Eastenders TV Show Facts

One of the UK’s favourite TV soaps, Eastenders, is set in a fictional square in the East End of London. The program was first broadcast in 1985 and has remained one of the top three prime-time soaps ever since.

Over the years, all of the country has enjoyed watching the lives of fictional Eastenders as they go through all the trials, tribulations and crises that you expect from a soap. Is it true to life? Who can really say?

Eastenders – The East End of London as a Soap

It certainly sticks to some preconceptions we have about life in the East End giving us a local community and lots of villains!

The Eastender community

Eastenders is set in a fictional square, Albert Square, in a fictional part of London’s East End, Walford. The square is a self-sufficient little community with a small market, shops and the hub-of-all-social-life, The Queen Vic pub. The residents of Albert Square, unsurprisingly, all live in houses and flats in and around the square itself.

The whole premise of Eastenders is community based. Like much of the East End, traditionally at least, Albert Square is populated by close-knit families and groups of people who become part of the local scenery. The primary focus in its early years was on the Fowler and the Watts families and their friends and neighbours. The Fowlers were ruled by a traditional East End matriarch, Lou Beale. Her son, Pete, ran the square’s fruit and vegetable stall. Her daughter, Pauline, did a good job of being Lou-in-waiting.

The Watts family were a little different – they ran the Queen Vic pub. Den Watts, the landlord, was Pete’s best friend, and he ducked and dived through life and his marriage to Angie. Their ups and downs before they split up traumatised their daughter Sharon and gave us some of the best Christmas Day TV viewing for years. The episode where Angie and Den finally imploded remains the highest-rated soap episode in the history of UK TV to this day with a whopping 30.15 million viewers.

Today, the Eastenders community is probably more true to life than in the past. It is more racially mixed and has more characters coming in and out. You can still spot a Beale or two and Sharon Watts is back so the connections with the past are still there.  We now have new family units to watch, including the Mitchells and the Brannings

Eastenders’ Villains

Like any TV soap, Eastenders is not really about everyday life. We aren’t really interested in spending days watching people do their laundry and have a pint in the pub. We want action and Eastenders has always provided that. The show has had its fair share of deaths, divorces, affairs, abuse and angst. It is much-loved by many viewers because of its villains.

Apart from Den Watts, one of the original bad boys in the soap was Nick Cotton. He was the black sheep son of Dot, who was an old friend of Lou Beale. Nick spent years coming in and out of the soap, bullying the locals and making his poor mother’s life difficult. It eventually turned out that he had murdered Reg Cox – the death of this character was the centre-piece of the soap’s first episode.

Over the years, the show has also given us Kray-like villains like the Mitchell brothers, Phil and Grant. Their mother, Peggy, even said in an interview that she had modelled the character partly on the mother of the Kray twins, Violet. We’ve even had Martin Kemp from Spandau Ballet play the mean and moody Steve Owen. In an interesting twist, one of the most recent villains in the soap, Derek Branning, was played by the actor Jamie Foreman. He is the son of the infamous London gangster, Freddie Foreman, who was an associate of the Kray twins in the 1960s.

Odd facts about Eastenders

Despite the fact that we all think that Albert Square looks like an East End London location, it is actually a set based in the BBC’s Elstree studios in Hertfordshire. Albert Square has some old buildings in it, but the set was created in the 1980s – set builders and designers had to use pickaxes to chip away at set buildings to make them look more authentic.

Eastenders is screened to countries all over the world and has fans everywhere, although the East End accents and dialogue have caused problems in some places. It is said that BBC America pulled it from its schedules in the USA in 2003 because Americans couldn’t understand what anyone was saying!

The comings and goings of so many characters can be a headache for the wardrobe department, which gets through around 150 costume changes a week. They buy a lot of Dot Cotton’s wardrobe in charity shops. She wears the same dress every Christmas – this is now the oldest piece in the Eastenders wardrobe department.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Recent Comments

  • A.J.Spencer on London East End Street NamesI am looking for any information on Rosher Row ? It was still there in the 1960's as I remember taking my G/Friend of the time to meet my aunt Ett
  • JM Tubbs on Manchester Hotel | Aldersgate Street | WW2 PhotosMy great great grandfather Henry Thomas Tubbs and his business partner Joseph Lewis built this hotel and owned it for a time after it was opened. The initial cost in 1879 was around £70,000. It originally had 240 bedrooms but was expanded. There was a second main entrance on Long
  • JM Tubbs on Manchester Hotel | Aldersgate Street | WW2 PhotosYou could check the 1911 census. Either a subscription or a local studies library should have one you can use.
  • Charles Sage on History of Canning Town East LondonI was born in 1939 and lived in Beckton rd , I can rememember after the war going to the Queens theatre in poplar to see the variety shows , I think the compare was called Buttons,does anyone else remember the theatre.
  • Margaret Knight ( nee Key ) on The History of Beckton Gas WorksMy father was a stoker at the gas works and we lived in one of the company houses , 46 WinsorTerrace until I married in 1957,
  • Charles Sage on History of Canning Town East LondonPatlrick , We lived very close to Hermit rd after moving from Beckton rd in fact we drove along there this very day , we went to the cemetery to take flowers to put on my parents grave. To put it bluntly Canning Town is like a foreign country now
  • Naz on Alf Garnett East London’s Famous Resident.Barnet is not rhyming slang for Alf Garnett, it is rhyming slang for Barnett Fair, that piece of slang was in use well before Johnny Speight wrote TDUDP
  • Patrick Blake-Kerry on History of Canning Town East LondonMakes me laugh, the talk of hop picking as I ended up living in Hampshire as my mum and brother were bombed out and evacuated in 1940. They ended up in Bentley because it was the only place the driver knew outside London. Conversly having stayed and live in Bentley
  • Charlie sage on History of Canning Town East LondonHi Alfie Brown ! I remember the hop picking very well they were great times down China farm , the old huts lightig the fires going so mum could get dinner going , that long walk to the shop opposite the green hill, Bert doing the toilets , scrumping in
  • Carol Featherstone on Second World War Bombing Raid South Hallsville SchoolMy nan and grandad Pat and Emily Murphy were killed in the school leaving my mum an orphan at six she was brought up by her nan Lou McKay
  • Tim Conlan on History of Poplar East LondonGrindley and Co of 21 to 23 Broomfield Street, Poplar, London, E 1868 Company established. 1914 Tar and rosin distillers. Specialities: insulating and transformer oils, black varnishes, soluble drier preparations, motor and other greases.
  • Jane on History of Canning Town East LondonThank you, Ray, that's such a helpful reply - much appreciated.,
  • A.J.Spencer on London’s East End and The BlitzMy grand parents lived in Canning Town during the Blitz and I cannot find any trace of them on any records. I am looking especially pertaining to John William Spencer who lived at 66 Bidder St, Canning town in 1913
  • Ken Shelton on History of Canning Town East LondonHi there, I went to both of the Stratford Grammar Schools - the first one next to West Ham Park was just around the corner from where we lived, on Shirley Rd. I remember there was a tuck shop on the corner. Lots of memories from there - thanks for
  • Elaine Ford on History of Poplar East LondonDoes anyone know of a company called 'Grindleys' ? or similar, was based in Poplar in the 1940's (I believe) and was eventually pulled down. I'm writing a tribute for a gentleman who worked there, he was 99 years old. The family are not sure of the spelling of the

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 175 other subscribers.