By Larry Jaffee
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – Getting a jump on EastEnders’ 30th anniversary 19 February, several dozen Yanks here reveled on all things Walford the afternoon of 14 February in this American city situated in the vicinity of the great 1960s US sitcom, the Andy Griffith Show. No sheriff was needed to break up any rowdy punters a la Grant & Phil or Nasty Nick.
Since it was Valentine’s Day, attendees were encouraged to dress up as Albert Square’s all-time favourite couple, Kat & Alfie, and many did. But they’re were also other characters on hand, such as Dot Cotton, Bianca Jackson and Den Watts, as you can see from the photos.
The ringleaders of the festivities were the Charlotte EastEnders Fan Club co-presidents Melissa Berry, Melanie Campbell and Shonni Dixon.
“I was determined that our club would have the biggest and best collection of EE memorabilia this side of the pond,” explains Berry, known colloquially as “Mo,” once gifted a pair of earrings to Pam St Clement so that Pat Butcher would wear them on EastEnders, and she did! “At one point in time, my home office became what was jokingly referred to as the NC EE Museum,” she adds. Much of the mobile museum was on display at the party.
Checking the authenticity of the knees-up was Cockney journalist Ruairdh Connelian, whose reportage apparently is headed for one of the UK tabloids this week.
These Charlotte club fans’ stellar reputation and memorable parties precede them. The BBC in 2009 sent a camera crew to North Carolina to film Shane Richie (Alfie) for a Children in Need segment.
This club supports the annual fundraiser for UNC-TV, the public television station that broadcasts EastEnders, one of ten US over-the-air outlets that still show the series after so many have canceled it, with typical management explanations of low ratings. On Facebook, the club also offers an active constantly updated “spoilers” page.
As the adage goes, apparently the grass is always greener on the other side.