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'EastEnders' Walford not realistic, says BBC boss

By
John Yorke

© BBC

BBC drama boss John Yorke has spoken candidly about EastEnders' portrayal of working class life in the East End of London, admitting that the drama does not fully reflect real life but has an "emotional truthfulness".

Speaking to Radio Times about the future of soaps, the Controller of BBC Drama Production conceded that the real East End has changed significantly since EastEnders was launched in 1985. However, he insisted that the Walford show should not stray too far from its roots.

"Real life changes much more quickly than representations of it on television," Yorke commented. "Soaps reach a point where they have a really big decision to make - do they stay true to the original vision, or do they throw it away and adapt to a changing world?

"My own feeling is that the truth lies somewhere in between. EastEnders' East End and its version of working class life are very stylised. It's not realistic in that respect, but you look for an emotional truthfulness."

He continued: "If it was a show where every house cost a fortune and everyone drove a Lexus, it wouldn't be EastEnders. You have to show shades of that change, but certain things are immutable, I would argue, like The Vic and the market."

Discussing multiculturalism on EastEnders, Yorke noted that the show "may be significantly white compared with the real East End".

However, he added: "It's considerably more multicultural than it was even five years ago and is easily the most multicultural show on telly. We may have had nerves about that at one stage, but we're very proud of it now and you have to keep going."

Coronation Street's executive producer Kieran Roberts was also interviewed by the magazine and addressed multiculturalism in Weatherfield.

Roberts said: "The ethnic mix is something we're always conscious of. Statistically, we're probably getting it about right but I don't think that's the way you should judge things. It's about how things feel. I'd be very worried if viewers - especially viewers from ethnic minorities - were saying they didn't think the show represented them fully."

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