Some of the biggest names in EastEnders have been told to take a pay cut or lose time on screen, according to the papers.

The Mirror reports that some cast members have reacted angrily to cost cutting measures by BBC bosses, which will see some of them losing up to 15 per cent of their regular salary.

Some of the soap’s major earners – including Barbara Windsor, who plays Peggy Mitchell, and Steve McFadden, who plays her onscreen son Phil Mitchell – stand to lose around £54,000 a year from their reported £360,000 pay packets.

And Pam St Clement – aka Pat Evans – and Adam Woodyatt, who stars as Ian Beale, are also reportedly set to lose out.

The stars receive their full salaries when they appear in all four of the week’s episodes – which means they will either have to accept less money when their current deals end, or appear in fewer shows.

“Everybody realises there is a recession on and everybody has to do their bit,” a show insider told the paper.

“But some of the stars feel like they are being bullied into taking a pay cut. The licence fee has stayed the same and the same money is coming in.”

“Yet the people who bring in the viewers are being told they have to take a cut. It is not fair and a lot of people are unhappy.

“Everyone who comes in can’t work on other shows so they can’t cut their hours and pick up work elsewhere.”

However a BBC source defended the decision, saying, “Most of the cast understand the reason behind the cuts and just appreciate having work in these difficult times when so many people are struggling financially.”

“The show, like other parts of the BBC, has been affected by the downturn, economies had to be made. Costs have been cut in other areas so we do not have to economise that far.”

A BBC spokeswoman added that the show would, along with other programmes, be reducing its budget over the next few years. “Talent salaries are not excluded when looking to make these savings,” she said.