EastEnders boss admits soap isn’t realistic

EastEnders isn’t a realistic portrayal of working class life or the real East End admits the BBC soap’s boss but Coronation Street executive producer Kieran Roberts believes the Granada soap is reflective of real life.

It’s a criticism often aimed at soaps especially these days given their penance of increasingly over the top, sensationalised storylines – soaps are not realistic. Critics are often quick to ask “just how many murderers can life in one Square/Street/Village?”. The answer is usually a lot if Emmerdale, Coronation Street and EastEnders are anything to go by. However, one soap boss has admitted his soap isn’t realistic and doesn’t portray working class life as it is now – EastEnders’ John York.

The former producer of the soap is now the BBC’s boss of drama production and in a new interview with the Radio Times admitted Walford isn’t really like the East End at all. However, he did point out that the soap had made good progress in the last few years to make it more multicultural – something which the real East End today of course is. The introduction of the Fox and Masood families, both well liked by viewers, are two things in the soap’s favour in terms of multi-culturalism.

“It’s not realistic in that respect but you look for an emotional truthfulness…..Real life changes much more quickly than representations of it on television,….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?” – John Yorke in the Radio Times

However, while Yorke is quick to admit EastEnders isn’t as realistic as it could be Coronation Street’s executive producer Kieran Roberts doesn’t believe the same can be said of the Granada soap. Even though the saga has recently been criticised by some for its gay storylines and having potentially three gay couples, seven gay characters, within one street. Roberts told the Radio Times that Corrie presented “a warm and cosy version of the world”.

Some might argue having at least two serial killers living on the street within a decade of each other might not really be that “warm” or “cosy”. Throw in a tram crash, Tracey Barlow’s various devious and murderous antics and plots about people faking their deaths and “warm” and cosy” don’t quite seem the right words. In fact “Dynasty-esque” would, perhaps, be more on the mark.

Roberts also told the Radio Times he felt Corrie was “about right” with its mix of ethnic characters and would be “worried if viewers – especially viewers from ethnic minorities – were saying they didn’t think the show represented them fully.”