The thrice weekly soap was created by Julia Smith and Tony Holland who had created EastEnders together in 1985 and previously worked together on the medical soap Angels. The soap was a co-production between the BBC and Cinema Verity the company founded by Verity Lambert the first producer of Doctor Who.
Eldorado primarily revolved around ex-pats living in the Costa Del Sol in Spain in the fictional town of Los Barcos. The soap ran between 1992 and 1993 clocking up 156 episodes before it was cancelled by Alan Yentob shortly after he was appointed controller of BBC One. However, nearly twenty years later it seems as though there may yet be life in Eldorado because the BBC’s new director general, George Entwistle, is coming under some pressure to revive it.
Paul Davies, who worked on the soap, has called for Eldorado‘s return in the BBC’s in-house magazine Aerial. He wrote ““Critics would argue it was hubristic, too excessive and the axe deserved to fall prematurely. I would argue it was ambitious, ahead of its time and an example of the BBC machine working at its very best. I just hope a channel controller sees the potential and commissions a revisit to Eldorado in the future.”
Last year writer Tony Jordan, who has written extensively for EastEnders and also for Eldorado, also called for the soaps return. Jordan said :”I think we should bring Eldorado back. It’s a fantastic brand – although obviously not in the way it was first done, and I wrote the first episode so I’m allowed to say that.”
Eldorado starred Jesse Birdsall, Patricia Brake, Derek Martin, Polly Perkins and Campbell Morrison. The soap was quickly lampooned by the press soon after its launch because of its perceived dodgy acting, poor scripts and set problems. However, behind-the-scenes issues were the cause of those problems with the BBC bringing forward its premier date forcing production to begun before the sets were completed, scripts were written and actors prepared.
After six months on air Eldorado underwent a successful revamp with productions problem ironed out, new actors brought on board and script-writers brought over from England to the set in Spain. The revamp saw a turnaround in the soaps fortunes with ratings climbing back to 8 million viewers per episode but the press had done its damage and its reputation sealed its fate. The final few weeks of Eldorado saw ratings surge to 12 million viewers and its cancellation was something Alan Yentob later admitted was a mistake.