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This article is about the series. For information about the wiki, see EastEnders Wiki.
2009 title sequence (4)

EastEnders title caption

EastEnders is a long-running British soap opera, first broadcasted on 19th February 1985.

It was created by Julia Smith and Tony Holland, pitched as an on-going serial about the lives of the residents in the East-end of London, specifically the residents of Albert Square in the fictional borough of Walford. Since 1985 it has been produced by the BBC, and for all that time it has been one of the UK's most famous television shows.

EastEnders is noted for tackling many dilemmas that are considered to be controversial and taboo issues in British culture and social life previously unseen on United Kingdom mainstream television. As of May 2016, EastEnders has won nine BAFTA Awards as well as twelve National Television Awards for Most Popular Serial Drama and 11 awards for Best Soap at the British Soap Awards. [1]

Background

EastEnders Cast (1985)

Cast photograph of 1985

In the world before Walford, back in the early Eighties, BBC drama was looking tired and moribund. The BBC was also losing badly in the ratings and needed a popular soap to rival Coronation Street. Producer Julia Smith and script editor Tony Holland were approached and ordered to create a popular bi-weekly drama serial that would gain the same kind of mass audience ITV were getting with Coronation Street. After many long months of creating the most famous set in British television, Albert Square and creating twenty-three, later changing to twenty-four, characters them among being the iconic characters of Ian Beale, Pauline Fowler, Den Watts and Ethel Skinner.

Despite worries of the public not expecting a soap set in the South of England, EastEnders became very popular rapidly and became one of the most famous programmes on UK television within months. Storylines such as Michelle Fowler's teenage pregnancy and Den and Angie Watts' slippery marriage had viewers gripped and the ratings grew as high as 23 million. On Christmas Day 1986, EastEnders broke soap records with reaching an outstanding 30 million viewers when the public witnessed Dirty Den giving Angie them daunting divorce papers and ever since that day EastEnders has continued to stay at the top of the ratings.

Setting

Main article: Albert Square
Albert Square Aerial Shot

Aerial view of Albert Square

The fictional setting of the soap is Albert Square in Walford, a borough in East London. Within the narrative of the programme, the Square was built in the 19th-century and consists of fifteen Victorian houses in which some were converted into flats, with the gardens in the middle and The Queen Victoria public house and Maximum Motors the car lot fixated into the Square.

Across the Square houses a number of different buildings and businesses including a market, food store, café and laundrette. Since 1985 businesses such as Smith and Jameson Haulage and Abercorn Bed and Breakfast have expired but once stood on the Square.

As the shows various outdoor sets have expanded, the area surrounding Albert Square, particularly Turpin Road and George Street, have been gradually integrated into the programme, with more flats and business properties including Walford Tube Station, nightclub E20, restaurant Walford East and the archers Mitchell's Autos. The houses and businesses provide accommodation and work for the show's characters, with the action mostly centring on the Albert Square area, other areas of Walford have occasionally been seen.

Characters

Main article: List of EastEnders characters

When created by Julia Smith and Tony Holland in 1985, the Albert Square community was noted for being lively, tough, proud and a tight-knit community. As a result, particularly in its early years, EastEnders featured many formidable families, who lorded over their lives or even the whole community. Many of the show's most popular characters have been from tight-knit families, including the Beale family, Fowler family, Branning Family and Slater family.

As a working-class community, most EastEnders characters are not highly educated or particularly wealthy, with exceptions such as wine bar owner James Willmott-Brown usually playing the role of the Square's outsider, although several characters, such as Ian Beale have considered themselves to be at least better than their "common" neighbours.

The popularity and longevity of many early characters have resulted in many of them becoming archetypes of British soap operas. Angie Watts, the original "landlady" has had spiritual successors in Peggy Mitchell and Linda Carter, while Pauline Fowler has occupied the role of acid-tongued battle-axe originally held by her mother Lou Beale.

Other archetypes include the bad boy, with examples including Den Watts and Phil Mitchell and the joyful old lady, illustrated by Ethel Skinner and Nana Moon. For much of its run, EastEnders has had a strong emphasis on all ages of characters and still has a greater concentration of all ages cast members than other British soaps.

Broadcasting history

The series' first episode was broadcast at 7:00 pm on a Tuesday with the following episode on Thursday which was a regular routine. Until the series changed their time slot to 7:30 pm in September 1985 which became a regular time-slot for nine years. In 1991, the series changed to stereo. Since then the show's output has increased from two episodes a week to four, with new weekly episodes introduced in 1994 and 2001.

In the UK EastEnders has occupied an evening slot on BBC since it started and has been the flagship show of the channel since the late 1980s. It is currently (as of August 2001) broadcast five times a week at 7:30 pm on Tuesday and Thursday and 8 pm on Monday and Friday. New episodes EastEnders are also shown in New Zealand and Canada.

EastEnders Cast (2015)

2015 Cast Photo

See also

External links

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