Where and when?

British soap opera since 1985, now shown on BBC1 4 times a week, with an omnibus edition every Sunday afternoon. It is set on Albert Square in the fictional London borough of Walford which is supposably in the east end of London (hence the name). It is one of the best things on tv; indeed I believe it to be worth a good slice of the license fee.

It consistently gets some of the highest ratings figures in the UK, and has recently been trouncing its main rival on ITV, Coronation Street. Unlike their American cousins, British soap operas are usually set in working class areas, and feature ordinary people - this is a strong reason for their wide appeal. Eastenders upholds these traditions, and is frequently criticised for being 'depressing', and it's true that the characters usually face far more downs then ups. The Christmas Day episodes of Eastenders are notorious for always ending in heart break and disaster, usually accompanied by death or at the very least a nervous breakdown.

Past storylines

The action in Eastenders predominately features in the public house, the Queen Vic a quintessential east end boozer, and the open air market of Albert Square. The main storylines usually involve some conflict between the landlord(s) of the Queen Vic (the Watts and Mitchells), and the families of market traders (the Fowlers and Beales). The acting is generally of a high quality although they are the odd exception to the rule. Eastenders has never been afraid to deal with controversial storylines; Mark Fowler became the first soap opera character to have to deal with HIV, a gay couple have been featured living together, and a euthansia storyline was carefully played out involving Dot Cotton. Of course there has been the normal soap diet of murder, marriage, teenage pregnancies, adultery and rape.

Many of the most prominent characters in Eastenders have links to a rarely seen criminal underworld, and the Walford police and various lawyers feature heavily enough to become likeably recurring characters themselves when they are called on to the stage. These presences reinforce the claims that have made by some that Eastenders is the modern day Charles Dickens, and while this may seem like a ridiculous statement at first, it should be remember that Dickens wrote in serials that were published at regular interval and was a geninuely popular writer.

The appeal

Some of Eastenders recent storylines have captured the public imagination. When Steve Owen (played by ex Spandau Ballet bassist Martin Kemp) escaped punishment for murdering his wife, there was an assumption that he would get his comeuppance, though to date this has yet to occur (though as Kemp has announced he is soon to leave the soap, it might be advisable to keep watching). Similary the 'who shot Phil Mitchell?' storyline got one of the highest UK tv audiences tuned in ever, and the revelation of his ex-girlfriend Lisa Shaw being the culprit caught most viewers on the hop.

However what has really set Eastenders above the competition recently is the trials and tribulations of the Slater family. The family were introduced and allowed to simmer in the background as glimpses of secrets from the families past were subtly hinted and implied. Then after about a year, the relevations came out and a flurry of incest, child abuse, attempted suicides, prostitution and domestic violence hit our screens. The acting was top notch and in the wake of September 11 the emotional impact was both draining and exhilarating.

My brilliant career

Like most soaps, Eastenders has suffered from the desire of soap stars to leave, usually to attempt to launch a film or music career, but many of them have returned to the roles that made them famous. The only ex-Eastender actor I can think of who has gone onto surpass what they achieved on the soap, is Nick Berry and even he has stuck to appearing in traditonal tv dramas. On the other hand Eastenders has helped to rejuvenate many well known actors careers, most notably Barbara Windsor and Wendy Richard - well known faces to British viewers who are now competing in their roles as dominating matriarchs Peggy Mitchell and Pauline Fowler. Many of the younger actors have graduated from the childrens BBC drama, Grange Hill, the most notably of these being Todd Carthy who plays Mark Fowler.

Eastenders has managed to get some notable past stars of British film and stage to appear in guest in cameo roles, last year alone, Michael Elphick, Susan George, Cherie Lunghi, Sheila Hancock have made their way to Albert Square, while jungle pioneer Goldie also made an appearance.

A great irony about Eastenders success is that the set is actually in Elstree Studios in leafy Hertfordshire, where a number of BBC shows are produced such as Top of the Pops. When Stuart Murdoch of Belle and Sebastian was appearing on the latter he nearly found himself manhandled by an irate secrurity guard when he decided to have a wander round Albert Square.

Why I watch it

Eastenders certainly has an addictive quality and this is not helped by the fact that if you miss an episode it is easy to catch up with the omnibus on Sunday afternoon. Another reason why I prefer it to Coronation Street is that you are not interrupted by adverts after ten minutes. But its gritty realism is the main reason for its popularity amongst all sections of the UK population, the only major error that I can think that has been made on Eastenders was when Pauline Fowler went to Ireland and an over-zealous set designer went overboard woth the sheep and goats, resulting in scores of complaints from irate viewers accusing the programme of promoting Irish stereotypes. However asides from that the only major gaffes are when the actors occasionally betray their non-Cockney roots by misprouncing some London placename (Plaistow is a particular favourite), or the fact that none of the characters ever seem to watch soaps, unlike you or I. But still I guess I will be watching on Sunday.

Eastenders family trees

Below are the family trees for some of the major families in the BBC TV soap opera Eastenders, as of the start of 2003. Each entry in the tree gives a character name. Below this is the name of the actor who played the role, and below that are the dates of birth (b), marriage (m) and/or death (d) of the character (not the actor). The symbol "=" is used to indicate a marriage, and "x" to show where a couple had a child outside of marriage, whether or not they were in a relationship at the time. A "+" by a character's name indicates they are dead.

Most of the material for this is taken off the BBC website at http://www.bbc.co.uk/eastenders

I have hardlinked the most important actors on the show. If you want me to include a link to someone else, please /msg me. Also contact me if you have problems with the formatting, or suggestions as to how it could be better displayed.


                         Albert = Lou+
                         Beale+   Anna
                                | Wing
    |               |                             |                             |
    |               |                             |                             |
Margaret      Kenny Beale = Barbara Beale      Pauline = Arthur     Pat [1] = Pete   = [2]Kathy
Medeeny                   |                    Beale     Fowler     Wicks     Beale+   Hills
    |                     |                    Wendy   | Bill       Pam St.   Peter    Gillian
    |                     |                    Richard | Treacher   Clements  Dean     Taylforth
    |                Elizabeth                         | m 1965     m 1963             m 1968 
    |                                                  |                                 | 
Conor   = Geraldine    ________________________________|_______________    Cindy [1] = Ian     = [2]Melanie = [3]Laura
Flaherty               |                          |                   |    Williams+   Beale     Healy        Dunn
Sean                   |                          |                   |    Michelle    Adam      Tamzin       Hannah
Gleesom        Mark Fowler                        |                   |    Collins     Woodyatt  Owthwaite    Waterman
    |          Todd Carty           Den     x Michelle x Grant        |     m 1989               m 1999       m 2001
    |          b 1968               Watts+    Fowler     Mitchell     |         |
    |          = [1]Gill            Leslie    Susan      Ross         |         |
Mary             Robinson+          Grantham  Tully      Kemp       Martin      |____________
Flaherty         m 1992                |                  |         Fowler      |           |
Melanie        = [2]Ruth Aitken        |                  |         James       |           |
Clark Pullen     Caroline Paterson     |                  |         Alexandrou  |           |
                 m 1995                |                  |         b 1985      |           |
               = [3]Lisa Shaw        Vicki              Mark                  Lucy         Peter
                 Lucy Benjamin       Fowler             Fowler, Jr            Beale        Beale
                 m 2002                                                       Casey Anne   Joseph
                                                                              Rothery      Shade
                                                                              b 1993       b 1993

Mitchell (and Raymond)

           (see below)
Eric [1]  = Peggy   = [2] Frank                                      Louise [1] = Terry   = [2] Irene
Mitchell              Butcher                                                   | Raymond   Roberts
m 1960      Barbara   Mike                                                      | Gavin     Roberta
      |     Windsor   Reid                                  ____________________| Richards  Taylor
      |     b 1942    m 1999                                |                   |
      |                                             Simon Raymond b 1974        |
      |                                             Andrew Lynford              |
            |                                      |                                         | 
            |                                      |                            |            |
Kathy   = Phil     x Lisa           Sharon [1] = Grant    x Michelle    = [2]Tiffany      Sam Mitchell   = Ricky
Beale     Mitchell   Shaw           Watts        Mitchell   Fowler        Raymond         Daniella         Butcher
Gillian   Steve      Lucy           Letitia      Ross       Susan         Martine         Westbrook then   Sid
Taylforth McFadden   Benjamin       Dean         Kemp       Tully         McCutcheon      Kim Medcalf      Owen
m 1995    b 1961       |            m 1991       b 1962       |           b 1976          b 1975           m 1991
 |                     |                                      |           m 1997|
 |                     |                                      |              |
Ben                  Louise                                 Mark          Courtney
Mitchell             Fowler                                 Fowler, Jr    Mitchell

Second branch (Billy is Peggy's first huband Eric's first cousin)

                   Billy's paternal
              |                |
         Peggy's unnamed    Billy's unnamed
         father in law      father
             |               __|_____________________
             |               |                      |
 Peggy  = Eric            Billy    ? Maureen      Charlie   = Lynne
 Barbara  Mitchell        Mitchell   Slater       Mitchell+   m 1981
 Windsor  (see above)     Perry      Kacey          |
 m 1960                   Fenwick    Ainsworth      |
 (see above)              b 1959                    |
                                                 b 1982
                                                 d 2002


(i) The Slaters

                                           |                       |
                      unknown x Mo     = Jimmy                   Pat
                         |      Porter   Harris                  Harris
 ________________________|      Leila    m 1965                  Pam St.
 |                              Morse      |                     Clement
 |           James              b 1936     |                     (see below)
 |           Slater                      __|_______________
 |              |                        |                |
 |       _______|__________________     Billy            Jean
 |       |                        |
Viv = Charlie                     |
      Slater                      |
      Derek                       |
      Martin                      |
      m 1967                      |
        |                         |
        |                         | 
  |                     |                   |               |
  |                     |         |         |               |
Lynne  = Gary         Kat     x Harry    Belinda = Neville  |
Slater   Hobbs        Slater    Slater   Slater    Peacock  |
Elaine   Ricky        Jessie    Michael  Leanne             |
Lordan   Groves       Wallace   Elphick  Lakey              |
b 1968   m 2001       b 1970 |                              |
                             |                  Trevor = Maureen  ? Billy
                           Zoe                  Morgan   Slater     Mitchell
                           Slater               Alex     Kacey      Perry
                           Michelle             Ferns    Ainsworth  Fenwick
                           Ryan                          b 1977
                           b 1984

(ii) The husbands of Pat Harris-Beale-Wicks-Butcher-Evans

         (see above)
Pete [1] = Pat     = [2] Brian = [3] Frank   = [4] Roy
Beale+     Harris    Wicks           Butcher       Evans 
Peter      Pam St.   m 1967          Mike          Tony
Dean       Clement       |           Reid          Caunter
m 1936     b 1942        |           m 1989        b 1935
                         |                         m 1996
                    |         |
       Carol    x David     Simon x Cindy
       Branning   Wicks     Wicks   Williams+
       Lindsay    Michael   Nick    Michelle
       Coulson    French    Berry   Collins
                |                 |
                |                 |
             Bianca            Steven
             Jackson           Beale
             Patsy             Edward
             Palmer            Savage
                               b 1989

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