EastEnders in popular culture

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Since its premiere in 1985, EastEnders has had a large impact on popular culture.

In television[edit]

A charity special crossover between the science fiction television series Doctor Who and EastEnders, Dimensions in Time, was filmed in 1993 for Children in Need and ran in two parts on 26 November and 27 November 1993. It has been proven as non-canon by various references of Doctor Who as fiction in EastEnders, and vice versa. EastEnders has participated in numerous other Children in Need and other fundraisers.[1]

Characters have also been spoofed in the successful BBC comedy sketch show, The Real McCoy (1991–1995). EastEnders and its characters were frequently spoofed in the impressionist sketch show Big Impression, starring Alistair McGowan and Ronni Ancona. Big Impression once screened a one-off special, focusing on EastEnders, called Alistair McGowan's BigEnders. The cartoon sketch show 2DTV has also spoofed EastEnders on many occasions.

The character of Pauline Fowler was mentioned in the successful BBC drama This Life in 1997. In one episode of the show two key characters, Anna and Ferdy, watched an episode of EastEnders on television and mocked Pauline's hysterics and her well documented tendency to wear cardigans.

A special episode of A Question of Sport, A Question of EastEnders, was screened in 2000 to mark the show's fifteenth anniversary.

A sketch in a 1995 episode of A Bit Of Fry And Laurie is set in the Fowlers' kitchen, with Fry, Laurie, Imelda Staunton and Clive Mantle parodying the speech and mannerisms of the characters of Pauline Fowler and Pete Beale. The dramatic drums at the end of every episode were parodied by SMTV Live in a Friends spoof entitled Chums. The name EastEnders is spoofed in a series of pornographic films called RearEnders, which also spoof the EastEnders logo.[2]

In the last ever episode of Gimme Gimme Gimme, "Decoy", Linda faked a terminal illness to stop her flatmate, Tom, from moving out. When Tom discovered her lie, Linda defended herself by saying "Well, it worked for Angie Watts!", to which Tom replied "Den and Angie were married!" In this episode, Tom also mentioned throughout the series that he had had a role in EastEnders, as an extra, buying a cagoule from Bianca Jackson's clothes stall. Linda also has a stuffed toy called Carol Jackson.

In the third series of Bo' Selecta!, there was a weekly sketch called 'EastEndings', featuring Ali Osman and Kat Moon.[3]

An episode of Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps entitled "War, Hurrgh!" contains references to Peggy and Grant Mitchell, Angie Watts and Pat Butcher. The episode also ended with the same theme music as EastEnders. Another episode, "Speedycruise!" referred to Pauline and Martin Fowler, and the episode "Finger Sniffing" also refers to Peggy. Also, in the episode "When Janet Met Johnny", Donna sings the line "Don't stay in watching EastEnders." Also, in an episode of Pulling, the character of Donna asks "Who am I going to tell when I have an idea for a new plotline in EastEnders?".

In November 2005, Catherine Tate appeared in another sketch for Children In Need. The segment was a crossover between EastEnders and The Catherine Tate Show, featuring Barbara Windsor as Peggy Mitchell, Kacey Ainsworth as Little Mo Mitchell and Lacey Turner as Stacey Slater from EastEnders and Tate as her well-known character Lauren Cooper from The Catherine Tate Show.[4]

Shaun Williamson frequently plays himself in Ricky Gervais's Extras, where he is referred to at all times as "Barry from EastEnders". Derek Martin (Charlie Slater) appeared in episode three in the third series of Little Britain in 2005. The sketch primarily focused around the character Marjorie Dawes telling her Fat Fighters group not to mention the fact that Martin is in EastEnders, then mentioning it herself. In the Comic Relief special of Little Britain, the character Dennis Waterman refers to his "daughter - the one in EastEnders". This is a reference to the real actor Dennis Waterman, who is the father of Hannah Waterman, who played Laura Beale in the show.

In one episode of children's show TMi, featuring an interview with Matt Di Angelo (Deano Wicks) and Belinda Owusu (Libby Fox), host Mark Rhodes dressed up as Pauline Fowler, clutching a stuffed toy dog and grimacing at the camera, for a game.

In 2006 in the Doctor Who episode Army of Ghosts Barbara Windsor as Peggy Mitchell in EastEnders, where she bars a ghost whom she presumes to be Den Watts from The Queen Victoria. Watts, presumed killed in 1989, returned to the soap in 2003, before being killed a second time in 2005 after being written out of the show.

For Red Nose Day 2007, Aardman Animations created a Creature Comforts style short featuring the dog Wellard, who appeared in various places including Albert Square and outside a pub called The Dirty Den, asking other dogs for charity donations, attempting to sell his offspring and being put in prison.[5]

In the 2007 documentary F*** Off, I'm Ginger, Charlie Clements discussed his character Bradley Branning's geekiness, and the relation to his ginger hair. Pauline and Sonia Fowler were mentioned in the fourth episode of Gavin & Stacey. The fifth episode also referred to Shobu Kapoor by her character name, Gita, and mentioned Pat Butcher.

In The Kevin Bishop Show, Kevin Bishop portrays the actor David Mitchell who arrives in Albert Square as the third Mitchell brother. The sketches include parodies of the characters Peggy Mitchell and Stacey Slater and are filmed in the style of Peep Show, in which David Mitchell stars.

In a 2008 episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures entitled "The Mark of the Berserker", Rani physically forces her father to make an over exaggerated impression of the character Bianca yelling "Ricky!".

In 2010 in the Doctor Who episode "The Beast Below", The Queen Victoria pub can be seen briefly in the background. Later in Doctor Who Confidential in the episode "All About the Girl" it was revealed not to be the real Queen Vic pub but a set cut out.

In 2011 at the start of the National Television Awards a mini episode of Doctor Who entitled Dermot and the Doctor sees Dot Branning (June Brown) implying The Doctor only has one set of clothes and he regularly visits Bridge Street Laundrette.[6]

In December 2014, Olly Murs appeared in a special episode made for his ITV TV special A Night In With Olly Murs. In the episode, Murs stops off at Albert Square and meets Alfie Moon who mistakes him for Bruno Mars.

In music[edit]

BBC Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles remixed the Shaggy single "It Wasn't Me", singing about the "Who Shot Phil?" storyline. The theme tune of EastEnders has been parodied by MC Devvo, DJ Osymyso and Oxide & Neutrino. EastEnders is also mentioned in Sway DaSafo's remix of the Lily Allen song "LDN".

Ian Hunter's album Rant contains a song called "Dead Man Walkin' (EastEnders)".[7]

The Punk band The Dead Milkmen's 1988 album Beelzebubba contains a song called "Bad Party", which contains the lyrics, "I'm gonna shoot somebody / If they don't stop talking about EastEnders." British rap group Fierce Girl have a song, called "What Makes a Girl Fierce", with a chorus containing the lyrics, "Kat Slater is our sister."[8]

EastEnders is also mentioned in the song "Sirens" by Dizzee Rascal, "Kill the Director" by The Wombats, "Could Well Be In" by The Streets, and Tippa Irie's 'Complain Neighbour'

In theatre[edit]

EastEnders is referred to in John Godber's play Teechers. The drama students, Gail, Salty and Hobby, say that they have acted out a part of EastEnders, quoting "Hello, Arfur... All right, my love".

When Emmerdale actor Nick Miles (who plays Jimmy King) starred in a play at the Edinburgh Festival called Meeting Joe Strummer, his character was from Walford.[9] Miles said in an interview that his character was originally going to be from the village of Emmerdale, but it was changed to Walford for fun.

In advertising[edit]

During the 1990s, whilst on a hiatus from EastEnders, Mike Reid starred in an advert for the soft drink Oasis, whose slogan at the time was "Open, pour, be yourself once more". In the advert, Reid, dressed as Frank, drank the beverage and trod in a cow pat, after which he took on a miserable disposition and exclaimed "Pat... Oh Pat, what have you done to me Pat?" in a blatant reference to his EastEnders alter ego.

In 1997, a BT commercial promoting its Friends and Family service featured ten former EastEnders stars. In the commercial, Letitia Dean calls nine former cast members; Susan Tully, Tom Watt, Leslie Grantham, Anna Wing, Oscar James, Linda Davidson, Peter Dean, Michelle Collins (in a scene shot in Paris to reflect the fact an international number could be included in the list - the advert itself was aired shortly after Cindy Beale was seen leaving on the Eurostar) and Bill Treacher (in a scene shot on an allotment to reflect the fact that one mobile number could be included). The BBC threatened BT with legal action, but the telecoms company released the advert for screening anyway. A BT spokesman told The Sun, "We don't take orders from the Beeb."[10] The BBC withdrew its threat to sue after BT paid it an undisclosed five-figure amount.[11]

Leslie Grantham also appeared in an advertisement for Radox Everfresh in the late 1990s. The first line of the commercial was "Not so Dirty Den now, eh?", and the final line was "Life after soap... no problem".


A promotional picture of Pauline Fowler and Joe Macer was used on the official Torchwood website, in a fictional magazine article about aliens.[12] Ben Rawson Jones compares the arguments between Gwen and Rhys in Torchwood to "the kitchen sink melodrama usually seen in EastEnders".[13]

The Office for National Statistics have attributed the rise in babies called Ruby in 2006 to the character of Ruby Allen.[14]

It is also mentioned frequently in the Shopaholic book series written by Sophie Kinsella as the favourite TV show of Becky Bloomwood, the main character.

The monthly Dot Cotton Club, a gay club night in Cambridge, is named after the character of Dot Branning, who was previously named Dot Cotton.[15] Dot is probably the most notable smoker on British television as she rarely appears on-screen without a cigarette. The character is so synonymous with smoking that the term "Dot Cotton syndrome" is used within the health industry to: "describe the elderly population who continue to smoke heavily without registering the health problems they are or will soon suffer from, seeing it as their only pleasure left in life".[16]

Chris Moyles' Difficult Second Book contains a chapter called "There Is No Carry On in EastEnders", referring to many things that cannot exist in the EastEnders fictional world, due to actors appearing in both TV shows, including Spandau Ballet (Martin Kemp), Carry On (Barbara Windsor), Grange Hill (Todd Carty and Susan Tully), Hotel Babylon and Red Cap (Tamzin Outhwaite), Jonny Briggs and Star Wars (Leslie Schofield), Lovejoy and Only Fools and Horses (John Bardon), Bergerac, Inspector Morse and Minder (Perry Fenwick), The Sweeney and Eldorado (Derek Martin), Are You Being Served? and Dad's Army (Wendy Richard), "Parklife" and Quadrophenia (Phil Daniels) and A Touch of Frost (Kyte).

The comic book League of Extraordinary Gentlemen vol 1 #6 included characters named Mitchell and Watts (described as a "dirty denizen of the East End") in the Artful Dodger's gang in the late 19th century.[17]


  1. ^ "BBC Children In Need 2004" BBC Press Office. URL last accessed 2007-02-18
  2. ^ "RearEnders 2 video cover". URL last accessed 2007-02-07
  3. ^ "Reviews", thecustard.tv. URL last accessed 2006-11-19
  4. ^ "Catherine Tate appears in Walford", bbc.co.uk. URL last accessed 2007-02-18
  5. ^ "You'll Love The Big One!", The Daily Mirror. URL last accessed 2007-03-23.
  6. ^ "National Television Awards Doctor Who Scene". 26 January 2011. Retrieved 10 March 2017. 
  7. ^ "Discography", ianhunter.com. URL last accessed 2007-03-04
  8. ^ "What Makes a Girl Fierce", Red Flag Records. URL last accessed 2007-04-11.
  9. ^ "Meeting Joe Strummer", Edinburgh Festivals. URL last accessed 2006-11-10
  10. ^ "BT to defy the Beeb on Cindy's ad". The Sun. News Group Newspapers. 9 January 1997. p. 9. 
  11. ^ "Payout ends soap ads row". The Daily Mirror. MGN. 13 January 1997. p. 15. 
  12. ^ "MAGAZINE ARTICLE, 2007", BBC. URL last accessed 2006-11-19
  13. ^ "S02E04: 'Meat'". Digital Spy. 6 February 2008. Retrieved 2010-01-01. 
  14. ^ "Jack and Olivia top baby names", BBC News. URL last accessed 2006-12-23
  15. ^ "Dot Cotton Club" Dot Cotton Club website. URL last accessed 2006-10-11
  16. ^ "Medical education via the mass media", Student BMJ. URL last accessed 2006-10-23.
  17. ^ Jess Nevins' Notes On League of Extraordinary Gentlemen #6 URL last accessed 2009-3-14