The British soap opera The EastEnders has been on air since 1985 and continues to pull in audiences with storylines about the everyday lives of the people who live around Albert Square in the fictional London borough of Walford. Over the years, they’ve tackled many controversial and taboo issues, as well as family and relationship conflicts that are typical of soaps. The popular show has even pushed long-running Coronation Street off the top of the ratings from time to time. Here are some things you might not know about the The EastEnders.
1. Walford is a mix of Walthamstow and Stratford
The name Walford comes from a mixture of Walthamstow and Stratford, which are the areas of London that the show creators Julia Smith and Tony Holland are from.
2. Emma Bunton was an EastEnder
Before she was a Spice Girl, Emma Bunton played a troubled teen on the show in 1992. She also auditioned for the role of Bianca Jackson.
3. The death count is ridiculous
It’s a fact of life that people expire for all sorts of reasons, and the characters from EastEnders are no exception. Since the show began there have been at least 111 deaths written into the show. This has included assisted suicide (Ethel Skinner), alcohol poisoning (Billie Jackson), a cliff push (Barry Evans), AIDS complications (Mark Fowler), a car crushing (Fatboy), heroine overdose (Nick Cotton), gas explosion (May Wright), rake impaling (Trina Johnson), speedboat accident (Joel and Stephanie Reynolds) and assorted bludgeonings (too many to mention). Even the dogs in the cast have bit the dust.
4. The show holds a UK television soap record
The Christmas Day 1986 episode of the show still holds the record for the most watched soap in UK television history, with 30.15 million people tuning in to view it. The soap’s Christmas episodes are legendary, as anything can happen during the festive season, including deaths, breakups and arrests.
5. The buildings had to be pickaxed to make them look older
The actual buildings used in the exterior of the set were built in 1984, so they took pickaxes to them to chip away at the facade so they wouldn’t look so pristine.
6. They film 25 to 30 scenes each day
To put out as many episodes as they do, they have to get through a lot of daily footage. Sometimes that means shooting as many as 25 to 30 scenes each day.
7. Dot Cotton’s wardrobe comes from second hand shops
Most of Dot Cotton’s wardrobe clothing comes from second hand shops, and the dress that she wears every Christmas is actually the oldest item in the entire show’s wardrobe department.
8. Pat Butcher had 125 earrings
There were 125 different pairs of earrings in rotations for Pam St. Clements who played Pat Butcher on the show. In fact, some of them even came from fans who sent them into production. They became part of her signature look, and when her character died of cancer after appearing on the show for 26 years, she titled her memoir “The End of an Earring.”
9. Ian Beale has been there since the start
The character Ian Beale (played by Adam Woodyatt) is the only original cast member who is still on the show. He started in 1985 and is still going strong today.
10. They considered a lot of other titles
Before they settled on The EastEnders they considered E8, Square Dance, Round the Square, Round the Houses, and London Pride. The EastEnders came about when the creators discussed how they had been calling casting agencies to ask if the had “any real East Enders.”
11. Many of the actors auditioned for different roles
Michelle Collins who played Cindy Beale had initially auditioned for the role of punk single mother Mary Smith. Derek Martin who played Charlie Slater initially auditioned for the role of Den Watts and Frank Butcher.
12. It would take a while to binge-watch all of the episodes
If you attempted to sit down and watch all of the episodes of the series from beginning to end, it would take about 4 months of constant viewing to get through the 30-plus years of programming.
13. The beer at The Vic is real
In The Vic most of the alcohol is substituted with non alcoholic options, such as using water instead of vodka, but the beer that comes out of the taps is actually real beer.
14. It was the first British drama to have a two minute silence
On Armistice Day in 2005, the show became the first British drama to have a full two minutes of silence in the episode. The episode ended up being an award winning one.
15. They have to fake the weather
Since they shoot the show six to 12 weeks in advance they always have to fake the weather. This might mean bringing in fake leaves for the trees or planting fake daffodils to make it like more like spring when it isn’t.
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