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Eastenders

The meaning of «eastenders»

EastEnders is a British soap opera created by Julia Smith and Tony Holland which has been broadcast on BBC One since 1985. Set in Albert Square in the East End of London in the fictional borough of Walford, the programme follows the stories of local residents and their families as they go about their daily lives. Initially there were two 30-minute episodes per week, later increasing to three, but since 2001, episodes have been broadcast on every weekday except Wednesday (outside of special occasions). The three-month suspension of production in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, led to broadcast of the show being reduced to two 30-minute episodes per week.

Within eight months of the show's launch, it reached the number one spot in BARB's TV ratings and has consistently remained among the top rated series in Britain. In 2013, the average audience share for an episode was around 30 per cent.[2] Today, EastEnders remains a significant programme in terms of the BBC's success and audience share, and also in the history of British television drama, tackling many dilemmas that are considered to be controversial and taboo issues in British culture and social life previously unseen on UK mainstream television.[3]

As of September 2019[update], EastEnders has won ten BAFTA Awards and the Inside Soap Award for Best Soap for 14 years running (from 1997 to 2012),[4] as well as twelve National Television Awards for Most Popular Serial Drama[5] and 11 awards for Best British Soap at the British Soap Awards. It has also won 13 TV Quick and TV Choice Awards for Best Soap, six TRIC Awards for Soap of The Year, four Royal Television Society Awards for Best Continuing Drama and has been inducted into the Rose d'Or Hall of Fame.[6]

In March 1983, under two years before EastEnders' first episode was broadcast, the show was a vague idea in the mind of a handful of BBC executives, who decided that what BBC1 needed was a popular bi-weekly drama series that would attract the kind of mass audiences that ITV was getting with Coronation Street.[7] The first people to whom David Reid, then head of series and serials, turned were Julia Smith and Tony Holland, a well established producer/script editor team who had first worked together on Z-Cars.[7] The outline that Reid presented was vague: two episodes a week, 52 weeks a year.[8] After the concept was put to them on 14 March 1983, Smith and Holland then went about putting their ideas down on paper; they decided it would be set in the East End of London.[7] Granada Television gave Smith unrestricted access to the Coronation Street production for a month so that she could get a sense how a continuing drama was produced.[9]

There was anxiety at first that the viewing public would not accept a new soap set in the south of England, though research commissioned by lead figures in the BBC revealed that southerners would accept a northern soap, northerners would accept a southern soap and those from the Midlands, as Julia Smith herself pointed out, did not mind where it was set as long as it was somewhere else.[8] This was the beginning of a close and continuing association between EastEnders and audience research, which, though commonplace today, was something of a revolution in practice.[8]

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