Little Bits of History

Soaps

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 19, 2012

Cast pictures of EastEnders from 1985

February 19, 1985: The first episode of the British soap opera, EastEnders, is broadcast. The BBC ran the new show one day after a major identity change for the channel. BBC needed to prove they were able to produce popular programming. ITV had been having spectacular results with Coronation Street since 1960. Critics were originally unimpressed, but soon EastEnders became a hit and outpaced Corrie in the ratings.

In February 1983, a few executives at BBC One began to pursue a twice-a-week drama idea. They contacted Julia Smith and Tony Holland. It was decided to locate the new show in the East End of London in southern England. Coronation Street was set in North West England. While developing the show, they created the imaginary place – Albert Square – where EastEnders would live. According to the show, Albert Square is in the Borough of Walford. Many have tried to find the real world location for the fictional residents.

The story line follows the lives of people who live in a small area of London. Each character has his or her place in the community. EastEnders began with 23 characters created by Smith and Holland. The show, much like the East End, has a decidedly matriarchical leaning. The gender mix remains half and half by including various macho personalities. The cast is culturally diverse with black, Asian, Turkish, and Polish characters included. The age of the residents also covers a wide spectrum. There is a high turnover rate for the cast in order to accommodate new story lines.

Originally two 30-minute shows were broadcast each week. In 1994 a third episode was added to the weekly fare and a fourth was added in 2001. Appreciation Indexes went from 55-60 at startup to 85-95 in later years. They are grabbing 35-40% of market share with most viewers 45 years old and up. The show has won many award in many “Best” categories and been nominated for even more. There have been more than 4,360 episodes presented for the eager fans.

Ethel Skinner: [referring to punk Mary] You know what the bible said, Help thy neighbour.
Dorothy ‘Dot’ Cotton: But it didn’t say, Help thy common slut that won’t help thyself.

Andy: We are going to be clinically obese.
Sam Mitchell: Yeah, but you’ll still love me when I’m fat, won’t you?
Andy: No.

Belinda: I hope they take plastic
Kat: Why? You gonna getcha boobs out?

Alfie Moon: You know what they say, darlin’, the course of true love never runs smooth.
Kat: I don’t want smooth, just something that’s less like roller-blading down the Himalayas with a rocket up me backside. – all from EastEnders

Also on this day:

Cracker Jack – In 1912, Cracker Jack began to include prizes in every box.
Bollingen Prize – In 1949, the prizes were first given out.
Rockin’ the World – In 1600,  the most powerful volcano in South America erupted.

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