Brexit and climate change: Storylines that caused EastEnders viewers to switch off as soap’s future thrown into question

7 July 2023, 22:08 | Updated: 7 July 2023, 22:09

Sources allege the show could be in its 'final days'.
Sources say the show could be in its 'final days'. Picture: Alamy
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

The future of EastEnders has been thrown into question as the once iconic show’s views take a hit over accusations of 'desperate' and 'woke' storylines.

EastEnders once drew in up to 30 million viewers as one of the UK’s most watched soaps, among other classics such as Coronation Street and Emmerdale, but now the show’s future is in jeopardy as viewers have dwindled to around a million.

Audience members have allegedly grown frustrated by the show’s plot lines, arguing they’ve become too absurd in a desperate plea to regain viewers, including a recent plot which saw the return of a character from the dead.

Others have accused the show of going ‘woke’, as some MPs criticised the show’s political references.

Here are some of the storylines that have thrown the soap's future into question.

Brexit

The Prince Of Wales And The Duchess Of Cornwall Visit The Set Of EastEnders
The Prince Of Wales And The Duchess Of Cornwall Visit The Set Of EastEnders. Picture: Getty

In an episode aired in 2022, EastEnders favourite Sharon Watts likened the Covid pandemic to Brexit.

As she threw a drink in Sam Michell's dace, Sharon shouted: "We've had Brexit and Covid, we don't need you here."

After this scene aired, fans were quick to complain about the references.

One viewer said: "Outrageous politics BBC warping modern Britain... Just caught the tail end of Eastenders - never watch it but used to 30 years ago."

Climate change

In an episode aired in 2021, Bailey Baker - a schoolgirl - urged Walford residents to sign a climate-friendly petition to partake in meat-free Mondays.

She shouted: "Global mass-produced industrial meat is killing the planet is literally killing the planet. One meat-free day a week is one step to saving the world.

"You need to start local, and think global. Small changes make a big difference."

One frustrated viewers wrote: "They decided to bring Sean back and expect people to care about climate change lmaooooo #EastEnders."

Another said: "Nope, I found it bloody annoying. I don't want to be preached to about climate change, while watching Eastenders!"

Cindy Beale, played by Michelle Collins, recently returned to the cast.
Cindy Beale, played by Michelle Collins, recently returned to the cast. Picture: Alamy

Addressing the claims made agains the show, a spokesperson for EastEnders has said: “EastEnders episodes are made live to the audience at 6am every morning on BBC iPlayer giving the audience the choice to watch when and where they choose...

“So when episodes are moved to a different day, or channel, due to a live sporting  event it is no surprise that this is reflected in the regular overnight audience...

“Over the last two weeks EastEnders has been streamed almost 18 million times on BBC iPlayer and remains one of iPlayer's most popular programmes.”

The show is falling behind its competitors, Coronation Street and Emmerdale, according to new figures which show they attract around four million per episode.

Some of the soap’s most renowned characters have spoken about how they felt it was going downhill, including Danny Dyer who previously said of his character: “I didn’t quite know who I was playing anymore.”

He also made reference to his encounters with former fans of the show who had told him they stopped watching.

Despite the soap’s attempt to call back former fans, such as with the return of Cindy Beale, its efforts has failed to have the desired upturn.

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