EastEnders: 20 surprising facts you didn’t know about the soap

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by Jadie Troy-Pryde |

It’s fair to say a lot has happened in Walford over the last thirty years. Since the show started in 1985, we have seen countless sordid affairs and scandalous love triangles, grisly murders and heart-breaking deaths, epic weddings and disastrous Christmas dinners ... And that’s just from the Mitchells!

Many people have been watching EastEnders ever since it first aired, but even the most knowledgeable EastEnders fans won’t know all of these well-kept Square secrets.

So get comfy, because this is the ultimate guide to everything you didn’t know about EastEnders …

1. EastEnders was almost called ‘Square Dance’

Yes, you read that correctly! Before the creators came up with ‘EastEnders’, ‘Square Dance’ was one of the show’s many working titles. Others included Round The Square, E8 and London Pride. We’re glad they chose EastEnders – Square Dance doesn’t do the drama justice!

2. The Watts were meant to have completely different names

Den, Angie and Sharon were the first resident family at The Vic when the show started, but their original character names were Jack, Pearl and Tracey. Dirty Jack just doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?

EastEnders

3. Dot Cotton has worn the same dress at Christmas for 28 years

Even the eagle-eyed fans among you may have missed the fact that Dot has worn the same red dress on the Christmas day episodes every year since 1988. It is the oldest costume in the entire EastEnders cast wardrobe – it’s almost as old as the show itself.

eastenders

4. Walford is a made-up place

Creators Julia Smith and Tony Holland were actually born in East London and decided to merge the names of their hometowns – Walthamstow and Stratford – to create the perfect setting for EastEnders. They put the two place names together to create the legendary Walford.

5. And E20 was a fake postcode – until 2011

When the Olympic Park was built in Stratford, it took on the fictitious postcode permanently.

6. The Queen Vic is actually empty inside

If you open the front door to The Vic in real life, you would be walking into an empty space with only a bar corner. The studio which houses the interior of the pub is located elsewhere on the set.

EastEnders

7. There’s around 2,500 hours’ worth of episodes

Which means that if you’ve been a fan since it first aired, you’ll have devoted 104 days of your life to watching the life unfold on Albert Square.

8. And every episode is exactly the same length

Each show has always stuck to a time formula of 27 minutes and 15 seconds.

9. You can get a real pint in The Vic

We all know that when the characters are knocking back the vodka at the bar that it’s really just water – but what we didn’t know was that there is actually beer in the pub pumps!

Dot Cotton

10. Phil Mitchell and Ian Beale are the Square’s most notorious grooms

They may have been enemies for longer than we can remember, but Phil and Ian both have something in common – they’ve both been married four times. How? We’re not quite sure! But Phil was wed to Nadia, Kathy, Kate and Sharon, and Ian has been married to Cindy, Laura, Mel and Jane. Because Ian married Jane a second time, he has walked down the aisle five times and therefore wins the title of ‘most married man’.

Pat Butcher

11. And Pat Butcher has been married more than any other woman on the show

She tied the knot four times in total, marrying Pete Beale, Brian Wicks, Frank Butcher and Roy Evans. It must have been that extensive earring collection!

Pat Butcher

12. They’re the hardest working actors on British TV

The EastEnders crew films between 25-30 scenes a day which produces roughly 13 minutes of an episode, whereas other dramas reach the six-minute mark. No wonder the pumps in The Vic have real alcohol!

13. Bianca was almost played by a Spice Girl

Before she became known as Baby Spice in the biggest girl group of the nineties, Emma Bunton auditioned for the role of Bianca.

Bianca Jackson

14. And Barbara Windsor was not meant to be Peggy Mitchell

It’s hard to imagine anyone else yelling, “Get aattaa my pub!” with the same enthusiasm, but Barbara Windsor was actually the fourth choice to play the iconic landlady.

15. Lots of the cast members didn’t get the role they initially auditioned for

Kellie Bright, who plays Linda Carter, originally went for the role of Tanya Branning; Derek Martin, who played Charlie Slater, auditioned to be both Den and Frank Butcher; and Lacey Turner impressed producers so much when she auditioned for the role of Demi Miller that they created Stacey Slater especially for her.

16. Living in Walford is more dangerous than being a bomb disposal expert

According to a scientific study, Walford is such a dangerous place to live that you’d also be safer taking a job as an oil rig diver or F1 driver. It is also far more dangerous than living in Weatherfield. We’re off to the cobbles …

17. Ian Beale is EastEnders longest-serving cast member

Actor Adam Woodyatt has been a part of the show since the very first episode, making him the show’s longest-serving character with 31 years under his belt. Pam St Clement devoted 25 years to the soap, putting Pat Butcher in second place.

Ian Beale

18. But he’s also the least-trusted

There have been three huge ‘who dunnits’ in Walford – Who Shot Phil? Who Killed Archie? And Who Killed Lucy Beale? – and Ian is the only character who has been a suspect for all three.

19. Both fires at The Queen Vic were started by the Mitchells

Grant burned the pub down in 1992 as part of an insurance scam, and Phil set it ablaze in 2010 after a drunken fight with his mum. Poor Peggy!

EastEnders

20. EastEnders once stopped the UEFA Cup semi-final

In 2001, the semi-final football match between Liverpool and Barcelona was postponed by 15 minutes because of the Who Shot Phil storyline. So there you have it – you don’t need any more proof that EastEnders is one of the best and most-loved soaps on TV!

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