As of February 2010 only one original cast member remains in the series: Adam Woodyatt has played Ian Beale continuously since 1985. The second longest serving was Wendy Richard who played Pauline Fowler for nearly 22 years between 1985 and 2006.
The fictional place Walford was derived from two real-life place: "Wal" as in Walthamstow and "Ford" as in Stratford
In 1993, the show's theme tune was updated to a Jazzy version, first heard on 11 May 1993. However, it proved very unpopular with the viewers and was replaced with a remix of the original theme tune only 11 months later, from 11 April 1994.
Albert Square was reputedly based on the architecture in Fasset Square in Hackney, London E8 (just off Graham Road).
Originally there was a storyline written that the whole Ferreira clan killed their pushy father Dan, but actor Dalip Tahil could not get a visa for working in the UK, so the storyline was scrapped and instead Ronny Ferreira got stabbed.
In August 2006, the show went through a bad patch averaging only 3.9 million viewers per episode.
Den, Angie and Sharon were originally going to be called Jack, Pearl and Tracy.
In May 2007 a storyline involving the kidnapping of the newborn baby of Dawn Swann (Kara Tointon) was scrapped because of similarities to the much-publicised abduction of 4-year-old Madeleine McCann in the Algarve, Portugal on 3 May 2007.
The character of Stacey Slater was created especially for Lacey Turner after she auditioned to play Demi Miller.
Anita Dobson who played Angie Watts, did a recording of the Eastenders theme tune with lyrics called "Anyone Can Fall in Love". It reached #4 in the UK singles chart in 1986. The Lyrics was written by Don Black and it was produced by Queen guitarist Brian May. It was released by BBC Records. The B-side of the 7" single contained the original theme tune to the series.
Leslie Grantham was only signed to do twelve episodes at the beginning of the series. According to Grantham himself, BBC executives Michael Grade and Jonathan Powell saw the first episode and were so impressed with his character that they recommended he should be brought to the forefront of the series.
To celebrate the soap's 25th anniversary, the Friday 19th February 2010 edition was performed and broadcast live on BBC1; it revealed which of the regular characters had killed Archie Mitchell during Walford's New Year festivities.
Barbara Windsor was fourth choice for Peggy Mitchell. The first choice was booked but never filmed any material. The second choice taped eight episodes that were never broadcast.
During the affair storyline between Stacey Slater and Max Branning, Jo Joyner (who plays Max's wife Tanya) did not read any parts of the EastEnders scripts other than her own, as she felt her acting was improved by not knowing what Max did behind Tanya's back, and because she felt that she could better justify to herself why Tanya would not suspect Max of cheating if she in reality did not know what he was getting up to.
Jill Gascoine was originally cast in the role of Glenda Mitchell, but withdrew from her filming commitments during her first day on set, as she felt that she "lacked the right experience to film such a big continuing drama". The part was subsequently recast to Glynis Barber.
'Maggie ONeill was removed from the show only months into her contract due to reported extensive conflict with costars namely Samantha Womack who plays Ronnie Mitchell and Robert Kazinsky who played Sean Slater. Some of the stories meant to be including her character, Suzy Branning, had to be re-written such as the storyline in which Ronnie Mitchell finally finds out that her daughter Danielle Jones is still alive only to be killed by a car accident in which Suzy was originally meant to be driving the car until it was later changed to Janine Butcher being the driver.
Michelle Collins, who portrayed Cindy Beale, previously auditioned for the role of Mary Smith.
According to former EastEnders writer, David Yallop, it had been agreed in September 1989, that Steven Beale would be killed off in the serial. This was part of producer Mike Gibbon's plan to increase the ratings by culling a large number of the soap's long-running cast. Yallop said, "We had to reach a decision with the illegitimate child who was in the process of being born as a result of an earlier storyline. We wanted to know what to do with it. Either the child would be allowed to live or it would die. They decided to make the child 'seriously ill', but the reprieve was temporary. In episode 606 I resolved the problem." He claimed that on his draft of the storyline he wrote the words "Baby die". The plot never came to fruition, as Gibbon was abruptly replaced as the soap's boss and Yallop's plots were scrapped.
Pete Beale was initially scheduled to be a short-term character. It had been decided way in advance that the big New Year cliffhanger of 1986 would be the killing-off of a character and the chosen person had to have the greatest effect on the remaining characters. Pete Beale was the obvious choice as his death would leave Kathy a widow and Ian (his son) would have to take over as head of the house. Lou was his mother, Pauline his sister and Den Watts his best-friend, and everyone knew him from the fruit and veg stall, so story lines were planned in which Pete would have a heart-attack; a shock tactic to revive interest in the show after the excitement of Christmas. At the last minute, Julia Smith got 'cold feet' and decided that Pete was too useful a character to lose so early in the programme's history.
Janet Dibley turned down the BBC's £130,000 pay offer after discovering they were planning to turn her character, Lorna Cartwright, into a prostitute who was to be gang raped. It would have been the first time the soap had shown such an attack, but Dibley feared the "harrowing scenes" would lead to her 6 year old son being taunted. Dibley allegedly heard about Lorna's intended storyline from rumours on set, and approached co-executive producer, Mike Hudson, to talk it through. After several meetings, Dibley told Hudson she was unsatisfied with the storyline and refused to sign a new contract. The producers were reportedly upset over her decision, "because they saw Janet becoming one of the most important stars of the show". The scripts were subsequently re-written and Lorna made her final appearance in April 1998.
Walford East is a fictional tube station for Walford, and with the aid of a map that was first seen on air in 1996, it has been established that Walford East is located between Bow Road and West Ham, which realistically would replace Bromley-by-Bow on the District and Hammersmith & City lines.
In reality, at least two Albert Squares do exist in the East End of London, one in Stratford and the other in Ratcliff, E1. However, the show's producers actually based the Square's design on the real life Fassett Square in Dalston.
During the 'Who Shot Phil?' storyline, bookmakers William Hill said that around 50,000 bets were made on who was the culprit. Approximately 22 million viewers watched EastEnders on 5th April 2001, to find out that Lisa Shaw, Phil's ex-girlfriend, was the culprit. The episode caused the third-largest power surge on record (beaten only by the 1990 FIFA World Cup finals and 1984 climax of The Thorn Birds) and the kick-off of the Liverpool and Barcelona UEFA Cup semi-final was postponed for 15 minutes to avoid a clash with the scheduled episode.
The child abuse storyline with Kat Slater and her uncle Harry saw calls to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) go up by 60%. The chief executive of the NSPCC praised the storyline for covering the subject in a direct and sensitive way, coming to the conclusion that people were more likely to report any issues relating to child protection because of it.
In January 2008, Dot Cotton became the first soap opera character to be featured in a monologue episode, known as a "single-hander". Written by Tony Jordan, the episode features Dot recording a message for her husband, Jim, who is in hospital recovering from a stroke. June Brown was nominated in the Best Actress category at the 2009 British Academy Television Awards for her performance in the episode, becoming the first soap actress nominated in the category since 1988, when Jean Alexander was shortlisted for her role as Hilda Ogden in Coronation Street (UK).
Pam St. Clement owns over 125 pairs of earrings to use for her character Pat Evans, and the BBC wardrobe department are happy for fans to send them in for her to wear on screen.
Most of Dot Cotton's clothes come from charity shops and she always wears the same dress every Christmas Day. It is the oldest item in the wardrobe department and it is almost as old as the soap.
Peggy Mitchell has the most expensive wardrobe to date and Barbara Windsor still has a big say in what her character wears each day. Peggy's huge hat collection is also one of the most treasured items on set.