Ah, Albert Square. The most self-sustaining square on planet earth; a place with enough supplies, job opportunities and booze for all its inhabitants to survive without ever leaving.
Well, that’s not entirely true – the residents do on rare occasion visit Walford East tube station, but that’s usually only if they’re:
a) running away
b) running out of money (there’s a cashpoint there)
c) running out of options (having exhausted every other destination within a 100m radius)
But, in general, the residents of Albert Square never step a foot outside its confines. And why should they? Why venture anywhere else when The Square, a perfect ecosystem within itself, has so much to offer?
Think of the career opportunities alone! You’ve got the bookies, the market AND the pub – Tracey the barmaid’s had a solid job at The Vic for over twenty years now and she seems happy enough, though it’s hard to tell given that she hasn’t spoken since 1985.
Job prospects aside, The Square has a whole range of delights on offer. From shopping provisions (the market) to fine dining (the Argee Bhajee) to top quality nightlife (the E20). Why yes, it’d be absurd to go elsewhere.
Alas, as idyllic as this cockney-tinted utopia may sound, there are times when the delicate balance between The Vic, The Mitchells and Arthur Fowler’s Bench is disturbed. Usually during every single episode.
Think about it – have you ever watched Eastenders without witnessing some form of misery / catastrophe / nefarious plotting? Exactly.
Whether it’s Kat staring out the window with a face like a trout, Heather forgetting to take her inhaler, or a revenge-hungry Dr Khan creeping around in a manner that wouldn’t go amiss in a Jacobean play, there’s always something afoot in Albert Square.
And yet, despite all the misery and troublesome events, The Square survives. With gust and valiant determination, it battles on. When there’s a murder, Dot puts the kettle on. When somebody’s depressed, Alfie Moon cheers them with his jovial [read irritating] charm. When there’s a fire, the community spirit burns even brighter. When there’s, err, another fire, Albert Square rises from the ashes like the glorious Eastend phoenix that it is!
But in all seriousness, The Square (aka the set) has been through an awful lot over the years. Awful being the operative word. Reg Cox, who was found murdered in the first ever episode, set the tone for the programme and since its inception in 1985 Eastenders has seen a total of 77 deaths – 18 of which have been murders, of course.
Even if you put aside the high mortality rate Albert Square is hardly a bundle of laughs. Torrid affairs, arson, gangsters, violence – the list goes on. Hardly surprising then that when you type the words “Eastenders Tragedy” into Google you’re greeted with over 180,000 search results…
Wonder why it’s the most complained about programme on TV, eh?
Still, gotta love it.