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EastEnders is a British soap opera created by Julia Smith and Tony Holland which has been broadcast on BBC One since 1985. Set in Albert Square in the East End of London in the fictional Borough of Walford, the programme follows the stories of local residents and their families as they go about their daily lives. Initially there were two 30-minute episodes per week but since 2001 episodes have been broadcast every weekday apart from Wednesdays.

Within eight months of the show's launch, it reached the number-one spot in BARB's TV ratings and has consistently remained among the top-rated TV programmes in Britain. In 2013, the average audience share for an episode was around 30 per cent. Today, EastEnders remains a significant programme in terms of the BBC's success and audience share, and also in the history of British television drama, tackling many dilemmas that are considered to be controversial and taboo issues in British culture and social life previously unseen on United Kingdom mainstream television.

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Wellard is a fictional Belgian Tervuren dog who first appeared in the series on 18 October 1994, and became EastEnders' longest-serving pet, before being killed off on 15 August 2008. Although the character is male, he has been played primarily by three female dogs: Zenna, her daughter Chancer, and her granddaughter Kyte. A fourth dog briefly served as a replacement for Zenna in 1996, when she was given time off from the show to have a litter of puppies. Wellard was briefly written out of the series under executive producer Matthew Robinson, but returned when Robinson was succeeded by John Yorke. Wellard's owners for the majority of his duration in the soap were Robbie Jackson and Gus Smith. He was voted "Best Pet" at the 2008 Digital Spy Soap Awards, and named the UK's favourite soap opera pet in a 2009 Inside Soap poll. Wellard was a fan favourite, and although a storyline that saw him threatened with euthanasia for biting local café owner Ian Beale was poorly received by critics, his death drew generally favourable reviews. (read more...)

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"Pretty Baby...." is an episode of EastEnders that was broadcast on BBC One on 31 January 2008. It is the only EastEnders episode to feature just one character and the first of its kind in soap. It was written by Tony Jordan, directed by Clive Arnold and produced by Diederick Santer. The episode features Dot Branning, played by June Brown, recording a message for her husband Jim Branning (John Bardon), who is in hospital recovering from a stroke, reflecting Bardon's real-life stroke, which saw him written out of the show and allowed the opportunity for the single-hander to arise. Jordan's scripting was inspired by Samuel Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape. The episode was watched by 8.86 million viewers and received mixed reviews from critics. Brown received a British Academy Television Award nomination for Best Actress in 2009 for her performance in the episode. (read more...)


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