Ah, EastEnders. It may be one of the most depressing shows on TV, but it’s been beloved to viewers’ hearts since it first aired way back in 1985.
Think you’re the biggest ‘Enders fan out there? Check out these surprising facts, and think again…
1) Peggy Mitchell wasn’t always played by Barbara Windsor. When the character first appeared in 1991, actress Jo Warne was in the role.
She starred in 10 episodes, which focused on her daughter Sam’s teen elopement storyline with Ricky Butcher (Sid Owen).
2) Creators Julia Smith and Tony Holland decided on the name EastEnders after realising they’d been phoning casting agencies asking for ‘any real East Enders’.
Smith thought Eastenders looked ugly written down, so she capitalised the second ‘E’. Other names considered included E8, Square Dance, Round the Square, Round the Houses and London Pride.
3) The majority of Dot Cotton (June Brown)’s clothes come from charity shops. She wears the same dress every Christmas, and it’s the oldest item in the wardrobe department.
4) Den, Angie and Sharon Watts (Leslie Grantham, Anita Dobson and Letitia Dean) were originally going to be called Jack, Pearl and Tracy.
5) The name Walford is a combination of the East London locations where creators Julia Smith and Tony Holland were born. ‘Wal’ comes from Walthamstow and ‘Ford’ is from Stratford.
6) Emma Bunton auditioned for the role of Bianca Jackson, which was eventually given to Patsy Palmer. She also played a troubled teen in 1992.
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7) The character of Stacey Slater was created especially for actress Lacey Turner, after she auditioned to play the smaller part of Demi Miller.
8) Derek Martin – better known as Charlie Slater – had previously auditioned for the roles of Den Watts and Frank Butcher.
9) Robbie Fowler’s dog Wellard may have been male, but he was played by three female dogs over the years.
10) Since 2010, CGI has been used to animate the trains.
11) Danniella Westbrook landed the role of Sam Mitchell because producers thought her round face resembled on-screen brothers Phil and Grant’s (Steve McFadden and Ross Kemp).
12) Water is used instead of vodka and gin in The Vic, and burnt sugar is added for whisky. Diluted apple juice is in place of white wine – but the beer in the pumps is real.
13) Robbie Williams made a cameo back in 1995.
14) Each episode is exactly 27 minutes 15 seconds long.
15) Adam Woodyatt (Ian Beale) is the last remaining original cast member, having joined ahead of the first episode in 1985.
He married dancer Beverley Sharp at Disney World Florida in 1998 and the couple have two children.