September 2006 -
It was honours even for 'EastEnders' and 'Coronation Street' at the Inside Soap Awards in London last night, with the soaps winning six awards each.
'EastEnders' was named Best Soap and there were also awards for onscreen couple Lacey Turner (Stacey Slater) and Charlie Clements (Bradley Branning) who were named Best Actress and Best Newcomer. The duo also shared the award for Best Couple.
'EastEnders' clan the Mitchells were named Best Family and Kara Tointon (Dawn Swann) was named Sexiest Female. 'Coronation Street' star Bradley Walsh (Danny Baldwin) was named Best Actor with his co-stars Richard Fleeshman (Craig Harris) and Bill Ward (Charlie Stubbs) winning the awards for Sexiest Male and Best Bad Boy respectively.
EastEnders - Peggy, Phill and Grant Mitchell
Antony Cotton, who plays Sean Tully in 'Coronation Street', won the award for Funniest Character, with Samia Smith (Maria Sutherland) winning the Best Dressed award. 'Coronation Street' veteran Helen Worth (Gail Platt) won the Outstanding Achievement award.
Patsy Kensit won the Best Bitch award for her portrayal of Sadie King in 'Emmerdale' while Sam and Alice Dingle's story in the soap was named Best Storyline. 'Hollyoaks' star Ellis Hollins (Tom Cunningham) was named Best Young Actor and 'The Bill' was named Best Drama.
EastEnders storylines examine the domestic and professional lives of the people who live and work in Albert Square, a Victorian square of terraced houses, a pub, a street market and various small businesses, in the East End of London.
The series was originally screened as two half-hour episodes a week. Today four episodes are broadcast each week and an omnibus edition screens on Sunday afternoons. It is one of the UK's highest-rated programmes, often appearing near or at the top of the week's BARB ratings. Within eight months of its launch, it reached the number one spot in the ratings, and has almost consistently remained amongst the top-rated programmes in Britain ever since. The average audience share for an episode is currently between 45 and 50% The invention of producer Julia Smith and script editor Tony Holland, EastEnders has remained significant in terms of the BBC's success and audience share, and also the history of British television drama, tackling many controversial and taboo issues previously unseen on mainstream television in the UK.
EastEnders has won five BAFTA Awards, and consistently won the Inside Soap Award for 'Best Soap' for ten years running, as well as eight National Television Awards for 'Most Popular Serial Drama' and five awards for 'Best Soap' at the British Soap Awards. It has also been inducted into the Rose d'Or Hall of Fame.
Kevin makes a run for it - Fri 08 Dec 2006
Kevin pledges to keep Shirley's identity from Deano and Carly. Evie makes her dying wish to Bert
Watch clip in broadband or narrowband. - Mon 11 Dec 2006
News of Pauline's brain tumour spreads around the Square, but Joe uncovers some holes in her claim.
Richard is to quit her role as Pauline Fowler in EastEnders -
EastEnders - Wendy Richard (Pauline Fowler) is to leave
Setting and characters - Setting
EastEnders is set in the fictional London Borough of Walford. However, the central focus of the show is that of the equally fictional Victorian square named Albert Square.
The fictional Albert Square was built around the early 20th century, named after Prince Albert (18191861), the husband of Queen Victoria (18191901, reigned 18371901). Thus, central to Albert Square is The Queen Victoria Public House.
In the past, fans have tried to establish the actual location of Walford within London. Walford East is a fictional tube station for Walford, and with the aid of a map that was first seen on air in 1996, it has been established that Walford East is located between Bow Road and West Ham, which realistically would replace Bromley-by-Bow.
Walford has the postal district of E20, thus fans have also tried to pinpoint the location using this. However, realistically, London East postal districts stop at E18; the show's creators opted for E20 instead of E19 as it was thought to sound better.
The strongest claim to being the 'real' Albert Square is held by Broadway Market in Hackney, a short pedestrianised road that features a weekly market and established street vendors. The postcode for the area, E8, was one of the working titles for the series.
In reality, at least two Albert Squares do exist in the East End of London, one in Stratford and the other in Ratcliff, E1. However, the show's producers actually based the Square's design on the real life Fassett Square in the East End. The name Walford is a portmanteau of Walthamstow and Stratford the areas of London where the creators were born.
EastEnders Stacey Slater
EastEnders was built around the ideas of 'clans' of strong families and each character having a place in the community. Co-creator Tony Holland was himself from a large East End family, and such families have typified EastEnders. The first central family was the Beale and Fowler clan consisting of Pauline Fowler, her husband Arthur, and teenage children Mark and Michelle. Living nearby was Pauline's twin brother Pete Beale, his wife Kathy and their son Ian. Pauline and Pete's mother was the domineering Lou, who resided with Pauline and her family. Holland drew on the names of his own family for the characters.
The Watts and Mitchell families have been central to many of the notable EastEnders storylines and Peggy Mitchell, in particular, is notorious for her ceaseless repetition of such statements as "You're a Mitchell!" and "It's all about family!". The 2000s saw a new focus on the largely female Slater clan, before the return of an emphasis on the Watts and Mitchell families. Key people involved in the production of EastEnders have stressed how important this idea of strong families is to the programme.
Some families feature a stereotypical East End matriarch such as Lou Beale, Pauline Fowler, Mo Harris and Peggy Mitchell. These characters are seen as being loud and interfering but most importantly, responsible for the well-being of the family and usually stressing the importance of family, reflecting on the past.
EastEnders also features a number of elderly residents, who are used to show vulnerability and stalwart-like characters and sometimes for comedic purposes. The original elderly residents included Lou Beale, Ethel Skinner and Dot Cotton. Over the years they have been joined by the likes of Jules Tavernier, Mo Butcher, Nellie Ellis, Jim Branning, Patrick Trueman and Mo Harris.
EastEnders has been known to have a "comedy double-act" in the show, previously demonstrated with the characters of Huw Edwards and Lenny Wallace, and currently seen with Garry Hobbs and Minty Peterson.
Another recurring character type is the smartly dressed businessman, often involved in gang culture and crime, who is seen as a local authority figure. Examples include Den Watts, James Wilmott-Brown, Steve Owen, Jack Dalton, Andy Hunter and Johnny Allen.
After the loss of many much-loved characters in 2005 and early 2006, such as Sam Mitchell, Chrissie Watts, Zoe Slater, Nana, Kat and Alfie Moon, Johnny Allen, Dennis Rickman and Little Mo Mitchell, the first half of 2006 saw many new long-term arrivals including Deano, Carly and Kevin Wicks, Bradley, Max, Tanya, Lauren and Abi Branning, Bert Atkinson, Denise, Chelsea and Squiggle Fox, Rob Minter, and Sean Slater, and shorter-term characters such as Dr. Oliver Cousins, Elaine Jarvis, Sarah-Jane Fletcher, Owen Turner, Caroline Bishop, and Jack Edwards, who was originally to be played by David Essex. Essex couldn't commit to further filming beyond a month long contract, so his character was recast to be played by Nicky Henson.
2006 also saw the arrivals of Liz Turner, Stella Crawford, Preeti Choraria, Li Chong, Shirley Carter, Evie Brown, and a short return for Grant and Courtney Mitchell, as well as the return of Ben Mitchell as a permanent character.
The introduction of new characters is now slowing down, with just Jay Brown due to arrive in December, and Shirley Carter due to return in January 2007.
The show has also become known for the return of characters after they have left the show. Sharon Rickman has departed seven times, and returned six times, Frank Butcher has completed six separate stints on the programme, and writers stunned viewers by bringing back Den Watts, fourteen years after he had seemingly died.
Currently, the production team of EastEnders consists of:
EastEnders Dawn Swan
EastEnders is filmed at the BBC Elstree Centre in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire. An aerial photo of the set can be seen here. There are four episodes filmed per week, and are usually filmed about 67 weeks in advance of broadcast. During the winter period, filming often takes place up to 8 or 9 weeks in advance, due to less daylight for outdoor filming sessions. The famous two-handers (when only two actors appear in an episode) was originally done for speed; while they film that, the rest of the cast can be making another episode.
Online fans have the chance to watch filming on the EastEnders webcam, which is on the official BBC EastEnders website. It shows updated stills of Albert Square, Turpin Road and George Street. The page also displays which episode is currently being filmed, the date it will be broadcast, and an extract of the script from that episode.
During the 2006 FIFA World Cup, actors filmed short scenes following the tournament's events, that were edited into the programme in the following episode.
In the 1980s, EastEnders featured gritty storylines involving drugs and crime, representing the issues faced by working-class Britain much as Coronation Street did in the 1960s.
However EastEnders has, for the most part, remained a populist series and has generally avoided the arguably tougher stories of Brookside. Brookside had also launched as a social realist drama, leading the way for more conservative soaps like EastEnders to follow. Arguably, the difference between them was that whilst Brookside confronted issues, it was more sensationalist and EastEnders tried to maintain realism.
The programme makers emphasised that it was to be about 'everyday life' in the inner city 'today' and regarded it as a 'slice of life'. Creator/producer Julia Smith declared that "We don't make life, we reflect it". She also said, "We decided to go for a realistic, fairly outspoken type of drama which could encompass stories about homosexuality, rape, unemployment, racial prejudice, etc., in a believable context. Above all, we wanted realism".
Such storylines include Sue and Ali Osman's baby's cot death, Nick Cotton's homophobia and drug addiction, the rape of Kathy Beale in 1988 and Michelle Fowler's teenage pregnancy. The show also dealt with drug dealing, prostitution, mixed-race relationships, shoplifting, sexism, racism, divorce and muggings.
As the show progressed into the 1990s, EastEnders still featured hard-hitting issues such as Mark Fowler discovering he was HIV positive in 1991 and the death of his wife Gill from AIDS-related illness, murder, adoption, Peggy Mitchell's breast cancer and mastectomy, and Phil Mitchell's alcoholism and domestic violence towards wife Kathy.
In the early 2000s, EastEnders covered the issue of euthanasia with long-established characters Ethel Skinner and Dot Cotton, Kat Slater's abuse by her uncle Harry as a child, the domestic abuse of Little Mo Morgan by husband Trevor, Sonia Jackson giving birth at the age of fifteen and then putting the baby up for adoption, and Janine Butcher's prostitution, agoraphobia and drug addiction. The soap has also recently tackled the issues of illiteracy, mental health, and carers of people who have mental conditions. This has been illustrated with mother and daughter Jean and Stacey Slater; Jean suffers from bipolar disorder, and Stacey was her carer (this storyline won a Mental Health Media Award in September 2006). Mental health issues were also confronted in 1996 when Joe Wicks developed schizophrenia. The issue of illiteracy was highlighted by the characters of Keith and Darren Miller. EastEnders is currently covering the issue of Down's syndrome, as Billy and Honey's baby, Petal, has been born with the condition.
Aside from this, soap opera staples of youthful romance, jealousy, domestic rivalry, kitchen disasters, gossip, community fund-raising events and extra-marital affairs are regularly featured.
Tony Holland and Julia Smith, the creators of EastEnders
EastEnders was created by script writer Tony Holland and producer Julia Smith. They created twenty-four original characters for the show; Arthur, Pauline, Mark and Michelle Fowler, Lou, Pete, Kathy and Ian Beale, Den, Angie and Sharon Watts, Ali and Sue Osman, Kelvin and Tony Carpenter, Saeed and Naima Jeffery, Lofty Holloway, Mary Smith, Ethel Skinner, Nick Cotton, Dr. Harold Legg, Andy O'Brien and Debbie Wilkins.
They cast actors for their characters, and began to film the show at the BBC Elstree Centre in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire. Simon May and Alan Jeapes created the title sequence, and the show with a working title of East 8 was renamed Eastenders. Julia Smith thought "Eastenders" "looked ugly written down", and capitalised the second 'e'. The show was first broadcast on 19 February 1985.
As previously mentioned, EastEnders proved highly popular and Appreciation Indexes reflected this, rising from 5560 at the launch to 8595 later on, a figure which was nearly ten points higher than the average for British soap opera. Research suggested that people found the characters true to life, the plots believable and, importantly in the face of criticism of the content, people watched as a family and regarded it as viewing for all the family.
On Christmas Day 1986, EastEnders attracted a massive 30.15 million viewers who tuned in to see Den Watts hand over divorce papers to wife Angie. This remains the highest rated episode of a soap in British television history.
EastEnders is one of the more popular programmes on British television and regularly attracts between 7 and 13 million viewers and while the show's ratings have fallen since its initial surge in popularity and it generally rates lower than its ITV rival Coronation Street, the programme continues to be largely lucrative for the BBC.
Its main rival for ratings is usually Coronation Street. In order to maximise ratings, the BBC and ITV are usually careful to avoid scheduling clashes between their flagship soaps. In 2001 however, the soaps clashed for the first time. EastEnders won the battle with 8.4 million viewers (41% share) whilst Coronation Street lagged behind with 7.3 million viewers (36% share).
On 21 September 2004, Louise Berridge, the then executive producer, quit following criticism of the show. The following day the show received its lowest ever ratings at that time (6.2 million) when ITV scheduled an hour long episode of Emmerdale against it. Emmerdale was watched by 8.1 million people. The poor ratings motivated the press into reporting viewers were bored with implausible and ill thought out storylines. Kathleen Hutchison, who had been the executive producer of hospital drama Holby City, was announced as the new executive producer. Within a few weeks, she announced a major shake-up of the cast with the highly-criticised Ferreira family, first seen in June 2003, set to leave at the beginning of 2005. Kathleen Hutchison went on to axe Sasha Perkins, Andy Hunter, Kate Mitchell, Juley Smith and Derek Harkinson. Whilst she was there, she set about reversing the previous executive producer's work. It indicated a fresh start for EastEnders after declining ratings in 2004.
But in January 2005, after just four months, it was the end for Kathleen Hutchison. John Yorke who led EastEnders through what Mal Young (the then head of BBC drama) said was one of its most successful periods in 2001, returned to the BBC as the head of drama, meaning his responsibilities included the running of EastEnders. He also brought back long serving script writer Tony Jordan. It is reported that the cast and crew did not get on well with Kathleen Hutchison as she had them working up to midnight and beyond. She is also said to have rejected several planned storylines and demanded re-writes. This was one of the reasons storylines such as the 'Real Walford' football team were suddenly ignored. But through her short reign she led EastEnders to some of its most healthy viewing figures in months.
John Yorke immediately stepped into her position until a few weeks later when Kate Harwood was announced as the new executive producer.
In the autumn of 2005, EastEnders had seen its average audience share increase, with the unearthing of Den Watts' body and the marriage of Sharon and Dennis. Weeks after this, ITV again scheduled episodes of Emmerdale against EastEnders. The episode of Emmerdale, which saw the departure of one of its more popular characters, attracted 8.3 million viewers leaving EastEnders with 6.6 million for the funeral of Den Watts. However, this indirectly helped increase the audience of digital channel BBC Three as 1 million (10% share) tuned in to see the second showing.
However, the battle between EastEnders and Emmerdale saw EastEnders come out on top with 200,000 more viewers on 1 December 2005.
More recently, EastEnders was the top rated soap on Christmas Day 2005, attracting 10.6 million viewers while Coronation Street got 9.8 million, with Doctor Who beating it by 30,000. 12.6 million viewers watched as Dennis Rickman was stabbed by a mystery attacker on New Year's Eve 2005, and the aftermath attracted 12.34 million viewers on the 2nd of January, 2006. This made it the most watched soap episode of 2006 so far, although this record has been broken since.
Since then EastEnders has beaten Coronation Street in the ratings several times, although Coronation Street continues to average more on a regular basis. Ratings reached an all-time low in July 2006 with 5.2 million viewers, followed two days later by only 3.9 million.
Between 2001 and 2002, EastEnders was the 10th most searched-for TV show on the Internet. It was the 2nd most popular UK search term in 2003, and the 7th in 2004. EastEnders holds the record for the most watched soap episode in Britain. In 2001, EastEnders went head to head with rival soap Coronation Street for the first time. EastEnders won the battle with 8.4 million viewers (41%) while Coronation Street attracted 7.3 million (36%). Since EastEnders began in 1985, at least one of its episodes have rated higher than any other British soap opera throughout each decade. This includes the 1980s, 1990s and so far the 2000s.
Based on market research by BBC commissioning in 2003, EastEnders is most watched by 6074 year olds, closely followed by 4559 year olds. An average EastEnders episode attracts a total audience share between 15%-25%
Aside from that, the 10 p.m. repeat showing on BBC Three attracts an average of 500,000 viewers, whilst the Sunday omnibus attracts 3 million.
Ever since EastEnders began on the mainstream BBC One, it has achieved some of the highest audiences in British television history. The launch show attracted 17 million viewers in the 1980s; this was perhaps helped by the amount of press attention it received, something which continues today.
In 1986, just under two years since it had been on air, EastEnders attracted 30.15 million viewers, for the Christmas episode in which Den handed a divorce letter to wife Angie. This was its largest audience ever, the largest amount of viewers for a soap episode, the fourth largest audience for a British television channel ever and the highest television audience for a single channel of the 1980s.
Despite a decade and a half of high ratings, it was most popular in the early 2000s, attracting an average of 15 million for most episodes and peaks of up to 25 million for the climaxes of popular storylines. Sonia's shock birth in 2000 was watched by 19.3 million viewers and in 2001, Mel's marriage to Steve Owen was watched by 22.5 million viewers. EastEnders was perhaps at its least popular in 2004/2005. And though its lowest ever audience share was 23% in July 2006, it is showing consistent signs of recovery, despite still rating lower than Coronation Street. It has been noted by some (such as Diane Parish), that viewing figures can no longer be soley based on the first showing of a show. In todays society, the increase in digital television and technology as a whole has meant television viewing is more about convenience for the viewer, and repeat showings of EastEnders consistently attract relatively successful figures.
For the past 20 years, EastEnders has remained at the centre of BBC One's primetime schedule.
EastEnders is currently aired at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday, and 8 p.m. on Monday and Friday. The omnibus is aired on Sunday, though the exact time differs.
Originally, EastEnders was shown twice weekly at 7 p.m., however it soon moved to 7:30 p.m. as Michael Grade did not want the soap running in direct competition with Emmerdale Farm; the BBC had originally planned to take advantage of the 'summer break' that Emmerdale Farm usually took in order to capitalise on ratings, but ITV added extra episodes and repeats so that Emmerdale Farm was not taken off air over the summer. Realising the futility of the situation, Grade decided to move the show to the later 7:30 p.m. slot, but to avoid tabloid speculation that it was a 'panic move' on the BBC's behalf, they had to "dress up the presentation of that move in such a way as to protect the show" giving "all kinds of reasons" for the move.
Radio Times cover marking the third episode in a week being added
and the Sharongate storyline
EastEnders output then increased to three times a week, on 11 April 1994, after Coronation Street added an extra episode in response to competition from EastEnders. EastEnders then added its fourth episode (shown on Fridays) on 6 August 2001. This caused some controversy as it clashed with Coronation Street, which at the time was moved to 8 p.m. to make way for an hour long episode of rural soap Emmerdale at 7 p.m. The move immediately provoked an angry response from ITV insiders, who argued that the BBC's last-minute move only revealed at 3:30 p.m. on the day broke an unwritten scheduling rule that the two flagship soaps would not be put directly against each other. In this first head-to-head battle, EastEnders claimed victory over its rival.
In 1998, EastEnders Revealed was launched on BBC Choice (now BBC Three). The show takes a look behind the scenes of the EastEnders and investigates particular places, characters or families within EastEnders. EastEnders Revealed is the only BBC Choice programme to last the entire life of the channel and is still running on BBC Three. An episode of EastEnders Revealed that was commissioned for BBC Three attracted 611,000 viewers.
In early 2003, viewers could watch episodes of EastEnders on digital channel BBC Three before they were broadcast on BBC One. This was to coincide with the relaunch of the channel and helped BBC Three break the one million viewers mark for the first time with 1.03 million who watched to see Mark Fowler's departure.
In February 2005, there were reports that the EastEnders schedule was threatened due to production problems. Newspaper reports indicated that the show faced being taken off air for a fortnight after a storyline shortage. However, this was denied by the BBC. In March of the same year, as Peter Fincham became the BBC One controller, rumours were sparked that EastEnders could air in a new time slot.
EastEnders is usually repeated on BBC Three at 10 p.m. and old reruns can often be seen on UKTV Gold (as of September 2006, UKTV Gold are showing episodes originally aired in August 2003. They are showing 5 episodes which means that 5 week's worth of episodes are shown every 4 weeks, which results in a catch-up rate of around 3 months per year.)
As part of the BBC's digital push, EastEnders Xtra was introduced in 2005. The show was presented by Angelica Bell and was available to digital viewers at 8:30 p.m. on Monday nights.It was also shown after the Sunday Omnibus. The series went behind the scenes of the show and spoke to some of the cast members. The current series has now finished, and no announcement has been made regarding a second series.
A new behind-the-scenes programme is scheduled to be broadcast on 1 December 2006. EastEnders Unveiled: A Weddings Special will give viewers an insight into how the show's weddings are produced, and take a look at the past weddings of Walford. It will be narrated by Kara Tointon, who plays Dawn Swann, and include interviews with Barbara Windsor (Peggy Mitchell), James Alexandrou (Martin Fowler) and Ricky Groves (Garry Hobbs). It will air on BBC Three at 8.30 p.m. on 1 December, straight after the wedding of Ian Beale and Jane Collins airs on BBC One.
EastEnders is aired around the world in many English-speaking countries, including New Zealand and Canada. The series aired in the United States until BBC America ceased broadcasts of the serial in 2003, amidst fan protests. It is still shown on BBC Prime in Europe, Africa and Asia, and on BBC Canada in Canada. It airs in Australia on UKTV.
In June 2004, the Dish Satellite Network picked up EastEnders, airing episodes starting at the point where BBC America had ceased broadcasting them, offering the serial as a pay-per-view item. Dish first broadcast two weeks' worth of shows each week to catch up. In approximately February 2005, the programming reached the point of being one month behind the new shows being aired in the UK. At that point, Dish stopped its double-helping schedule, and now maintains the schedule of airing the new programmes consistently one month behind the UK schedule. Episodes from prior years are still shown on various PBS stations in the US.
The American PBS channel, KOCE-TV ran the show one episode per week from 1990 to 1993, and currently shows two episodes weekly on Friday nights. Houston's KUHT runs two episodes every Sunday night at 10 and 10:30. Similarly, WLIW in New York City schedules two episodes on Saturday nights. North Carolina's public television outlet, UNC-TV, runs two episodes per week, and receives generous financial support from the fundraising efforts of the North Carolina EastEnders Fan Club. Except on one occasion where public support dried up, KTEH-TV of San Jose, California, has run the series, between 2 to 4 episodes weekly, since the early 1990s. Most PBS stations are nearly 5 years behind in the storyline, and those showing fewer than four episodes weekly are falling further behind.
The series was screened in Australia by the ABC from 1987 until the early 1990s. Currently the series is seen in Australia only on pay-TV channel UK.TV. In New Zealand, it was shown by TVNZ on TV One, but is now on Prime. In Ireland, it is shown on RTΙ One at the same time as BBC One, which is also widely received in the country.
It is also shown on the British Forces Broadcasting Service's main TV channel, BFBS1, to members of HM Forces stationed around the world.
EastEnders has received both praise and criticism for most of its storylines, which have dealt with difficult themes, such as violence, rape and murder.
Mary Whitehouse argued at the time that EastEnders represented a violation of "family viewing time" and that it undermined the watershed policy. She regarded EastEnders as a fundamental assault on the family and morality itself. She made reference to representation of family life and emphasis on psychological and emotional violence within the show. She was also critical of language such as "bleeding", "bloody hell", "bastard" and "for Christ's sake". However, Whitehouse also praised the programme, describing Michelle Fowler's decision not to have an abortion as a "very positive storyline". She also felt that EastEnders had been cleaned up as a result of her protests, though she later commented that EastEnders had returned to its old ways. Her criticisms were widely reported in the tabloid press as ammunition in its existing rivalry with the BBC. The stars of Coronation Street in particular aligned themselves with Mary Whitehouse, gaining headlines such as "STREETS AHEAD! RIVALS LASH SEEDY EASTENDERS" and "CLEAN UP SOAP! Street Star Bill Lashes 'Steamy' EastEnders".
The long-running storyline of Mark Fowler's HIV was so successful in raising awareness that in 1999, a survey by the National Aids Trust found teenagers got most of their information about HIV from the soap, though one campaigner noted that in some ways the storyline was not reflective of what was happening at the time as the condition was more common among the gay community. Still, Mark struggled with various issues connected to his HIV status, including public fears of contamination, a marriage breakdown connected to his inability to have children and the side effects of combination therapies. However, in 2003, when the makers of the series decided to write Mark out of the series, they sent him away to travel, and several months later word was received that he had died.
The child abuse storyline with Kat Slater and her uncle Harry saw calls to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) go up by 60%. The chief executive of the NSPCC praised the storyline for covering the subject in a direct and sensitive way, coming to the conclusion that people were more likely to report any issues relating to child protection because of it. In 2002, EastEnders also won an award from the Mental Health Media Awards held at BAFTA for this storyline.
EastEnders is often criticised for being too violent, most notably during a domestic violence storyline between Little Mo Morgan and her husband Trevor. As EastEnders is shown pre-watershed, there were worries that some scenes in this storyline were too graphic for its audience. Complaints against a scene in which Little Mo's face was pushed in gravy on Christmas Day were upheld by the Broadcasting Standards Council. However, a helpline after this episode attracted over 2000 calls. Erin Pizzey, who became internationally famous for having started one of the first Women's Refuges, said that EastEnders had done more to raise the issue of violence against women in one story than she had done in twenty-five years.
Originally there was a storyline written that the whole Ferreira family killed their pushy father Dan, but after actor Dalip Tahil could not get a visa for working in the UK the storyline was scrapped and instead Ronny Ferreira got stabbed. This storyline was criticised by many as it seemed rushed and no reason was given for Dan's disappearance.
In 2003, Shaun Williamson, who played Barry Evans, said that the programme had become much grittier over the past ten to fifteen years, and found it "frightening" that parents let their young children watch.
The BBC was accused of anti-religious bias by a House of Lords committee, who cited EastEnders as an example. Dr. Indarjit Singh, editor of the Sikh Messenger and patron of the World Congress of Faiths, said: "EastEnders' Dot Cotton is an example. She quotes endlessly from the Bible and it ridicules religion to some extent."
Susan Tully, who played Michelle Fowler from the show's inception until 1995, has caused controversy with fans after refusing offers to return to the show for important events regarding the Fowler family such as Mark and Pauline's weddings to Lisa Shaw and Joe Macer, respectively, and Michelle's father Arthur and Mark's funerals. It has been announced that the actress has rejected offers to return again for Pauline's funeral, and Scarlett Johnson, who played Vicki Fowler, hasn't been asked to return.
Billy and Honey Mitchell, with their baby daughter Petal
In July 2006, former cast member Tracy-Ann Oberman suggested that the scriptwriters had been "on crack" when they penned the storyline about Den's murder and described her 18 months on the show as being "four years of acting experience".
Wendy Richard, who has played Pauline Fowler for 21 years, has also claimed that she quit the show because of the producers' decision to remarry her character to Joe Macer (played by Ray Brooks), as she felt this was out of character for Pauline.
In August 2006, a scene involving Carly Wicks and Jake Moon initiating sexual intercourse on the floor of Scarlet nightclub, and another scene involving Owen Turner violenly attacking Denise Fox, prompted 129 and 128 complaints, respectively. Carly and Jake's sex scenes were later removed from the Sunday omnibus edition.
The birth of Billy and Honey Mitchell's baby, Petal, diagnosed with Down's syndrome, has attracted a lot of criticism.
The storyline has been criticised by the Royal College of Midwives, who claim the storyline was inaccurate and unrealistic. They claim that Honey should not have been refused an epidural and should not have been told about her daughter's condition without her husband being present. They also claim that the baby appeared rigid when in fact she should have been floppy, and that nobody opened the baby's blanket to check.
The BBC say a great deal of research was undertaken such as talking to families with children who have Down's syndrome, and liaising with a senior midwife as well as the Down Syndrome Association. The BBC say Honey was not refused an epidural but had actually locked herself away in the bathroom. They were also unable to cast a baby with Down's syndrome for the first few episodes, which is why the baby appeared rigid. The Down Syndrome Association say that the way in which Billy and Honey found out about their baby's condition and their subsequent support is not a best practice model, but is still a realistic situation.
Conversely, learning disability charity Mencap have praised the soap, saying it will help to raise awareness.
In popular culture
A charity special crossover between the science fiction television series Doctor Who and EastEnders, Dimensions in Time, was filmed in 1993 for Children In Need and ran in two parts on November 26 and 27, 1993. It has been proven as non-canon by various refences of Doctor Who as fiction in EastEnders, and vice versa.
A special episode of A Question of Sport, A Question of EastEnders, was screened in 2000 to mark the show's fifteenth anniversary.
BBC Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles remixed the Shaggy single "It Wasn't Me", singing about the "Who Shot Phil?" storyline.
EastEnders and its characters were frequently spoofed in the impressionist sketch show Big Impression, starring Alistair McGowan and Ronni Ancona. Big Impression once screened a one-off special, focusing on EastEnders, called Alistair McGowan's BigEnders. The cartoon sketch show 2DTV has also spoofed EastEnders on many occasions.
In the third series of Bo' Selecta!, there was a weekly sketch called 'EastEndings', featuring Ali Osman and Kat Moon.
Derek Martin appeared in episode three in the third series of Little Britain in 2005. The sketch primarily focused around the character Marjorie Dawes telling her Fat Fighters group not to mention the fact that Martin is in EastEnders, then mentioning it herself. She referred to him at all times as "Charlie from EastEnders". She hummed the EastEnders theme tune when Martin got up onto the scales, and persistently asked him what would happen to various characters "in the end". She enquired about Kat and Alfie, Mo, Pauline, Phil, Ian, Sonia and Pat before Martin stood up and left, as Marjorie immitated the drums of end theme tune of EastEnders.
An episode of Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps entitled "War, Hurrgh!" contains references to Peggy and Grant Mitchell, Bianca Jackson and Pat Evans. Other episodes have referred to Angie Watts and Pauline and Martin Fowler
Shaun Williamson frequently plays himself in Ricky Gervais's Extras, where he is referred to at all times as "Barry from EastEnders".
A specially filmed clip of EastEnders features in the 2006 episode of Doctor Who entitled Army of Ghosts. In the scene, Peggy Mitchell confronts the "ghost of Den Watts", ordering it to get out of her pub and that "We don't serve spirits".
When Emmerdale actor Nick Miles (who plays Jimmy King) starred in a play at the Edinburgh Festival called Meeting Joe Strummer, his character was from Walford. Miles said in an interview that his character was originally going to be from the village of Emmerdale, but it was changed to Walford for fun.
A promotional picture of Pauline Fowler and Joe Macer was used on the official Torchwood website, in a fictional magazine article about aliens.
monthly Dot Cotton Club, a gay club night in Cambridge, is named after
the character of Dot Branning, who was previously named Dot Cotton.
Eastenders - Who's Who ultimate guide
LINKS and REFERENCES
A - Z FILMS INDEX
A - Z ACTORS INDEX
New energy drinks for performers
.. Thirst for Life
330ml Earth can - the World in Your Hands
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