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1987 was EastEnders' third year.
After the dramatic break-up of Den and Angie's marriage at the end of the previous year, the problem facing the EastEnders team for 1987 was simple - how to keep the Den and Angie story going despite the couple being separated. The solution was to make the pair professional rivals and the year became dominated by the tale of two pubs; The Queen Vic and the Dagmar.
This year also saw the most ambitious attempt yet to make EastEnders feel contemporary. References to current events such as the Boat Show or Wimbledon are used to make the programme feel up to date, but these are always very general since the programme is recorded five or six weeks before transmission. When the General Election was announced in 1987, it was felt that it would be too big a national event for the programme to ignore. The problem was that the date of the election, 11 June, was only announced early in May. At that time the programmes for early June had already been made.
A cunning plan was developed by Julia Smith and Tony Holland. First, they cut five minutes of material from each of the four episodes in the two weeks leading up to the election. These were then replaced with specially recorded election material which was shot by Julia Smith over two extra lot recording days. Some of this material was entirely new, such as representatives of each of the three major parties calling on an unimpressed Lou Beale, while other scenes were reworkings of the original scenes with added election material.
Great care had to be taken to be even-handed in the treatment of each of the parties. Finally, a quick scene was recorded on the day after the election to reflect the result. The scene was then edited into the programme over the weekend and appeared on the following Tuesday. It was complicated, difficult, last-minute operation but it did work. Nevertheless, at the next election in 1992, it was not repeated to the same extent.
Comings 'n' Goings
In 1987, more and more characters came and went, including four originals. The first of the originals to go was Tony Carpenter. His dream of a possible permanent reconciliation with Hannah dashed, Tony had briefly returned to his old trade as a silversmith, only to find his honesty compromised when he bought some dodgy silver from Nick Cotton. Finally Tony decided to return his roots and bought himself a ticket to Trinidad.
Later in the year Kelvin also moved on, leaving Walford to begin a university course in East Anglia. As is often the case, Kelvin's final appearances were lot scenes. This is because the lot recording for each week's episodes happens typically two weeks before the studio recording of the same episodes. This enables an actor to appear in two weeks' worth of episodes 'lot only' at the end of their contract. So that is the real explanation for Kelvin shunning his leaving party - when the party was recorded Paul Medford was already out of contract! Paul, who had always entertained an ambition to be a singer/dancer, later enjoyed a long stage run in the hit show Five Guys Named Moe.
Debbie Wilkins finally left the Square in May, finding new happiness in the arms of a policeman, but this was Terry Rich rather than Roy Quick as might have been expected. Naima also left to remarry in November. A slightly less happy exit was the death of Lofty's Auntie Irene, who finally succumbed to cancer which had been killing her slowly for years.
Of course, there were also new faces to get to know. There were a number of new children - Mehmet's three kids, Emine, Rayif and Murat, appeared in February complete with pet snake Crush who promptly escaped, causing panic. Emine later got hurt by a thrown firework in the week of 5 November. Willmott-Brown brought his kids Luke and Sophie to visit Walford in March, and Carmel's life was complicated by the arrival of her brother Darren Roberts, who came complete with his children Junior and baby Aisha. Darren joined the programme at the same time as Rod the Roadie and Barry Clark's brother Graham, in a sudden influx of young men to the Square. Gary Webster, who played Graham, is now better known for his portrayal as Arthur Daley's nephew in Minder.
At the same time as these new young men appeared there was a similar batch of new young women. Tina was the young girlfriend of Ian, and she moved in with him in the basement of number 3 until her parents terminated both the arrangement and the relationship. The new woman in Den's life was Magda Czajkowski, a caterer who inspired Ian and later became involved with Wicksy. Donna was the child Kathy had given birth to after her traumatic rape at the age of fourteen. Donna's appearance had been primed by the visit of her godmother earlier in the year. The godmother, June Watkins, had told Kathy that her daughter wanted to make contact but Kathy refused to see her. Donna's entrance was planned very carefully so as not to give away her secret too quickly. We established her as a compulsive liar, telling different people different versions of her past. Even so, some quick viewers still guessed the truth.
Other visitors were less complicated. The new area manager at Luxford and Copley, Mr Sparrow, proved to be as dishonest as Den and refused to take 'No' for an answer when Den owed money. Alan McIntyre, Sue and Ali's new neighbour and landlord, was an unpleasant, anti-social man who didn't care what people thought of him while Duncan Boyd, the curate at the local church, had a simple honesty that appealed to the confused Sharon. Other new faces were Mary's mother, Edie Smith, Dagmar regular Gerry Fairweather, and Derek Taylor, who took a shine to Pauline during the Ladies Darts Team trip to Greenwich.
Frank Butcher - perhaps the most important new character of the year - only made a brief appearance in 1987. He was Pat's old flame, her first lover. Played by Mike Reid, the casting of a comedian in a dramatic role was controversial at the time, but over the years the wisdom of that decision had been proved because Frank became one of the show's most popular characters.
EastEnders underwent from a prominent deal of development in 1987 in the viewing totals, due to the high resolution of the Christmas Day episode in 1986 which achieved over 30 million viewers, the stimulating work certainly didn't crawl away instantly. Although the numbers steadily dropped by each month, it most surely picked its self back up towards the end of the year.
The highest viewed episode of the year was Episode 197 (1 January 1987), just two episodes after the great successes of the Christmas day episode. The lowest seen episode of the year was Episode 248 (30 June 1987) with only 13.65 million viewers; this was a great deal of a drop for EastEnders when the average standard viewing figure was 20 million or more.
Doof Doof Count
- Please note: We have calculated the Doof Doofs based on which character/s appeared at the end of an episode in frame.
- Pauline knows that Arthur, who is so distracted that he doesn't feel anything when hot tea is spilt on his lap, must go to a hospital.
- Naima gives her cousin Rezaul, who is sent by her family to 'sort out' the shop, a chilly reception.
- The local attacker stalks Sharon but Den rescues her.
- Mary, still picking up men in The Vic, is beaten up but tells Sue that 'professional' girls did it to warn her off. Later she tells health visitor Carmel that a client struck her.
- Dot reluctantly sees Dr Legg's new partner, Dr Singh, who prescribes hormone treatment for her menopausal problems.
- Kelvin celebrates turning eighteen with a noisy party and a stripogram.
- Mehmet swindles Kathy and Michelle out of the money for a large batch of jumpers.
- Den, Pete and Tony give Mehmet a beating.
- Pat, Sue and Carmel warn Mary that Annie might be taken into care. She leaves the child alone again, but luckily Ethel and Dot step in.
- Willmott-Brown leaves the brewery to run The Dagmar.
- With Angie and Sharon away, Jan offers to help at The Vic and proves to be a disaster. She tries to fire Pat and does sack, Pauline.
- Barry and Nick Cotton smash into Ali's car; Colin makes Barry report it to the police.
- The 'Ripper' viciously attacks Pat, leaving her unconscious in the gardens. Wicksy and Pete are suspects, and Pete angrily hits a police officer.
- Another woman is attacked, and again Pete has no alibi.
- Colin is frantic when he discovers his Filofax is missing; Barry has hidden it as a joke.
- Kathy starts training for the Samaritans.
- Willmott-Brown says 'yes' when Angie asks for the job of manageress at The Dagmar.
- Sharon is becoming keen on Wicksy.
- Ian is keen on Tina.
- Arthur, home for a break from the hospital, angers Pauline by confiding in Mary.
- Sue finds a lump in her breast and Debs insists she goes to the clinic. Tests there show it's harmless.
- When Dot sees Barry and Colin's single set of sheets in the laundrette, she concludes, to her horror, that they are gay!
- Den and Jan argue. She leaves, saying she'll marry Dario.
- Kathy refuses a request to meet her illegitimate daughter.
- When the 'Ripper' attacks Debs in the laundrette, Pete catches him.
- Det. Sgt Terry Rich takes statements and later asks Debs out. Soon they're engaged.
- Sharon and Wicksy go away for a 'dirty' weekend which turns out to be very clean, although Angie and Den don't believe it; they're furious.
- Angie wants half of everything that Den owns. This turns out to be debts, some of which are owed to Sparrow, the new man at the brewery.
- Mary again leaves Annie, who throws a cot blanket over the electric fire and starts a blaze.
- Mags Czajkowski gives Den catering advice and soon they're having an affair.
- At his trial, Arthur is sentenced to twenty-eight days in prison for theft.
- Pauline and Michelle start to pay people the money they lost through the Christmas Club.
- Pete is fined two hundred pounds for hitting the policeman.
- Mary's mother arrives and takes Annie back to Stockport.
- Dot and Ethel, who have been living together, are to swap council houses with Tom. Then Ethel asks Pat to move out from Dr Legg's so she can have her old room back.
- Michelle refuses to accept Den's money for Vicki's first birthday present. Pauline eavesdrops, and it confirms her theory that Den is Vicki's father.
- Tony tells Kelvin he's returning to Trinidad.
- Angie is shamed into admitting her heavy drinking after Sharon videotapes her at The Dagmar.
- A video jukebox that Den hires attracts drugs pushers.
- Police capture the son of a member of The Firm, the local mafia ring, for drug dealing, but The Firm force Den to frame an innocent boy instead.
- Barry worries that his summer flu is the first symptom of Aids. He tells his brother Graham that he's gay, but it comes as no surprise.
- Arthur, now out of prison, begins work at The Dagmar but his first wage packet is stolen; Sue has a whip-round for him.
- Tom and Arthur, each tending pub window-boxes for London in Bloom, are again in competition. The Dagmar wins second prize.
- Ian and Tina set up home together.
- Den throws out an umbrella, which is one that Tom gave Dot. It costs him forty-three pounds in taxi fares for Ethel to replace it.
- Naima's family sends another cousin, Farrukh, and she expects to dislike him but doesn't.
- Angie and Sharon move into the flat above The Dagmar.
- Wicksy, tired of Sharon, fancies Mags.
- Brad tells Den he must travel to Morocco as a courier for The Firm.
- The Vic's and The Dagmar's football teams prepare for an 'unfriendly'.
- Sue and Ali learn they may be evicted by Saeed's cousin, Ashraf Karim because the flat is to be sold. Ali gambles the café's takings to raise the deposit but loses the money.
- Carmel moves into one of the [[Carpenter family tree|Carpenters]' flats, helped by her brother Darren and hampered by his son Junior.
- Den sacks Wicksy for chatting up Mags. Luckily there's a job for him at The Dagmar.
- Mags drops Den and moves into Kelvin's flat. A level results mean he'll soon be off to university.
- Lofty talks to Michelle about their having a baby.
- Michelle confides to Den that she's already bored with Lofty and offers to go away with him.
- Mary's new friend Rod offers to clean her flat, so it will be suitable for Annie's return.
- The Vic football team win only after Den insists they play dirty; Colin and Mags are shocked. On the other hand, The Vic Ladies' Darts Team wins their match in a fair fight.
- Donna Ludlow, the secret daughter of Kathy, arrives.
- On the Darts Team's outing to Greenwich, Pauline meets Derek Taylor, who takes a shine to her and later turns up in The Vic.
- Pat meets her old flame, Frank Butcher, who proposes marriage.
- Den gives Donna a job at The Vic, but when Pete questions her about her past, he's puzzled.
- Dr Legg hires Darren to paint the surgery. Darren sub-contracts Rod but Carmel ends up paying a proper painter to do it.
- Tina's parents find out she's living with Ian and take her home.
- Dot, who has recently been stung on the bottom by a bee, is a success at organising Ozcabs.
- Lofty excitedly thinks Michelle is pregnant; she's relieved to find she isn't.
- Sharon gets Den and Angie together, and they end up in bed.
- Mary is upset when her parents arrive without Annie.
- Willmott-Brown is grumpily cleaning off the anti-yuppy graffiti that has been daubed on his house and The Dagmar.
- On her eighteenth birthday, Sharon goes to church and meets a nice young man, Duncan, the curate.
- Barry takes Donna to a disco.
- Arthur borrows money to take Pauline on the town and spend the night in a hotel.
- Sue tells Ali she's pregnant, and there's no mistake this time.
- Wicksy is living with Mags, but she's having no luck in buying a place of her own.
- Ethel foresees a dark man in Dot's life. Sadly there are two - Charlie and Nick, who meet for the first time.
- Angie, tiring of The Dagmar, returns to The Vic where womanless Den invites her away for the weekend. Cheered by this, she plots to use Darren to make Den jealous. Darren won't play ball, and Den finds out.
- Colin, having trouble with his design work, also has problems with jury service. Den, on Brad's orders, tries to blackmail him to acquit the defendant in a gangland trial; he refuses.
- Ethel has another fall, and Dr Legg talks to her about sheltered housing.
- Charlie sells Ian cheap salmon for The Vic's Bonfire Night snacks; food poisoning strikes all around.
- Mary's father brings Annie back.
- Darren is stashing porn videos in Carmel's flat.
- Colin's flat is burgled but the police are more interested in his gay relationship than the crime.
- Rezaul catches Charlie shop-lifting. Both he and Dot appear in court on the same day. After it's reported in the Gazette, Dot's agony is made worse because she's sacked from the laundrette for it.
- Sharon asks Duncan if they can get engaged.
- The Dagmar yuppies finally wear Angie down. She storms out and goes back to The Vic. Den and she agree to become business partners there.
- Colin, realising it's over with Barry, sends him home to confront his father.
- On Christmas Eve, Mary's father kidnaps Annie and crashes his car while drunk. Thankfully the child is unharmed.
- Michelle tells Pauline she's pregnant.
|1980's ▬ 1990's ▬ 2000's ▬ 2010's ▬ 2020's|
|1985 • 1986 • 1987 • 1988 • 1989 →|