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EastEnders and the Manufacture of Celebrity


Anthony McNicholas

Communication and Media Research Institute, University of Westminster
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When EastEnders launched in February 1985 it represented a new approach by the BBC to programme making in many ways. One of these was publicity. Traditionally, the BBC put little effort into programme promotion but for EastEnders a much more professional approach was adopted and more resources employed. In part the publicity was based on the real life histories of the actors involved, many of whom had been cast because they had similar backgrounds to the characters they played. However, the full-blooded entry of the BBC, the UK’s largest cultural producer into the business of publicity was to have unforeseen consequences, as the tabloid press, following a logic of its own created the kind of feeding frenzy around the actors’ private lives with which we are so familiar today. The launch of EastEnders, it is argued, represents therefore a significant moment in recent British cultural history as the private lives of relatively minor characters, as much as their on screen personas became public property.

How to Cite: McNicholas, A., 2005. EastEnders and the Manufacture of Celebrity. Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture, 2(2), pp.22–36. DOI:
Published on 01 Nov 2005.
Peer Reviewed


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