UKTV channel Drama is to repeat episodes of EastEnders starting this August.
UKTV has confirmed to ATV Today that classic editions of the BBC produced soap opera will begin on their Drama channel from early August.
The rerun will begin with episode one from February 1985 and is to be screened weekdays at noon, marking the first time the soap’s earliest episodes have been rerun in many a year.
UKTV previously showed classic EastEnders on their UKTV Gold channel, starting from 1985 in 1992 and then rewinding back to the start again in 1996. Reruns thereafter started from a later year in the programme’s history. In October 2008, the reruns ceased on Gold with UKTV’s Watch channel later resuming them until October 2009, ending with episodes from December 2006.
EastEnders‘ presence on the UKTV Network has since comprised only of a late-night repeat of the most recent BBC One episode and occasional repeats of special documentaries and compilation shows.
BBC One also repeated the first sixty-odd episodes in 1995 to mark the show’s 10th anniversary whilst BBC Worldwide in 2012 made a number of early editions available on YouTube, however as of 2018 these are no longer available.
EastEnders is set in the fictional east London borough of Walford focusing on the residents of Albert Square with the lion’s share of the early storylines going to warring husband-and-wife publicans Den and Angie Watts and the interlinked Fowler and Beale families. Subjects explored early on included murder, infidelity, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), teenage pregnancy, poverty, and unemployment.
Adam Woodyatt, who plays Ian Beale, is the only cast member who has remained with EastEnders continuously since the first episode. Viewers will be able to re-live Ian’s early days as well as those of Sharon Watts, played by Letitia Dean, and Kathy Beale played by Gillian Taylforth. Fondly remembered departed characters include Anna Wing as Lou Beale, Wendy Richard as Pauline Fowler, Leslie Grantham as Den Watts, Anita Dobson as Angie Watts, and John Altman as Nick Cotton.
Classic EastEnders follows the successful reruns of 1980s Coronation Street on ITV3. Drama last year began repeating The Bill from its first episode however have jumped over a decade due to lower than expected ratings.