Aerial view of Albert Square as it was during the 1980s
|Notable locations||The Queen Victoria|
|Notable characters||EastEnders characters|
Albert Square is the fictional location of the BBC soap opera EastEnders in the equally fictional London Borough of Walford in the East End. The square's design was based on Fassett Square in Hackney, and was given the name Albert Square after Prince Albert. The public house, The Queen Victoria, was also given its name due to this. One of the key characteristics of the pub is the window twitching by any of the occupants throughout the years. They are often known to look out of the windows, giving a view of the whole Square. This is especially common in dramatic storylines.
Central to the Square is the garden. The garden is home to Arthur Fowler's bench, which was placed there in memory of him. The bench is also known as the Bench of Tears, as it is often the place where characters will go and cry.
The square is the centre of all of the everyday drama in all of Walford's residents' lives; most of the characters in EastEnders live on the square. Although a major place on the show, there are other places which are used in the show, like the market.
The Queen Victoria public house, known to residents as the Queen Vic or simply 'The Vic', stands south of the square at number 45 Albert Square, where it joins with Bridge Street. East of the pub is a building with 2 flats and west of these in the southwest corner leads off to a walkway through to Turpin Way, on which the Walford Community Centre and Playground are found. To the west of the Queen Vic, across the junction with Bridge Street, is the Beale house, 45 Albert Square. Next to that is 43 Albert Square. In the southwest corner of the square is number 41. Between numbers 41 and 43 is Daisy Lane, a pathway connecting Albert Square to Victoria Square. On the west edge of The Square there are two houses 18 and 20 Albert Square, which have been knocked through as a single property and then later separated again. It was previously Walford's B&B, 'Kim's Palace'. North of the old B&B is the rear of 55 Victoria Road. A row of five terraced houses line the north edge of Albert Square. The westernmost house is number 31. The property next door is split into two flats. Number 25 is the home of Dot Cotton (June Brown). The easternmost property in the terrace is number 23, which was destroyed in September 2014 by a fire. On the northeast edge of Albert Square is a car lot, south of which is another terrace of three elevated properties. The northernmost house is number 5. A road leaves to the north at the northeast edge of the square, passing by the car lot. The middle house is 3 Albert Square. Most southerly of this terrace is number 1, originally flats with the doctor's surgery on the ground floor, which later becomes a single house.
Albert Square within the EastEnders set
The exterior set for the fictional Albert Square is located in the permanent backlot of the BBC Elstree Centre, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, at , and is outdoors and open to the weather. The main buildings on the square consisted originally of hollow shells, constructed from marine plywood facades mounted onto steel frames. The lower walls, pavements, etc., are constructed of real brick and tarmac. The walls were intentionally built crooked to give them an aged appearance. The drains around the set are real so rain water can naturally flow from the streets. The square was built in two phases with only three sides being built, plus Bridge Street, to begin with in 1984, in time to be used for the show's first episode, which was aired on 19 February 1985. The fourth side of the square plus further expansion to the exterior set was completed in 1987 with a further, final, expansion in 1993. Most of the buildings on Albert Square have no interior filming space, with a few exceptions, and most do not have rears or gardens. Most areas by the front (and sometimes back) doors are decorated and dressed to match the interior set to allow shots of doors being opened.
The set was expanded further to include George Street, more shops and the tube station in 1992 in order to create further locations when EastEnders went from two to three episodes per week in 1993. The newer exterior sets including fish & chip shop, video shop and beauty salon have some interior filming space to create a greater sense of realism. As the show is filmed up to six weeks in advance, the trees need to have extra leaves stuck on them during the spring to make them look like they would in summer.
In February 2008 it was reported that Albert Square would transfer to Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, where a new set will be built as the current set is looking rather shabby, with its flaws showing up on high-definition television broadcasts. However, by April 2010 a follow-up report confirmed that Albert Square would remain at Elstree Studios for at least another four years, taking the set through its 25th anniversary. The set was consequently rebuilt for high definition on the same site, using mostly real brick with some areas using a new improved plastic brick. Throughout rebuilding filming would still take place, and so scaffolding was often seen on screen during the process, with some story lines written to accommodate the rebuilding, such as the Queen Vic fire. In January 2014 the BBC announced on the EastEnders website that the set has been approved to be expanded by twenty percent, on the same site, with a temporary set to be constructed to be used for filming while the current set is expanded.
- "Welcome to Albert Square". Inside Soap. 12–18 July 2014.
- Kilkelly, Daniel. "EastEnders reveals dramatic September storylines". Digital Spy. Retrieved 21 September 2014.
- Sets too shabby for latest TVs force EastEnders out of town Times Online
- EastEnders to stay at Elstree Studios Guardian
- "EastEnders set expansion". BBC.