During the affair storyline between Stacey Slater and Max Branning, Jo Joyner (who plays Max's wife Tanya) did not read any parts of the EastEnders scripts other than her own, as she felt her acting was improved by not knowing what Max did behind Tanya's back, and because she felt that she could better justify to herself why Tanya would not suspect Max of cheating if she in reality did not know what he was getting up to.
Danniella Westbrook has revealed that she became so affected by cocaine in 1995 that she would continuously mess up her lines, had to do take after take, was constantly late and needed prompts, and spontaneously fell asleep, once even passing out while she stood at the top of the Queen Vic stairs during filming, and was only saved from harming herself by Ross Kemp who caught her in his arms.
Maggie O'Neill was removed from the show only months into her contract due to reported extensive conflict with costars namely Samantha Womack who plays Ronnie Mitchell and Robert Kazinsky who played Sean Slater. Some of the stories meant to be including her character, Suzy Branning, had to be re-written such as the storyline in which Ronnie Mitchell finally finds out that her daughter Danielle Jones is still alive only to be killed by a car accident in which Suzy was originally meant to be driving the car until it was later changed to Janine Butcher being the driver.
Following the decision of Natalie Cassidy to leave the character of Sonia Fowler in 2007, it was originally planned for her on-screen former husband, Martin Fowler, portrayed by James Alexandrou, to murder her after failing to come to terms with her new lesbian relationship. In the end scriptwriters decided to reconcile the couple and have them leave together.
Originally it had been planned for Chrissie Watts' trial for the murder of her husband Den to be screened. However the idea was scrapped because the actresses Tracy Ann Oberman (Chrissie Watts), Kim Medcalf (Sam Mitchell) and Michelle Ryan (Zoe Slater) had all moved on to other projects.
In 1993, the show's theme tune was updated to a Jazzy version, first heard on 11 May 1993. However, it proved very unpopular with the viewers and was replaced with a remix of the original theme tune only 11 months later, from 11 April 1994.
To celebrate the soap's 25th anniversary, the Friday 19th February 2010 edition was performed and broadcast live on BBC1; it revealed which of the regular characters had killed Archie Mitchell during Walford's New Year festivities.
Barbara Windsor was opposed to the storyline which saw her character Peggy mount a hate campaign against Mark Fowler, played by Todd Carty, for being HIV positive. She later claimed "I got the most appalling hate mail because of it. I had a very dear friend of mine who was dying of AIDS so it was very personal to me. The last scene I did I went straight out and got terribly drunk."
The child abuse storyline with Kat Slater and her uncle Harry saw calls to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) go up by 60%. The chief executive of the NSPCC praised the storyline for covering the subject in a direct and sensitive way, coming to the conclusion that people were more likely to report any issues relating to child protection because of it.
As of February 2010 only one original cast member remains in the series: Adam Woodyatt has played Ian Beale continuously since 1985. The second longest serving was Wendy Richard who played Pauline Fowler for nearly 22 years between 1985 and 2006.
In May 2007 a storyline involving the kidnapping of the newborn baby of Dawn Swann (Kara Tointon) was scrapped because of similarities to the much-publicised abduction of 4-year-old Madeleine McCann in the Algarve, Portugal on 3 May 2007.
During the 'Who Shot Phil?' storyline, bookmakers William Hill said that around 50,000 bets were made on who was the culprit. Approximately 22 million viewers watched EastEnders on 5th April 2001, to find out that Lisa Shaw, Phil's ex-girlfriend, was the culprit. The episode caused the third-largest power surge on record (beaten only by the 1990 FIFA World Cup finals and 1984 climax of The Thorn Birds) and the kick-off of the Liverpool and Barcelona UEFA Cup semi-final was postponed for 15 minutes to avoid a clash with the scheduled episode.
In a 2009 radio interview with Dale Winton, Barbara Windsor said that three people have influenced her portrayal of Peggy Mitchell: Violet Kray (mother of the infamous East End gangsters, the Kray twins), her own mother, and the actor Mike Reid, who played her on-screen husband Frank Butcher.
The character of Jim Branning was written out of the show in August 2007 due to the actor John Bardon suffering a stroke. Bardon returned to film four separate episodes in the later half of 2008 and returned permanently from August 2009.
Reports in 2007 claimed that Tamwar Masood was to struggle with his sexual identity and be the first homosexual Muslim character featured in a British soap opera. This, however, was denied by the BBC. However this role has been taken by his older brother, Syed Masood.
Walford East is a fictional tube station for Walford, and with the aid of a map that was first seen on air in 1996, it has been established that Walford East is located between Bow Road and West Ham, which realistically would replace Bromley-by-Bow on the District and Hammersmith & City lines.
On 19 February 2015, as part of the 30th anniversary celebrations of the first episode being broadcast, Danny Dyer (Mick Carter) made the public-address station announcements at Bromley-by-Bow underground station which is the real-life station which is replaced by the fictional Walford East station on Tube maps in the show.
Originally there was a storyline written that the whole Ferreira clan killed their pushy father Dan, but actor Dalip Tahil could not get a visa for working in the UK, so the storyline was scrapped and instead Ronny Ferreira got stabbed.
Until 2011, the postal district E20 for Walford was fictitious: the highest "E" code that had been allocated was E18, South Woodford. However in March 2011 it was announced that the Olympic Stadium and surrounding area would be given E20 postcodes by the Royal Mail.
In 2006, Ricky Butcher was voted as the UK's favourite soap opera car mechanic in a poll of 500 people organised by car hire firm, Lingscar. 36% voted for Ricky played by Sid Owen, above Michael Le Vell, as Kevin Webster from Coronation Street (1960), who scored 34%; EastEnders' Steve McFadden as Phil Mitchell with 12%, and Kylie Minogue as Charlene Robinson from Neighbours (1985) with 7%.
Steve McFadden and Ross Kemp had attempted to persuade EastEnders writer Tony Jordan to develop a spin-off for their characters, Phil and Grant Mitchell, which would star Barbara Windsor as their mother Peggy. The idea never advanced beyond informal discussions, but when the producers decided to reintroduce Peggy, McFadden and Kemp suggested Windsor play her.
On the day of broadcast of the 2010 live episode, it was reported that EastEnders producers may have had to re-write the episode or run a pre-recorded rehearsal tape rather than go ahead with the live transmission, as Lacey Turner, who played Stacey Slater, was suffering from the flu and was unable to speak. In the event, Turner recovered enough to appear, though was given permission to whisper her lines if necessary. In the episode though she was able to deliver her dialogue as planned.
In January 2008, Dot Cotton became the first soap opera character to be featured in a monologue episode, known as a "single-hander". Written by Tony Jordan, the episode features Dot recording a message for her husband, Jim, who is in hospital recovering from a stroke. June Brown was nominated in the Best Actress category at the 2009 British Academy Television Awards for her performance in the episode, becoming the first soap actress nominated in the category since 1988, when Jean Alexander was shortlisted for her role as Hilda Ogden in Coronation Street (1960).
Anita Dobson, who played Angie Watts, did a recording of the Eastenders theme tune with lyrics called "Anyone Can Fall in Love". It reached #4 in the UK singles chart in 1986. The lyrics were written by Don Black and it was produced by Queen guitarist Brian May, who she later married. It was released by BBC Records. The B-side of the 7" single contained the original theme tune to the series.
According to former EastEnders writer, David Yallop, it had been agreed in September 1989, that Steven Beale would be killed off in the serial. This was part of producer Mike Gibbon's plan to increase the ratings by culling a large number of the soap's long-running cast. Yallop said, "We had to reach a decision with the illegitimate child who was in the process of being born as a result of an earlier storyline. We wanted to know what to do with it. Either the child would be allowed to live or it would die. They decided to make the child 'seriously ill', but the reprieve was temporary. In episode 606 I resolved the problem." He claimed that on his draft of the storyline he wrote the words "Baby die". The plot never came to fruition, as Gibbon was abruptly replaced as the soap's boss and Yallop's plots were scrapped.
In reality, at least two Albert Squares do exist in the East End of London, one in Stratford and the other in Ratcliff, E1. However, the show's producers actually based the Square's design on the real life Fassett Square in Dalston.
Leslie Grantham was only signed to do twelve episodes at the beginning of the series. According to Grantham himself, BBC executives Michael Grade and Jonathan Powell saw the first episode and were so impressed with his character that they recommended he should be brought to the forefront of the series.
Pete Beale was initially scheduled to be a short-term character. It had been decided way in advance that the big New Year cliffhanger of 1986 would be the killing-off of a character and the chosen person had to have the greatest effect on the remaining characters. Pete Beale was the obvious choice as his death would leave Kathy a widow and Ian (his son) would have to take over as head of the house. Lou was his mother, Pauline his sister and Den Watts his best-friend, and everyone knew him from the fruit and veg stall, so story lines were planned in which Pete would have a heart-attack; a shock tactic to revive interest in the show after the excitement of Christmas. At the last minute, Julia Smith got 'cold feet' and decided that Pete was too useful a character to lose so early in the programme's history.
Peggy Mitchell has the most expensive wardrobe to date and Barbara Windsor still has a big say in what her character wears each day. Peggy's huge hat collection is also one of the most treasured items on set.
Derek Martin, who played Charlie Slater, had got down to the last five for Den Watts when the series started but Julia Smith told him he wasn't "a ladies' man". He was also in the running to play Frank Butcher but was committed to another series, King & Castle (1986), instead.
Nigel Harman revealed in a 2003 interview that he actually auditioned for a character called "Tim", and had no idea that he was set to join the Watts family as Dennis Rickman, the unknown son of the soap's most "iconic" figure, Den Watts.
Angie Watts was originally due to be played by Jean Fennell. Publicity photos for the Radio Times magazine were taken of her alongside Leslie Grantham (Den Watts) and Letitia Dean (Sharon Watts). However she was sacked before the first episode was filmed because producers decided that she looked too elegant for the role and because she tried to change the character of Angie instead of playing her as directed. At the last minute, after Jean Fennell was sacked, the role of Angie was offered to Anita Dobson.
Penned scripts for the exit of Sid Owen as Ricky Butcher in April 2000 had to be rewritten to account for the absence of Mike Reid who played Ricky's father Frank. The storyline initially planned to have Frank and Ricky involved in one of EastEnders renowned two-hander episodes, but due to Reid's off-screen ill-health, Steve McFadden, who plays Phil Mitchell, had to stand in for the episode, which saw Ricky flee Walford.
Jill Gascoine was originally cast in the role of Glenda Mitchell, but withdrew from her filming commitments during her first day on set, as she felt that she "lacked the right experience to film such a big continuing drama". The part was subsequently recast to Glynis Barber.
Janet Dibley turned down the BBC's £130,000 pay offer after discovering they were planning to turn her character, Lorna Cartwright, into a prostitute who was to be gang raped. It would have been the first time the soap had shown such an attack, but Dibley feared the "harrowing scenes" would lead to her 6 year old son being taunted. Dibley allegedly heard about Lorna's intended storyline from rumours on set, and approached co-executive producer, Mike Hudson, to talk it through. After several meetings, Dibley told Hudson she was unsatisfied with the storyline and refused to sign a new contract. The producers were reportedly upset over her decision, "because they saw Janet becoming one of the most important stars of the show". The scripts were subsequently re-written and Lorna made her final appearance in April 1998.
On February 19th 2015, on the week on the live week to mark the soap opera's 30th anniversary: Adam Woodyatt admitted in an interview that his character Ian Beale killed Lucy Beale and reckoned that Ian would be going to prison, the following week.
For the episode which Peggy Mitchell dies. Instead of the regular closing credits sequence, the camera pulls up and we have an overhead shot of Albert Square, as the credits rolls. We then cut back to Peggy's room and we zoom in on Peggy's clock which is ticking and the clock stop ticking when it the big hand is on 10 and fades to black.
At the 2016 British Soap Awards, Steve McFadden won the Outstanding Achievement Award for his performances over the year as Phil Mitchell, which he has played since 1990 for a record breaking 26 years.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
In 2010, EastEnders aired their first ever live broadcast to celebrate their 25th anniversary all about who killed Archie, it was revealed to be Stacey Slater (Lacey Turner) but Bradley Branning died trying to take the blame. Then, in 2015, EastEnders celebrated their 30th anniversary again with a live broadcasted killer unveiling, Who Killed Lucy Beale. However instead of it being an obvious character, it turned out to be Lucy's younger brother, Bobby Beale. However Max Branning has been charged with her murder.
In the live 30th anniversary broadcast, it was revealed Bobby Beale murdered his half-sister Lucy and Bobby's parents Ian and Jane decided to cover up the truth behind Lucy's murder to protect Bobby and stop him from going to prison and later, Max Branning was wrongly arrested and imprisoned for the crime. By doing this, Ian and Jane have perverted the course of justice and if it was discovered Ian and Bobby covered up the truth about the crime. Both Ian and Jane could do 3 - 4 years in prison for that offense.
The Stacey, Kush and baby Arthur storyline, which Kush Kazemi is revealed as baby Arthur's biological father, after Kush had slept with Stacey Slater and Stacey and her fiancee Martin Fowler denying Kush of Arthur could set the stage for a possible future storyline which Arthur discovers Martin is not his biological father.