After a tense meeting between scriptwriters and chief executives, the BBC today conceded it still had ‘no workable plan’ for concluding Eastenders.
The programme was commissioned in 1985 as a twelve-episode crime drama focusing on the murder of Reg Cox. That was doubled after the first six episodes had been broadcast, when it became apparent that only 5% of the clumsily-introduced storylines could possibly be resolved in the remaining time frame.
New scriptwriters were brought in by corporation bigwigs once the programme had overrun by twelve months, but no progress was made in resolving 300 dangling storylines, unconnected plot points and purposeless interactions between characters.
‘We had uncontrollable mission creep,’ admitted director-general Mark Thompson. ‘This has been going on far too long and isn’t fun for anybody any more.’ A number of solutions are touted, including a parallel existence in which Reg Cox did not die after all, the discovery that it had all been one of Wellard the dog’s dreams, or moving the whole thing to BBC4 and then shutting down that channel.
Thompson did highlight a number of successes during his tenure. “We finally killed off miserable old Pauline Fowler – that was a good one,’ he reminisced, fondly. ‘Everyone got a pay rise that year.’