Anthony Mcnicholas speaks to iNews about EastEnders’ 35th anniversary

18th February 2020

Eastenders has been on our screens for 35 years. First broadcast in 1985 the soap has long been covering important topics that informed the public, improved understanding of social and cultural issues, and addressed taboos. In an interview with iNews, Anthony McNicholas, director of the CAMRI PhD Programme, notes that the storylines help the BBC to meet its remit to inform, educate and entertain. “Education and entertainment don’t have to be separate from one another”, says media historian McNicholas. He continued, “I think the BBC still situates storylines in real life and tries to talk about real issues. People wouldn’t read an academic article about divorce or HIV but they will watch a drama [about it]. Popular dramas can engage people in serious issues.”

In dicussing how Eastenders came to be, McNicholas recalled how “people [once] thought soaps belonged in the north, in working class communities,” referring to Coronation Street, which is set in Manchester. But after carrying out extensive research, the BBC found a soap about a community in east London could work. They injected money into the project and “decided to do it properly”, he adds.

The full article can be read on the iNews Website.

McNicholas has previosuly published research about the influence of Eastenders, incluing “Wrenching the Machine Around: EastEnders, the BBC and Institutional Change” and “EastEnders and the Manufacture of Celebrity“.

 

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