Like most soap operas as time goes on they become less about the place they’re supposed to be rooted in as sensational plots take over from the everyday story of people and places, but EastEnders boss Dominic Treadwell-Collins plans to get the real world back into his fictional East End square.
Speaking to the Radio Times he has announced that the show is to ‘reflect the modern world’ in the long running serials’ storylines. Treadwell-Collins admitted that for a long time the BBC One saga, which debuted in 1985, has been “frozen in aspic”.
When the series started it was human issues which took the lead of story teling, yes there were murders and fires, but the series also covered unemployment, depression and social issues from struggling single mothers, working class ambitions to petty crime. In recent times EastEnders, along with all soaps, have failed to react to social issues affecting the kind of characters in the sagas, no one’s struggling to feed the family, pay the bills or find a job. No one has been on a protest rally or injured in a riot.
While Channel 4’s Brookside pioneered visually those kind of ‘issue lead’ storylines, even the more family-friendly daytime sagas such as Crossroads managed to mix social issues relevant to society at the time with the comedy and generalised dramas of a soap opera.
Executive Producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins has, since taking over the BBC Elstree production, made it clear he’s a fan of the early earthy days of EastEnders and wants to see the series, which has been in the doldrums with poor plots, emphasis on the ‘Digital Spy youth audience’ and falling ratings, restored to its previous award winning, ratings success as an all-round family saga, for all the family.
EastEnders has to sing new songs, otherwise it doesn’t feel fresh… Sharon said recently that she’s looking to be a landlady and as a result you’ll see the edges of Shoreditch creeping into EastEnders. It’s got to reflect the modern world.
It has to be about people and feelings and emotions. I’ve never been a fan of blowing things up – Treadwell-Collins in the Radio Times
Sharon, played by Letitia Dean, has been in the show, on and off, since the first episode. Dominic has also been luring back a few other old faces.
It’s good to have one foot in the past while looking to the future.
The future has been set out with two events, one on-screen, the other behind the scenes. Firstly there is a new lead family, the Carters headed by actor Danny Dyer.
My idea is to make the show feel fresh with the Carters, but also a bit nostalgic by bringing back characters we love.
The off-screen change is the entire outdoor set at BBC Elstree being rebuilt to make it more realistic – and bigger with more locations.
It’s wonderful news that Dominic wants to to see the soap focus less on action and more on character, its something we’ve been saying here at ATV Today for years, darling. But the know-it-alls were focusing on the kiddy audience that had the IQ of a sprout.
It was also nice to see actor Martin Shaw also criticsing the BBC’s obsession with youth in the Radio Times, maybe they’ll start providing what the public service broadcaster should be doing – programmes for all ages not just teens, because I’m not one dear and I don’t want to watch pubescent brats having trauma over their love life. – ATV critic Queenie
Treadwell-Collins took over as EastEnders executive producer in August 2013. The series recently lost out to Coronation Street for best continuing drama as the National Television Awards.
[Pictured Top: Glory Days: The Watts family in 1985, Pictured Middle: Restoring the fortunes: The Carter family in 2013.]