Walford Gazette: ONLY 16 U.S. PUBLIC TV STATIONS LEFT CARRYING EASTENDERS

ONLY 16 U.S. PUBLIC TV STATIONS LEFT CARRYING
EASTENDERS

NEW YORK—-EastEnders on public television in the U.S.
has gone through a rough patch this year with the
latest station announcing cancellation being
WPTD/ThinkTV 16 of Dayton, OH, on the heels of further
cancellations in Philaldephia (WHYY), San Jose (KTEH)
and Plattsburgh, NY (WCFE).

The Walford Gazette thought that it might be a
good time to take stock of who’s left.

According to BBC Worldwide, which sells the
programs to public TV stations, there are 16 stations
left still carrying EastEnders.

In no particular order, they include:

  • WSKG – Binghamton, NY
  • WLVT – Allentown, PA
  • WPBS – Watertown, NY
  • WGCU – Fort Myers, FL
  • WCVE – Richmond, VA
  • North Carolina Public Television
  • WLIW – Plainview, NY
  • WETA – Arlington, VA
  • WPBT – Miami, FL
  • KUHT – Houston, TX
  • Prairie Public TV, Fargo, ND
  • KTCA, St. Paul, MN
  • WCNY, Syracuse, NY
  • KBTC, Tacoma, WA
  • KOCE, Huntington Beach, CO
  • KBDI, Denver, CO

    The series debuted in the U.S. on approximately
    50 stations in 1988, three years after its debut on
    British television, where it’s an institution and
    among the highest rated shows in U.K. history.

    Meanwhile, in the U.S., EastEnders has never
    grown beyond its cult status, and scores of public TV
    stations have dropped it steadily due to its high
    cost, low ratings and poor financial support from
    viewers.

    Occasionally, the threat of cancellations have
    left the series’ continuation in doubt, such as what
    happened in 1996 when WNYC, the flagship station, was
    sold by then mayor Rudy Guiliani, and the BBC made
    overtures that it would not be able to continue
    satellite transmission if a replacement station in the
    New York area was not found.

    Thankfully, WLIW, picked up EastEnders and has
    stuck by it, although occasionally expressing
    disappointment that not enough viewers have
    financially supported the show.

    The Walford Gazette, which was founded 11 years
    ago to give the stations a premium-incentive tool in
    their fundraising efforts for EastEnders, urges that
    all fans who watch via public television to support
    their local stations with what they can give
    financially when they’re asked to contribute.

    A BBC source said that any further cancellations
    should be known next spring.




  • Walford Gazette: Murdoch Wants BBC to Divest EE

    Murdoch Wants BBC to Divest EE

    LONDON -—If media tycoon Rupert Murdoch has his way, the
    BBC should be forced to sell off its most popular
    programmes, such as EastEnders.

    The proposal, which was made recently by Tony
    Ball, the chief executive of Murdoch’s satelllite TV
    company BSkyB, is the first salvo in the debate over
    the BBC’s royal charter renewal in 2006. The charter
    sets the terms of the corporation’s budget and method
    of funding.

    Under the Murdoch, proposal, the BBC would also
    be banned from buying imports, including Hollywood
    blockbusters like Harry Potter.

    The plan was revealed at the Media Guardian
    Edinburgh international television festival. BSkyB has
    long accused the BBC of squeezing the commercial
    sector with a stream of populist programmes.

    Murdoch’s plan calls for the BBC to put up for
    auction at least six of its most popular programmes
    every year to commercial rivals such as ITV or Channel
    4. The proceeds would be ploughed back into the
    BBC’s budget to replace the lost shows.

    British households are required to pay £116
    (roughly US$174) licence fee, which annually generates
    for the BBC £2.5 billion (US$3.75 billion).

    The BBC responded to the proposal: “We are
    flattered that Tony Ball should be so preoccupied with
    the BBC but his comments have to be seen in the
    context of Rupert Murdoch’s long and hostile campaign
    against the BBC.
    Thankfully for the British public, Mr Murdoch has not
    been successful in this campaign.

    “This speech clearly reflects BSkyB’s view that
    programmes are merely a commodity to be bought and
    sold. The BBC—and probably the majority of British
    broadcasters and producers—believe programmes are
    about creativity, talent and broader cultural and
    social issues.”

    Besides BSkyB, Murdoch’s media holdings include
    the 20th Century Fox film studio, the Fox broadcast
    network, The Times and The Sun British daily
    newspapers, as well as the New York Post.




    Walford Gazette: John Altman on his EastEnders alter ego – Nasty Nick’ ‘99% Rotten COTTON’

    John Altman on his EastEnders alter ego

    Nasty Nick 99% Rotten COTTON

    By Larry Jaffee

    NEW YORK — “There were three,” rattles off John
    Altman, when asked how many people on EastEnders has
    his alter ego ‘Nasty Nick’ Cotton killed since
    February 1985 when the series debuted in the U.K.

    “Reg Cox, Eddie Royle, and accidentally my son
    Ashley [a teenager who hasn’t yet shown up on U.S.
    public TV screens]. And don’t forget I tried to poison
    [to death] my dear old Ma [the long-suffering Dot
    Cotton]. Not too bad, eh?”

    In person, Altman turns out to be nothing like
    Nick and looks great for his 51 years. He usually
    doesn’t reveal his age to the U.K. press, he confides.
    Nick’s tattoos, he smiles, were make-up, as were the
    needle marks during Nick’s heroin-shooting days.

    Altman visited New York in late June on a holiday
    to the States with his 16-year-old daughter Roseanna.
    Staying at the Long Island home of Paul Bennett, an
    expatriate friend he’s known since schooldays, Altman
    paid a visit to WLIW to tape a commercial spot to help
    them promote on-air the then impending EastEnders
    switch to Saturday nights. WLIW’s Matthew Digirolamo
    was good enough to tip off the Walford Gazette of
    Altman’s local presence and how he might be up for an
    interview.

    “I feel quite lucky to have played Nick Cotton
    for so many years,” says Altman. “Some actors never
    get anywhere. And every time I’ve been on EastEnders,
    they have quite meaty storylines for me. From an
    acting point of view, it’s been a good experience.
    It’s a bit of a cross to bear sometimes though—him
    being so nasty. When they’re casting, I tend to get
    overlooked for parts like the warm, loving
    father—which as you can see I am in real life.

    “It’s [playing Nick] a double-edged sword really
    because I’ve been labelled ‘Nick Cotton’ for the rest
    of my life. But it’s been great because I’ve been in
    and out [of EastEnders] the last couple of years. And
    in the theatre I have been able to play Billy Flynn in
    an U.K.-touring show of Chicago.”

    A BBC reviewer on a Norwich performance last
    November wrote: “Altman certainly looks the part, and
    his performance as the silver-tongued courtroom
    attorney draws on his recent TV experience as Dot
    Cotton’s smooth-talking son.”

    As far as coming back again as Nick, Altman
    says, “They’ve left it open.” They being the various
    creative teams that have run EastEnders over the past
    18 years. “I think they keep him like an ace card up
    their sleeve. When it gets a bit quiet, [time to bring
    back] Nick Cotton.”

    Indeed, Nick has probably returned to the Square
    more than any other character, not to mention that he
    was there from the very first episode in February
    1985. I tell him how EastEnders fans often vividly
    remember the show’s first-ever scene of Den Watts
    kicking in Reg Cox’s door; I remember better the last
    part of that episode with Den throwing Nick out of the
    Vic after getting into a fight with Ali. “And Nick’s
    fist comes through the window,” Altman adds, finishing
    my thought.

    Asked whether he thought that the EastEnders
    creative teams ever went too far with his evilness,
    such as poisoning Dot, Altman responds, “Not really. I
    try to find anything really nice about Nick.” He
    thinks a moment. “Well, he gave his leather jacket to
    his son Ashley. He did love his son, you know? And
    when his son dies, he was actually grief-stricken
    looking over at the coffin. I don’t know if you seen
    that episode yet?”

    I tell him no, and explain the time warp
    Americans who appreciate EastEnders find themselves in
    and how I didn’t yet get BBC America when that
    storyline hit.

    Even though Nick was responsible for Ashley’s
    death, explains Altman, “Nick’s warped mind still
    blames it on Mark Fowler. I don’t know what else Nick
    could do really, other than go out like James Cagney.
    Personally I wouldn’t want to see him as a nice guy. I
    don’t think the viewers would want to either. He’s 99
    percent rotten Cotton, yeah.”

    On the Nick Cotton scale, Altman comments that
    EastEnders’ Trevor was “a good bad guy.”

    Altman’s acting credits also include small parts
    in the Star Wars sequel The Empire Strikes Back and
    the 1979 film Quadrophenia, based on Pete Townshend’s
    1973 concept album by The Who.

    For Jedi, “I was only working on it for a couple
    of days. It’s easy to miss me, but I did work on it.
    Quadrophenia was [an acting] learning curve for me.
    That’s a cult movie in the U.K.”

    I point out, “Here too.”
    Another major role outside of EastEnders for
    Altman was playing George Harrison in a 1979 TV movie
    called Birth of the Beatles. A musician in real life,
    Altman felt at ease playing Harrison, whom he closely
    resembles physically.

    Asked whether he ever met Harrison, he regrets
    that he never did, but like fellow EastEnders alum
    Carol Harrison (who played Tiffany and Simon’s flashy
    mum, Walford Gazette, No. 36), Ringo Starr once
    recognised ‘Nick Cotton’ in public, remembers Altman.

    Of what’s on U.S. telly, Altman comments that “24
    is damn good television; there’s so much going on at
    the same time.”

    He mentions playing one of the leads in a play
    called Bouncers, a satire about nightclub life that’s
    booked for major U.K. cities through January.

    Bouncers, written by respected playwright John
    Godber, was first performed in 1977 at the Edinburgh
    Fringe Festival and recently enjoyed a successful run
    in the West End’s Whitehall Theatre.

    The production of the play also stars Terry
    Duckworth, an actor in EastEnders’ rival Coronation
    Street, in an obvious ploy by the producers to bring
    the punters to the theatre.

    The four leads in Bouncers play a total of 47
    parts—from lager louts to handbag-clutching girls,
    reminiscent of the acting trio who comprise the BBC’s
    bizarre series The League of Gentlemen (see page 11).

    Altman described his Bouncers characters to the
    British newspaper The Independent in a recent
    interview: “I switch constantly between three
    characters: Eric, Maureen and Baz. I was told it would
    stretch me! There is Lucky Eric, a bouncer, so-called
    because he always finds a fiver on the dance floor.
    Maureen, a bit busty, but not a bag, likes a drink and
    a bit of a laugh. And a young yob called Baz, fit for
    a fight Friday night—get down there, have a skinful,
    maybe a Chinese chicken-in-a- basket, and try to pull
    a bird. The music will change—different disco
    numbers—one minute I’m a woman, then suddenly I’m a
    man. It’s quite bizarre.”

    Following Bouncers, Altman tells the Walford
    Gazette, he’s set to appear in a in pantomime
    production of Peter Pan, which he also did last
    holiday season. “And after that, who knows?”

    With Dirty Den coming back, I mention that
    there’s probably an opportunity to bring back Nick yet
    one more time given the history (I mention the
    gripping prison scenes) and the fact that there’s no
    love lost between the two characters. “Yes, that was
    when he confessed to murdering Reg Cox, thinking that
    Dirty Den would be impressed. I haven’t heard anything
    [about coming back]. And I’m pretty booked doing
    plays.”




    Walford Gazette: The Public TV/BBC America Timewarp

    The Public TV/BBC America Timewarp

    By Esta Asteroff

    If it’s Wednesday, it must be EastEnders on PBS. No!

    If it’s Friday, it must be EastEnders on BBCA.
    No, no, no!!! If it’s Sunday, it must be the rerun of
    EastEnders on BBC America. No, no!! (Ed. note:
    pre-Aug. 4.)

    If it’s Monday (circa early 2001), it must be
    EastEnders: The Early Years on BBCA. No, no, no,
    no!!!!

    Like a lot of people, I’ve been fortunate enough
    not only to see EastEnders on PBS, but also to now see
    current U.K. episodes on BBCA. Little did I realize
    that there would be a downside to this: total
    confusion as to who is in, who is out, who is back,
    who is dead, and who is alive—to say nothing of whose
    child is whose, who shot whom, is that a new actress
    in that role, and just who is that bloke?

    When I moved from New York City to Florida, I
    quickly learned that neither of my PBS stations
    carried EastEnders. (Many of you would have packed up
    again and left!) But I did get current U.K. episodes
    every Sunday, with a repeat on Fridays.

    To fill in the three-year gap between where I
    left off watching in New York and where I am now on
    BBCA, I’m getting tapes from a trusty friend. In a few
    years, I’ll be about back to where I started. Sort of
    like that old song, “I’m my own grandpa.”

    Meanwhile, although I was never averse to
    spoilers, there was a lot I didn’t know. For example,
    since the storyline involving the Slaters was so
    complicated, I never paid attention to those spoilers.
    Similarly, the whole contretemps of
    Saskia/Steve/Mel/Lisa et al, was too daunting to read
    about without knowing any of the characters involved.

    At the same time, I was forced to wait for weeks
    to get caught up on the PBS episodes. My belongings
    with my VCR hadn’t arrived, so I couldn’t play any
    tapes. I became more behind to the point where I am
    now: totally, hopelessly mired in confusion.

    At long last, the VCR arrived and I popped in a
    tape with PBS episodes. What is happening? Well, Grant
    had begun his affair with his mother-in-law Louise;
    Tiff was on her massage course; Bianca learns she is
    pregnant again; Gianni learns George may be his real
    father; Mark and Ruth are having big problems; Melanie
    Healey and Lisa first appear. Terry and Irene have not
    yet tied the knot; Sonia is living with Bianca and
    Ricky; Peggy and Frank are an item.

    Oh, I’ve finally met Jamie Mitchell. And all this
    has happened in the few short months since I’ve been
    out of the PBS loop. Whew!

    But there is no sign of Samantha’s or Sharon’s
    return; there is no Jim (Carol’s father); there is no
    Laura, Nathan, Janine. Steve has not yet appeared
    (although I hear it’s soon).

    Cut to BBCA. While waiting for my VCR to arrive,
    I still had access to a TV and BBCA. So I tune in, and
    that’s when all hell broke loose.

    All of a sudden there is the malevolent Nathan,
    trying to break up Natalie and Barry. (By the way,
    when did Natalie return? And with a nose job!) The
    whole Steve/Melanie/Saskia storyline is over, and it’s
    not even begun on PBS, so I have no idea what went on
    there. Where is Michael Rose and family? I know
    Matthew Rose has a long sad storyline, but that hasn’t
    started on PBS either. So there are huge gaps in my
    knowledge. Stories and characters have come and
    already gone and I am in the dark.

    On top of that, I’m now immersed in the sad
    spectacle of the Slaters. Little Mo (a more
    appropriate name might be Little Mind) is in jail.
    I’ve met the awful Trevor, but I’ve yet to see the
    episodes where he abuses her and she attacks him.

    Suddenly Sharon and Samantha are back. The new
    Sam, and the new Janine, take some getting used to,
    but I was shocked to hear Sharon returned because the
    wonderful Angie died. I was not prepared for that.
    Mostly, though, I never can remember who is still
    in or out on either PBS or BBCA.

    Why is Lisa hot for Michael when she’s with Mark?
    Oh, that’s because it’s PBS not BBCA. And whose baby
    is it anyway?

    What happened to Sarah Hills? Robbie is back on
    BBCA, but still gone from PBS. Yikes. You really need
    a scorecard here.

    I knew I wasn’t alone in this great confusion, so
    I asked some other fans to share their experiences.
    I’d hoped to learn something about how to handle this,
    and also to help others. Here’s what they have to say:

    Jane Pond, of Philadelphia, reports: “It’s
    interesting to talk about the cognitive dissonance
    between the U.S. episodes and the BBC ones. I found it
    most discon-certing when, arriving in the U.K., I
    would watch the ‘Omnibus.’ Sometimes I would see part
    of a storyline in which I knew very few of the
    characters. I think that one I saw several years ago
    will be coming up soon, involving a new doctor to the
    Square.

    “In November 2000, I caught the
    Peggy/Frank/Pat/Roy episodes. I couldn’t believe my
    luck! I don’t usually read ahead, so don’t know what’s
    going on. Sometimes, when the episodes would show up
    on PBS, I would be reminded of my trips to London.
    Those are nice memories.

    “Here in Philly, I think every-one who is
    currently on (or has just left) from the current
    story-lines has showed up. Interesting that some are
    more glamorous later on than in the beginning.”

    Chimes in Tim Wilson of New York City: “Watching
    EE on both PBS and BBCA can be a fascinating
    experience because, unbeknownst to both, obviously,
    there can be a synchronicity between their EE
    broadcasts. An example which resonated most to me
    occurred back in September 2000. On BBCA in
    EastEnders: The Early Years (reruns of the show which
    harkened back to 1986, and discontinued last year),
    Ethel and Dot were seen in their famous, brilliant
    two-hander episode.”

    Reports Doris Evans, also of New York City:
    “Well, I have been watching BBCA since about Halloween
    time 2001 and I felt giddy for a time shifting back
    and forth.

    “ The WLIW episodes (with Tiffany’s attempting to
    leave Grant) are currently more interesting than the
    BBCA current episodes of the extremely
    dysfunctional family of the Slaters and the constant
    berating of Zoe and Anthony’s relationship; Mark’s
    trying to have a family and relationship with
    talkative Lisa who is a passive trouble maker; Ian’s
    descent into debauchery.

    I’m adjusting, so when WLIW is about to come on,
    I watch the last 20 minutes of the week before, which
    helps centre me to what’s coming, and I travel back in
    time and know everything. I just feel lucky to be an
    EE fan and enjoy every minute of it.”

    Reports Dana Gordon, also of New York City: “I
    tape both the PBS and the BBCA episodes (on the same
    tape) and then watch them when I have the time. I use
    the same tape over and over so not only do I end up
    with different time periods, I get storyline shifts
    from the same period back to back as well. If I’m not
    paying close attention, I can really get
    confused.

    “In any event, I certainly experience that
    disconnect you are talking about. I’ve often watched
    an episode not really knowing what time it’s from and
    being quite startled by a particular character showing
    up. Good thing it’s all on tape so I can rewind and
    follow the story again, this time with the “right”
    time on my EastEnders watch!

    “The most interesting disconnect moments
    are happening now. The WLIW New York PBS storylines
    are about three years behind BBCA, and the gap can be
    tricky to fill, especially where the same characters
    show up in both times.

    “I know that many viewers don’t like spoilers,
    but I’m not one of them. I’ve read Tiffany’s Diary
    (available for sale through the Walford Gazette) and
    Bianca’s Diary books as well as others which include
    current U.K.
    storylines. “The current PBS stories are just what I
    read about a couple of years ago in the diaries. I
    have found that it doesn’t matter what I read about a
    future storyline—when it actually happens, I’m
    riveted.

    “Of course, like many viewers, there’s that other
    source of the disconnect: I make up storylines in my
    head for my favourite characters, so there’s
    been a bit of surprise when something I think “should”
    happen happens sort of the way I imagine it. Either
    that proves the magic of EastEnders, or it proves that
    I am watching far too much television!”

    Finally, someone who wasn’t too confused, fellow
    New Yorker Donna Peet: “I was so thrilled to finally
    get BBC America, that I happily overlooked any
    confusion from watching storylines separated by more
    than three-and-one-half years—although it is slightly
    disconcerting when new characters pop up on the PBS
    series that have either been on BBCA for some time or
    already left. It throws me a little, and then I get
    used to it.

    “I just realized one thing that keeps me focused
    as to which EE era I’m watching: Peggy’s hairdos.
    There are two, but when I see the shorter one, I know
    we’re in the new millennium.”




    Walford Gazette: Joining The U.K. Soap Press for a Day

    Joining The U.K. Soap Press for a Day

    By Denise Field

    On our trip to England earlier this year, my husband,
    Paul Field, and I were invited to visit EastEnders’
    offices.

    We jumped at the chance, seeing it as perfect
    opportunity to give our Walford Gazette readers
    exciting news and happening of their favourite show,
    EastEnders.

    Upon our arrival, we were delighted with the surprise
    of being able to sit on a panel in which many
    reporters from leading U.K. soap magazines were
    allowed to interview several of the EastEnders cast in
    character form. This basically meant that questions
    asked were made directly to the character and not to
    the actor that portrays them.

    The first actor to appear was Dean Gaffney
    (Robbie), who strolled in wearing jeans and a Gap
    sweatshirt, appearing very comfortable before the
    press. He stated that this was his ninth year in the
    role of Robbie and that he is delighted to be part of
    the wonderful cast of EastEnders.

    When asked what was happening in Robbie’s life,
    Robbie went on to talk about a blooming romance with a
    young woman who has a young son. Dean went on to say
    that Robbie was always lonely, and so Willard (the
    dog) was created by executive producer John Yorke. He
    says he would like to see his character get a girl
    that would turn everyone’s heads and have them all say
    “wow”!

    Dean said his dream role on EastEnders would be a
    combination of Ian Beale’s ambition to be “a
    successful businessman running lots of businesses, the
    comedy of Nigel and entertaining like Barry.”

    Dean added that he would love to direct one day.

    He also made it clear to all that he is not
    “spotty,” as reported in many tabloids, and isn’t
    appreciative of the name they have give him of “Spotty
    Robbie.” He pointed to his face. “See I have a very
    clear complexion,” which this reporter can contest is
    true. He added that many things reported by the
    tabloids are just not true.

    The interview session also gave us a glimpse of
    some of the actors who play characters familiar to
    EastEnders fans who watch via BBC America but are
    still several years away from their introduction on
    U.S. public television.

    After Robbie left, Nick Bailey, who plays Dr.
    Anthony Trueman, strolled in. Dr. Trueman is 31; he’s
    smitten with 18-year-old Zoe Slater. He’s black and
    she’s white. He went on to say that his character
    feels torn with conflicting emotions. Even though Zoe
    is not highly educated, they share warm conversations
    with each other and he finds her refreshing. Another
    complication is that Anthony used to date Zoe’s oldest
    sister, Kat, who is not comfortable with the torch
    that Zoe has for the doctor.

    Anthony also has difficulty with his brother,
    Paul, who believes the man sharing their house and
    posing as their father is actually a fake.

    I promise you, there are great storylines for
    this family ahead.
    Nick added that on April 12 he would be running in a
    marathon for Cancer Research UK, and that he has been
    training three times a week to prepare for this
    15-mile run. He said that he has a personal interest
    in helping find a cure and the prevention of cancer,
    as he sadly lost an uncle to the disease.

    The next character to be interviewed was Natalie
    Cassidy, who plays Sonia, wearing casual pants, sweat
    jacket, a white shirt and a baseball cap. She quickly
    rushed in as she was running late. She apologized to
    all and sat down quickly to answer the questions
    bestowed upon her.

    The questions began along the line of how it
    feels to play opposite one of England’s teen idols,
    Jack Ryder, who plays Jamie. She tells us how people
    come up to her and can really be pretty mean
    concerning her role as Sonia. A lot of young girls are
    actually jealous of her. But she says she really
    enjoys working with him and that he is a really nice
    guy as well.

    Natalie went on to talk about the role in which
    now Sonia is playing now. She views Sonia as a
    mothering figure, always caring for everyone and not
    putting herself first.

    Cassidy said she loves the part of Sonia and
    enjoys being in the spotlight. She describes herself
    as “a greedy actress,” who welcomes being put on the
    set as much as possible. She finishes by adding she
    would love to see a wedding in the future for Sonia.

    After that delightful interview, we were
    refreshed with the presence of Michelle Ryan, who
    plays Zoe Slater. All dressed up in court attire, as
    the filming of her on-screen sister Maureen’s trial
    had begun taping.

    Michelle quietly sat down and asked what was
    expected of her from this interview. Once prepped, she
    let the questions flow. Right away, everyone wants to
    know what exactly is going on with her and the good
    doctor Anthony Trueman. She begins to say that with
    all Zoe has been put through, finding out her
    parentage and the lies that her family has told her
    all her life, Zoe now needs a stable person in her
    life—a knight in shining armour, so to speak. Anthony
    was always there for her, giving her the emotional
    support she couldn’t get at home. And now as an
    18-year-old young woman, Zoe finds herself dealing
    with many emotions. Zoe is on the road to discovering
    herself and yearns to make her own happiness.

    With her recent ordeal of returning home after
    her disappearance, she finds she has matured in many
    ways and is ready to take from life what she needs.
    Michelle said her character, when she wants something,
    usually goes with her feelings and what she wants now
    is Anthony.

    Even though there will be a lot of opposition and
    gossip from those in the Square, Zoe is determined not
    to let it get in her way. She has always seen Anthony
    as a good friend and now that she is 18, she sees
    nothing wrong with what can develop between them.
    Discussing the dance he took her to, she added that he
    is a really good dancer, and that she just loves
    working with Nick, who plays Dr. Trueman.

    She also told us how the actors who play the
    Slaters all work well together, and that she loves
    being a part of this on-screen family.

    One of the reporters then asked her, “Are you
    comfortable with kissing on the set?” To which she
    replied, “Yes, I have no problem with it.”

    On a lighter note, she amused us with a story of
    how the popularity of her character has slightly
    conflicted with her off-screen life. She told us that
    now she can’t enjoy the luxury of just going to a
    store without being recognized and how one day a girl
    just kept following her around a shop staring at her.
    She said it made her feel a bit uncomfortable. But she
    still enjoys the stardom and loves being in
    EastEnders.

    After Zoe left, we were given the pleasure of
    meeting and interviewing the well-known actress Tamzin
    Outhwaite, who plays Melanie. As it turned out, it was
    Tamzin’s last day of filming. When asked how she felt
    at this moment, she said she had mixed emotions. She
    was sad about leaving but also very excited about the
    new things she will be doing.

    Tamzin told us that she had been working on a
    six-part series for U.K. television and will be
    working on it from April to August.

    But immediately after finishing EastEnders, she
    will be taking a short holiday in Los Angeles—a trip
    for business and pleasure. She mentioned that her
    cousin was getting married there, and she was
    attending the wedding.

    We asked what she thought of Melanie. Tamzin
    began telling us that she was surprised that the
    audience actually took to her part. She saw her
    character as the girl-next-door type, who was a good
    mate, and a bit of a flirt. She felt her character
    came onto the show at a good time.

    When asked what episode was her favourite, with a
    chuckle she replied, “The time when Mel and Lisa drank
    tequila slammers and got drunk in the Vic.”

    She tells us that Lucy Benjamin, who plays Lisa,
    brought out the best in her. She spoke highly of the
    entire cast and informed us that she will truly miss
    this part of her life.

    She promised to keep in contact with the cast
    members, mentioning so many of their names and
    smiling. She added that she was delighted with the
    fact that the door will still be open for her to
    return to the show.

    She summed up by saying that working on
    EastEnders was the best two years of her life and the
    biggest learning experience. She also learned how to
    balance her private and professional lives during
    these years on the set.

    What does Tamzin have planned for her future? She
    would love to learn Italian, take up an instrument and
    perhaps do some singing and dancing.

    We were able to see how the press gets its
    information on the characters and their storylines. A
    production assistant named Leslie then let us watch
    some filming taking place that day.

    We quietly walked through the streets of the set,
    making sure we didn’t get in the way or make any noise
    that could disturb taping. Filming at this moment were
    Dr. Trueman and Jim, walking through the market.

    We also watched them filming a young girl
    chatting up Winston at his stall, while her friend
    helped herself to some CDs and then later went on to
    mug Sonia. We caught a glimpse of John Bardon (Jim)
    sitting smoking a cigarette behind the scenes. He
    seemed like such a gentle man, deep in thought, as he
    sat there waiting to be called upon once more.

    I remember taking it all in, remembering
    everything about the scene so I’d be able to pick it
    out when watching it on TV: “I was there, I saw this
    being filmed.”

    We continued walking through the deserted
    exterior sets, seeing many new places that will be on
    the Square, and then headed towards the internal sets.

    On the way, I saw Perry Fenwick, who plays the
    character Billy Mitchell, looking out of the window of
    one of the trailers. He noticed me and said hello.

    Before heading to the internal sets, we made a
    visit to Arthur’s allotment, took a picture and then
    just stood for a moment as if to give Arthur a moment

    of our silence.
    Inside, we had the chance to watch a scene
    between Beppe and Phil Mitchell’s lawyer.

    On another set, we came across the character Big
    Mo trying to wake up Gary, who happened to be sleeping
    on a couch. We watched them do several takes until
    they got it just right.

    We then continued on, just walking through the
    empty sets and props used for filming. We took a few
    pictures, and then our trip to the internal sets
    ended.

    Our guide took us to her office for some press
    photos and a plastic EastEnders bag to put them in. We
    couldn’t thank Leslie enough for the wonderful
    experience she had allowed us to have.

    Our adventure came to an end, but with us we took
    many new memories and a day on the set we will never
    forget.