Why It's Not the Ender the Road for EastEnders; as East Enders Celebrates Its 20th Anniversary TV Editor Peter Grant Asks, Will It Be around for Its 40th?

Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England), February 18, 2005 | Go to article overview

Why It's Not the Ender the Road for EastEnders; as East Enders Celebrates Its 20th Anniversary TV Editor Peter Grant Asks, Will It Be around for Its 40th?


IT may be London-based, but it isn't just southerners who have helped to put Walford on the map over the last 20 years.

Quite a few Merseysiders also have a particular interest in seeing Dirty Den killed off for a second time in tonight's anniversary episode.

Scriptwriter Shaun Duggan, screenwriter Fred Lawless and former East Enders producer Mal Young have all been involved in some of the show's biggest story lines - and have gone on to watch as the soap has come under increasing attack from critics.

But Mal says stories about the Walford soap being axed or reduced in air time - or even losing the plot - are simply down to media hype.

The ex-Brookside producer and ex-head of BBC drama serials has now moved on to work with Simon Fuller's 19 company. But he says he will always respect and admire the BBC's prime soap.

``East Enders is here to stay, '' he says. ``It will be around in 20 years time - most definitely. I can't imagine a telly landscape without Albert Square. ''

He adds: ``As long as it keeps contemporary and relevant, East Enders will always have a place in the viewers' affections.

``Shaun Duggan and another scriptwriter, Tony Jordon, although from Merseyside, understand the essence of East Enders and bring a lot of skills that make a great soap - characterization, real dialogue, great `talk about' stories. ''

Mal says humour certainly has a place and is a vital ingredient for all drama. But East Enders, he believes, would not suit the more broad use of humour like that used in Coronation Street.

He stresses: ``East Enders has to be more real, and sometimes has to have quite dark humour.

``Alfie Moon, played by Shane Richie, is a very well-liked character, but I think he's liked just as much for his harder, more dramatic side, as for his lighter moments.

``I personally think Pat Butcher, Dot Cotton and Pauline Fowler, can be very funny, but in a very real way. ''

Shaun Duggan was one of Brookside's top writers and the man who gave us the lesbian kiss. He joined East Enders two years ago.

``My first episode was all about Peggy Mitchell, I was really excited to be writing for Barbara Windsor, but she fell ill days before filming and the whole thing was rewritten at the last minute. It was completely stressful. I assumed it was a one-off, but these things seem to happen a lot in soap, especially at East Enders.

``At the moment I'm writing episodes that will go out at the beginning of April. It's quite a fast turn-around. ''

Does Shaun think East Enders will be around in another 20 years time?

``I'm absolutely certain it will. Just look at Coronation Street . . . it's going from strength to strength at the moment. Both programmes will always have dips in form and the Press will always milk that. …

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