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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 every weekday apart from Wednesdays.

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 TV programmes in Britain. In 2013, the average audience share for an episode was around 30 per cent. 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 United Kingdom mainstream television.

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Selected character

Pauline Fowler is portrayed by Wendy Richard between the first episode on 19 February 1985 and 25 December 2006. Pauline was created by scriptwriter Tony Holland and producer Julia Smith as one of EastEnders' original characters. She made her debut in the soap's first episode and is the second longest-running original character, surpassed only by her nephew, Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt). Pauline is a member of the Beale family. Her storylines focus on drudgery, money worries and family troubles. The matriarchal stalwart of the fictional London community of Albert Square, she is portrayed as a loving, doting mother who is very family-oriented. In later years, however, she becomes a more stoic, opinionated battle-axe who alienates her relatives through overbearing interference. Pauline is married to the downtrodden Arthur Fowler (Bill Treacher), though she finds out he has had a one-night stand with Christine Hewitt, which leads to her hitting him with a frying pan. She is used for comedic purposes in scenes with her launderette colleague, Dot Cotton (June Brown), and scriptwriters included many feuds in her narrative, most notably with her daughter-in-law, Sonia Fowler (Natalie Cassidy), and Den Watts (Leslie Grantham). Richard announced Pauline's retirement from the serial in July 2006, and the character was killed off in a "whodunnit" murder storyline, with Richard making her final appearance on 25 December 2006. (read more...)

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Selected episode

"Pretty Baby...." is an episode of EastEnders that was broadcast on BBC One on 31 January 2008. It is the only EastEnders episode to feature just one character and the first of its kind in soap. It was written by Tony Jordan, directed by Clive Arnold and produced by Diederick Santer. The episode features Dot Branning, played by June Brown, recording a message for her husband Jim Branning (John Bardon), who is in hospital recovering from a stroke, reflecting Bardon's real-life stroke, which saw him written out of the show and allowed the opportunity for the single-hander to arise. Jordan's scripting was inspired by Samuel Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape. The episode was watched by 8.86 million viewers and received mixed reviews from critics. Brown received a British Academy Television Award nomination for Best Actress in 2009 for her performance in the episode. (read more...)


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