INTERIM GIG – John Yorke, shown here in his EastEnders office in 2002 when he was executive producer, a role he is filling temporarily until a permanent hire is made by the BBC.
BOREHAMWOOD, ENGLAND – After only a year on the job, EastEnders executive producer Sean O’Connor abruptly resigned “with a heavy heart” in June to concentrate on his film career. O’Connor is being replaced on an interim basis by John Yorke, who last held the job January 2000 until May 2003.
Yorke more recently has been an independent producer, and since his last EastEnders stint he also headed drama for both the BBC and Channel 4.
Typically executive producers last two to three years on the job. It’s unclear whether lagging ratings prompted O’Connor’s departure. “I’ve had an amazing time at EastEnders,” said O’Connor, who reportedly had originally planned on leaving at the end of 2017.
Before joining EastEnders, O’Connor was the editor of BBC Radio 4’s The Archers, and he hadn’t significant television experience.
“I will miss everybody enormously. Elstree really is a place where you make friends for life,” said O’Connor, who will be working with Sherlock co-creator and League of Gentleman star Mark Gatiss.
In addition, O’Connor is writing a screenplay intended for a theatrical film about the murderer Neville Heath.
EastEnders is in good hands with Yorke, who has always been supportive of the Walford Gazette, as you can see above. In fact, prior to the news of his
EastEnders return, he commented on our exclusive interview with scriptwriter Jeff Povey in the current issue (No. 98).
Oliver Kent, head of continuing drama series at BBC Studios, commented: “John Yorke is a Walford legend and I am thrilled that he will be joining us for a short period to oversee the show … while we recruit a long-term successor.”
The Metro newspaper in London came up with 10 memorable EastEnders storylines Yorke oversaw when he last worked directly on the series:
1) The arrival of the Slaters
2) Who Shot Phil? (It was Lisa)
3) Dot agrees to helps Ethel die
4) Zoe to Kat: “You Ain’t My Muvva!”
5) Phil and Steve’s explosive car chase
6) Trevor’s physical abuse of Little Mo
7) Sonia gives birth without knowing she was pregnant
8) Jim and Dot’s wedding
9) The Truemans debut
10) Sam Mitchell recast