrested for arson, with The Firm demanding he take the blame for the arson and eventually deciding to kill him. Willmott-Brown was horrified when he returned days later and saw what had become of the Dagmar, and the residents of Albert Square began to treat him with open hostility.

When Kathy revealed her rape to the police and Willmott-Brown was arrested, he claimed that he and Kathy had been in an affair and she had had consensual sex with him; when asked about Kathy's bruises, he claimed they were from a rampant sexual encounter and suggested that Pete was a violent man and Kathy had claimed she'd been raped to avoid her husband's wrath. Smugly believing that he had said enough to fool the police, Willmott-Brown was shocked to find himself charged with rape. Before he could stand trial for his crime, he attempted to bribe Kathy to drop the charges, and while she pretended to accept his money, D.I. Bob Ashley was actually listening in on them next door. James was subsequently found guilty and sentenced to three years in prison. His actions destroyed Kathy and Pete's marriage, as she could no longer stand him touching her, and they separated shortly afterward.

1992

Willmott-Brown was released in 1992 and returned to Albert Square, attempting to buy flats that Phil and Grant Mitchell had put up for sale. Planning to move back to Walford and set up a new business, he sent a tape message to Kathy asking her to meet him in his hotel room in Hampstead; he promised to disappear forever if she objected. Upon learning of James's return, Pete formed a mob to find him while Kathy planned to take him up on his offer. Finding him before Pete could, she listened to James bemone about his time in prison and how much the experience had changed him, before telling him to leave Walford and never return. Despite promising to her that he would, he refused to do so, leaving Kathy feeling repulsed and rejected. Unknown to her, Pete had arrived to exact his revenge; he and his mobbed forced James into their car and drove him to Pete's high-rise flat building, where Pete threatened to punch him to his death unless he signed a paper stating he would leave Walford forever. Immediately following the events, Willmott-Brown called his solicitor and took out a injunction on Pete, but proceeded to move onto the Square. He also continued to send Kathy tapes, confessing his undying love for her.

Eventually, Kathy and Pete confronted James at his home, with Pete and James nearly coming to blows. An emotional Kathy finally relayed her anger and hurt over the rape and how furious she was with Wilmott-Brown for never apologizing for his actions. James claimed that the two of them had something that was truly special, but Kathy snapped him out of his delusion by showing him how he had destruction he had brought on her and her family. In an attempt to get attention, James threatened to commit suicide, but Kathy stopped him, refusing to allow him to get off the hook so easily. Despite finally apologizing for raping her and begging for her forgiveness, she refused to forgive Wilmott-Brown for his actions, believing that doing so would give him permission to stop feeling sorry for what he had done. Declaring that she would never do anything he asked her to again, including forgiving, Kathy finally received closure over the rape, while James left Walford in defeat.

Two years later, in 1994, Kathy began having nightmares about her rape, so her new husband Phil went to search for James. He tracked down Wilmott-Brown's wife, Elizabeth, who informed him that her husband was back in prison for raping another woman.

2017

Twenty-five years after leaving Walford, James anonymously lays flowers addressed to Kathy at a memorial for her step-grandson Steven Beale. He reappears the following day when it's revealed that he is the mastermind behind the collusion between his own property development company - Weyland and Co - and their associate: Max Branning, who himself is conspiring with James to redevelop Albert Square as part of his own campaign to exact revenge on his family and friends for wrongfully imprisoning him for the murder of Lucy Beale as well as covering up the involvement of it's true culprit: Kathy's grandson Bobby Beale.

Prior to these events, Max had became inmates with James' convicted son Luke Browning during his time in prison - which led to Luke parting his father's scheme to Max and inviting him to become involved so he could exact vengeance on those who wronged him. Since his release, Max has secretly instigated and executed numerous activities that Weyland and Co had perpetuated on James' behalf - culminating with his role in the death of Steven shortly after blackmailing him into committing arson. Weeks later, Luke is released and reunites with Max before the pair meet up with the rest of James' family; consisting of his daughter Fi, adopted son Josh Hammings, and brother-in-law Hugo Browning.

James then appears for the first time in twenty-five years introducing himself to Max as he too reunites with his own family.

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