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People won't understand what it is that we've got, they won't understand our love! They'll say I've committed a crime, I'll go back to prison, I'll go away for 20 years! We'll never see each other again, I'll be an old man... so you just look her in the eye and you lie.
~ Tony's quote as he attempts to get Whitney to lie to Bianca about their relationship, which instead causes Bianca to discover Tony's nature as a paedophile who has been sexually abusing Whitney all along.

Tony King is a fictional character and major antagonist of the BBC British soap opera drama EastEnders who appeared from 12 September 2008 to 18 December 2009. He served as a supporting antagonist in 2008 and 2009, before becoming a posthumous antagonist in 2013 and then in between 2019-2020 altogether.

At first Tony started out as the new boyfriend of established character Bianca Jackson and a somewhat father figure to her children, but was revealed to be a pedophile who sexually abused her adopted daughter Whitney Dean for three years - since the latter was 12 years old. Tony was eventually arrested and jailed for his abuse towards Whitney before committing suicide off-screen in 2013.

He is portrayed by actor Chris Coghill.

Biography

Tony King first came to Walford after being released from prison for allegedly beating up a minor. He reunites with his old girlfriend Bianca Jackson and they make plans to start their relationship again. Tony is also the adopted father of Bianca's youngest child Morgan and is a father figure to both Morgan's brother Liam and their sister Tiffany as well.

He soon meets Bianca's adopted daughter, Whitney Dean, and it is revealed that she started a relationship with Tony three years ago. Tony resumes his sexual relationship with Whitney despite feeling less than interested at her more adult appearance. He insists to Whitney that she remove her make-up and jewellery in order to appear more attractive to him. He later becomes jealous of Whitney's schoolmate Peter Beale working with her in a school play and beats him up because of it. Peter's sister Lucy Beale nearly reports Tony to the police until Whitney convinces her not to do that. Tony deceives Whitney into believing they will run away and start a new life together when she turns sixteen. Whitney gives him money she has been keeping for his return and Tony later gives it to Bianca as a deposit for her house in a bid to cover up his secret. When Lucy tells Bianca about Tony attacking Peter and she later tells him off for the incident, he confronts Whitney for supposedly allowing Bianca to discover this and they argue. Tony then realizes that he is no longer attracted to Whitney after she tells him that she isn't a child anymore.

Soon enough, Tony begins to target Whitney's best-friend Lauren Branning. He starts grooming her by feigning support over her mother Tanya Branning being put on trial for falsely running over Lauren's father Max Branning in a car. Tony later manages to acquire a job at a children's community center owned by local pastor Lucas Johnson. This allows Tony to get involved with numerous children such as Lauren and the Beale siblings, as well as Lucas' son Jordan alongside fellow attendees Ben Mitchell and Jay Brown respectively. Whitney discovers what Tony has been doing and later books flights for her to run away with him once she turns 16. Tony attempts to foil her plan by stealing her passport, but it is later found and returned. He again confronts Whitney, but is shocked when she tells Bianca about her relationship with Tony. When Bianca confronts Tony over what Whitney just told her and he tries to pin the blame on her, she realizes that Tony has been sexually abusing Whitney and breaks up with him. She then calls the police and Tony is arrested while Bianca tells Whitney that Tony is a pedophile who has groomed and raped her since she was 12.

By the next day, everyone learns about Tony's pedophilia when his abuse towards Whitney becomes public knowledge around the square; all the local parents such as Lucas and Max, as well as Ben's father Phil Mitchell and both Lucy and Peter's father Ian Beale, are mortified with this discovery upon realizing that any of their children could have been in danger with a pedophile living in the midst. In the meantime, Bianca's ex-husband Ricky Butcher and their mother figure Pat Evans all try to comfort her and their children when they all learn the truth about Tony as well. As they later attempt to nurse Whitney back to health, the police visits Bianca to inform her that Tony has been released on bail under the condition that he stay away from her or Whitney - or even the square in general.

Not long afterwards, however, Tony visits Bianca to try and confront Whitney over not giving a statement to the police. He begins insulting Bianca when she refuses to let him see Whitney, up to the point where he denounces her as a terrible mother. However, Whitney overhears everything and confronts Tony. She orders him to leave her and the family alone. When Tony refuses and attempts to convince Whitney otherwise against Bianca's protests, Ricky intervenes and begins to beat up Tony until the latter flees. Tony then approaches Lucas for help, but Lucas refuses and tells Tony to "rot in hell" before walking away. Everyone else then appears as the police arrive to arrest Tony for breaking his bail conditions, with Pat having already called them over; Tony attempts to flee, but is swiftly apprehended and remanded in custody.

Tony is eventually charged and put on trial. He attempts suicide, but this was a ploy to try and get Whitney to visit him in prison so that Tony can again try to convince her to not send him to jail. But Bianca discovers his plan and stops Whitney from visiting Tony by telling her that it is his form of manipulation. Tony repeatedly attempts to contact Whitney by phone, but after the first day of the trial, he flushes the SIM card down the toilet in his cell. Tony looks set to be acquitted when Whitney refuses to testify against him. Bianca attempts to change her mind by telling that Tony will target other children unless he is put in prison for good. Tony protests his innocence when Whitney is put on the stand. But Tony is shocked when Whitney proclaims that she trusted him and he abused her, finally revealing the extent of his deplorable nature. Ultimately, Tony is found guilty for abusing Whitney and other sexual-assault crimes he has been charged with; he is later sentenced to 13 years in prison before being taken to jail.

In 2013, Tony commits suicide after failing to try and exploit Whitney once more. His death later impacts Whitney in the following years when his son Leo King appears and forges a relationship with Whitney in his campaign to avenge his father's death. But this fails when Whitney discovers who Leo is and she ends up killing him after trying to convince him of his father's evil nature to no avail. Whitney is then kidnapped by Leo's mother Michaela Turnbull as she embarks on a vendetta over her son's murder. But Whitney stops her by explaining how Leo spent his life living up like Tony and also learns that Michaela had previously been aware of Tony's pedophiliac character. Whitney then gets arrested for Leo's murder, but is ultimately released without charged thanks to the efforts of local lawyer Gray Atkins - her apparent friend. Since then, Whitney has appeared to moved on with her life and it all but implies that her prolonging ordeal with Tony is over at last.

Trivia

  • Chris Coghill (the actor who played Tony King) was shortlisted for "Villain of the Year" at the 2009 and 2010 British Soap Awards respectively.

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