Ever since'Dirty'Den Watts battered down a door in the opening seconds of the FIRST episode in 1985, EastEnders has been renowned as the grittiest of the British soaps. The BAFTA award-winning soap centres on the residents of Albert Square in the fictional east London borough of Walford. Whether they're throwing down pints in the Queen Vic or slagging each other off at the market stalls, EastEnders has always entertained audiences with memorable characters and dramatic storylines. Loveable rogues like Alfie Moon, the eternal loser Arthur Fowler, bad boys Grant and Phil Mitchell, psychopathic murderer Steve Owen, and gutsy matriarchs Peggy Mitchell, Pat Butcher and Mo Harris have become cultural icons. Such is the power of the show that actors like Ross Kemp, Letitia Dean, Martine McCutcheon have gone onto become household names. EastEnders is unflinching when it tackles tough issues, whether Sonya Jackson's adoption, rape (Kathy Beale), drug abuse (Nick Cotton) or mental illness (Arthur's breakdown). It was the first soap to feature gay characters in 1986 and the death of AIDS victim Mark Fowler broke new ground for soap storylines. These days you're more likely to see Roxy and Ronnie Mitchell bickering behind the bar or'tart with a heart'Stacey Slater causing trouble in the square, alongside old favourites Dot Branning (nee Cotton) and Ian Beale. Although the families may change, EastEnders continues to push the boundaries and deliver some of the most vivid, original and grimly realistic stories on TV.

Coming up

Can Lauren stop Peter leaving?
Friday 8:00pm
Linda faces a horrifying ordeal
Monday 8:00pm
Is Ronnie losing the baby?
Tuesday 7:30pm
Linda goes missing
Thursday 7:30pm

Story so far

Shirley plans her next move
Tuesday 7:30pm
Will Sharon marry Phil?
Monday 8:00pm
Sharon reaches out to Ben
Thursday 7:30pm
What does Ben want from Phil?
Tuesday 7:30pm

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What's on TV Quiz

Are you a TV addict? Play our new weekly quiz - 10 questions that will test your knowledge of last week's TV...

In EastEnders, Phil's son Ben returned to Albert Square and was punched by who?

What's on TV Poll

Who murdered Lucy Beale in EastEnders?

Billy Mitchell
4% (187 votes)
Cindy Williams
8% (388 votes)
Jake Stone
12% (538 votes)
Lauren Branning
7% (315 votes)
Lee Carter
7% (301 votes)
Max Branning
13% (578 votes)
Peter Beale
8% (385 votes)
Whitney Dean
9% (407 votes)
A N Other
32% (1470 votes)
Total votes: 4569