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"Well now it's payback time. And I am gonna enjoy every gut-wrenching, tear-jerking, minute of it all!"
~ Steve Owen vows to get revenge on his archenemy Phil Mitchell for sleeping with his wife Mel back on Christmas 2000.

Steve Owen is a fictional character and recurring antagonist of the British soap opera EastEnders. He was a seasoned gangster, nightclub owner, career criminal, and illegitimate businessman who first appeared in 29 December 1998 and became the show's central antagonist from 1999 to 2002 until he was killed-off in 1st March 2002. He also served as a posthumous antagonist in 2018 and 2019.

During his time on the serial, Steve married his love interest Mel Owen, killed his ex-girlfriend Saskia Duncan before framing his employee Matthew Rose for the murder, clashed with business rivals Grant Mitchell and Dan Sullivan on different accounts, and was the archenemy of alpha-male hardman Phil Mitchell that further contributed in a high-profiled storyline dubbed "Who Shot Phil?".

He is portrayed by former actor and musician Martin Kemp.

Biography

Steve Owen first appeared in Albert Square as the new owner of the local Market Cellar club. He later renovates and renames the nightclub E20. Steve turns out to be a gangster and career criminal who wishes to become a legitimate businessman. But then his ex-girlfriend Saskia Duncan appears and begins to harass Steve for begin alleged to be the reason for Saskia aborting her child. Steve states that he never wanted to have a baby with Saskia. He soon begins a relationship with Mel Healy and attempts to woo her on the E20 opening night. Saskia confronts them to try and split them up in an effort to wind Steve up further. Mel leaves and Steve then tries to get Saskia to leave as well. Saskia instead attacks Steve and his employee Matthew Rose walks in on the incident. He tries to stop Saskia to no avail and she begins to strangle Steve with his tie. But Steve stops Saskia by hitting her on the head with an ash tray, killing her in the process.

Steve then stops Matthew from calling the police and forces him to dump her body in a forest. He then begins to intimidate Matthew in keeping quiet about the incident. This changes when Saskia's body is found months later and Matthew tries to leave the Square with his girlfriend Teresa Di Marco. Steve resolves to incriminate Matthew for the crime and has them arrested before he himself is taken into custody too. Both are remanded in custody until the trial emerges and Steve and Matthew continue to dispute over Saskia's murder. They are trialed and charged for murder and manslaughter. Both receive not guilty verdicts for murder, but while Steve is acquitted from manslaughter, Matthew is guilty on that charge and sentenced to 7 years in prison. Steve is later released and becomes partly shunned in the Square for framing Matthew. He nevertheless manages to win over Mel and she begins dating him after her wedding to Ian Beale ends in disaster due to Ian's lies. But Steve is surprised when Matthew reappears during the Millennium celebrations and learns that he has been released from prison early due to good behavior. Steve later finds him being targeted in a number of situations that Matthew is staging to avenge his wrongful imprisonment. The two ultimately have a final confrontation when Matthew demands £10,000 from Steve and threatens to incriminate him for killing Saskia's sister Claudia Fleming. Steve rebuffs Matthew's attempt to threaten him until it becomes apparent that Matthew has killed her. He tries to threaten Matthew with a handgun and stop him from leaving E20. But Matthew knocks out Steve and is about to burn the E20. But this turns out to be a hoax and that Matthew had never really killed anyone; he just wanted to humiliate Steve in the same manner how Steve tormented Matthew a year ago. Matthew then leaves the Square and is never seen again.

Steve meanwhile begins feuding with the Mitchell Brothers. Phil Mitchell becomes Steve's archenemy while his brother Grant Mitchell clashes with Steve in their business partnership with Annie Palmer, who soon leaves the country to help her father George Palmer with his organized crime business expansions in New Zealand. The conflict between Grant and Steve thereafter goes on until the day when Grant is due to join Phil on a criminal job. That day Steve confronts Grant and antagonizes him about his business management, stating they have "unfinished matters". Grant sarcastically agrees and punches Steve before leaving the area. It is then Steve develops a rivalry with local hardman Dan Sullivan after learning that the latter had previously dated Mel and is now terrorizing her for supposedly helping Phil con Dan's ownership of The Queen Victoria public house. Steve confronts Dan with a gun and threatens him into leaving the Square for good. He also hires Phil's cousin Billy Mitchell to become his errand boy and has a quarrel with Jamie Mitchell as well in the events of Steve's feud with Phil and Matthew, as he and Jamie were best-friends. Steve's feud with Phil escalates after Phil secretly deals with Beppe Di Marco behind Steve's back. They fight before Christmas 2000 and Steve vows revenge on Phil.

Steve eventually marries Mel but finds out that she slept with Phil and that Dan is back to get revenge on him. Phil is later shot on the night Steve and Mel have their honeymoon. When they return Steve is the prime suspect after Phil's mother Peggy Mitchell accuses him of shooting her son. Steve is arrested but released without charge. Steve is later proven to be innocent when Phil confronts the real shooter, his ex-girlfriend Lisa Shaw. Phil then plans to frame Steve for the crime, but Steve instead suggests to Phil that he frame Dan instead due to them having a common enemy. Phil does frame Dan and asks Steve to conspire against him in the hopes that Steve would be an accessory of his shooting. Steve realizes Phil's game but goes along with it in order to get rid of Dan for good. This fails when Dan is found not guilty and he plans revenge on Phil and Steve for conspiring to frame him for Phil's shooting. Dan kidnaps Mel and blackmails Steve and Phil into giving him £200,000 for her ransom. They oblige and Steve relinquishes his ownership of The Queen Vic for Mel's freedom. Phil then tries to take down Dan, but fails and Dan flees the Square with his ransom money. Mel returns to Steve safe and leaves the Square after learning from Phil and Dan of her husband's criminal activities.

Steve then learns that his insurance in invalid due to neglecting to mention his previous crimes of illegally importing duty-free wine from France and killing Saskia. He then plans a heist with Billy and recruits his old crew to the job. They succeed but Steve betrays them all by taking the money for himself. This clears his debt and he wins Mel round again. She later confronts him when his mother Barbara dies and he doesn't take it seriously. Steve explains that his mother neglected both him and his sister Jackie when they were kids and is also the reason why their father Richard had died. Steve and Phil's rivalry quickly reaches breaking point. Steve gets Phil arrested for provoking him into attacking him after Steve manipulates Phil into believing that he slept with his former lover Sharon Watts. Later Steve sleeps with Phil's sister Sam Mitchell to avenge the Mel-Phil affair a year ago. Phil retaliates by summoning Steve's betrayed crew members to the E20 and they threaten to kill Steve unless he repays them. Steve instead plans to leave the country with Mel, Lisa, her boyfriend Mark Fowler, and Lisa and Phil's baby daughter Louise Mitchell. Steve makes many false promises on his loose ends that leads to him kidnapping Louise and Phil perusing them in a high-speed car chase. This ends with Steve crashing his car. He is unable to escape the wreckage and helps Phil save Louise. Phil then tries to save Steve but is too late as the car explodes, killing Steve as Phil watches on.

After Steve's death, Mel gets arrested when it's revealed that Steve had been manhandling drug trafficking and money laundering behind her back and she is falsely implicated of abetting her husband's crimes. Phil bails her out and Mel later leaves Walford after finding out that she is pregnant with Steve's child Hunter Owen.

Legacy

In 2018, Steve is referenced again when Mel returns to the square not long after Phil has partaken a heist that was planned by his partner-in-crime Aidan Maguire. Later on, Hunter comes to Walford in the care of Aidan's ex-wife Ciara Maguire and eventually learns from her the truth about Steve; that he wasn't a good man who died heroically as Mel had originally claimed, but was in fact a villain who killed his ex-girlfriend before eventually dying in a road accident.

When Hunter learns from Sharon that Phil is partly responsible for Steve's death, he confronts him and Phil is forced to explain to Hunter about how his father died. By then Hunter has a relationship with Louise and they each grow concerned for Mel over her engagement with corrupt policeman Ray Kelly. It turns out that Ray is a bigamist, and Hunter ends up killing him when Ray attempts to murder him and Mel on New Year's Day 2019.

Mel's subsequent boyfriend Jack Branning learns what happened and Hunter is detained in police custody. He goes to prison until months later when Hunter escapes and plans to get revenge on Jack, brandishing a gun in the process. Hunter then causes a siege in the pub and takes hostages, including Louise. The police arrive and Hunter takes Louise hostage as a human shield, shooting both her brother Ben Mitchell and boyfriend Keanu Taylor in the process. But in the end Hunter is shot dead by a police marksman; at his funeral he is buried next to his late father. Mel then dies a few months later after her dispute with Sharon ends virtually the same way as how Steve perished in his rivalry with Phil.

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Trivia

  • For his critically-acclaimed performance in playing Steve Owen, actor Martin Kemp won numerous awards at the British Soap Awards for his portrayal.
    • He was nominated for and won two separate "Best Actor" and "Sexiest Male" awards, won "Villain of the Year" in the 2000 year after being nominated for the role in the other years, and was also nominated for "Best Exit" in the 2002 awards ceremony.
  • Steve Owen is regarded as one of the best soap villains of all-time.
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