How long has ‘EastEnders’ been running?
EastEnders started on Tuesday February 19, 1985 on BBC1. It is set in Albert Square in the fictional Walford district of East London, based on the real-life areas of Hackney and Dalston, and follows the daily lives of the residents.
Created by Londoners Julia Smith and Tony Holland, his gritty and dramatic side of working-class community life was designed to compete with his ITV rival. Coronation Street and he quickly became known for tackling controversial topics that had never been explored in other soap operas.
EastEnders was an instant hit and became a television institution, initially aired twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays until a third edition was added on Monday in April 1994, followed by a fourth episode on a Friday in August 2001.
The 1986 Christmas Day episode in which ‘Dirty’ Den Watts handed over divorce papers from wife Angie Watts remains one of the most watched television shows in UK history and started a tradition for all Soap operas save the biggest twists in history for the all-important holiday period.
More than 35 years and more than 6000 episodes, EastEnders has featured some of the soap opera’s most iconic characters and launched many successful acting careers, but which stars have been associated with the soap opera the longest?
Who are the longest-serving actors in ‘EastEnders’?
Are here EastEnders‘Top 10 Longest Served Cast Members. We have chosen actors who are regular in the current cast since their first appearance. Some actors have had breaks from the show over the years, but if they’re permanent items on screen now, they still count as long servers even if it’s not continuous service!
Games: Ian Beale
First appearance: February 19, 1985
On EastEndersIn the first episode, entrepreneur Ian was a fresh-faced teenager who dreamed of becoming a successful chef. He is one of Walford’s most enduring faces to have survived a shooting, bankruptcy, beatings, homelessness, and six marriages to five different women, making him the most married character on the soap opera! Woodyatt appeared continuously from day one until he took an extended hiatus beginning in January 2021, but is expected to return in 2022.
Works: Sharon Watts
First appearance: February 19, 1985
The pouting princess of Dirty Den went from being a teenager in episode one to the eventual mistress of the childhood home, Queen Vic. Along the way, she has endured stormy romances with brothers Grant Mitchell and Phil Mitchell in the classic. story of ‘Sharongate’, the tragic loss of true love Dennis Rickman and his son Denny, numerous doomed relationships and an addiction to painkillers. Dean has spent several stints away from the show, but has been a regular since returning for the third time in 2012.
Plays: Kathy Beale
First appearance: February 19, 1985
Introduced as a mother to Ian and the wife of the salesman Pete in the first episode, Kathy left Walford for South Africa in 1998 and died off-screen in a car accident in 2006, or so we think. On the 2015 30th anniversary live episode, Taylforth made a spectacular comeback by revealing that Kathy had faked her death. She was soon back in Square, where she belongs, and now has her hands full watching over grandchildren Peter and Bobby while Ian is away.
Works: Phil Mitchell
First appearance: February 20, 1990
It’s hard to believe that tough guy Phil was the “kindest” brother Mitchell when he and his bully brother Grant arrived, as he’s one of the most notorious villains on TV, feared by the locals of Walford. Phil has battled an alcohol addiction, taken a few bullets and countless beatings, survived fires, struggled to be a decent father, made countless unreliable deals, and had turbulent romances with some of Walford’s most demanding women. including Sharon, Kathy, Shirley, and now Kat.
Works: Sonia Fowler
First appearance: December 2, 1993
Cassidy was just 10 years old when she began playing Sonia, the second youngest of the chaotic Jackson clan. Much loved for her ability to play the trumpet as a child, Son’s most famous story saw her become a mother at age 15 without realizing she was pregnant. These days, she is one of the more level-headed residents of the plaza. Cassidy left in 2007 and made a few cameos until she rejoined as a regular in 2014.
Works: Billy Mitchell
First Appearance: November 2, 1998
Phil’s cousin Billy was a nasty job when he was introduced as an abusive uncle and guardian to the orphan Jamie. As we learned more about Billy’s troubled childhood, he became more understanding, and fans took him to their hearts. Gormless Bill is treated like the black sheep of the Mitchell family, but he is a much loved member of the community and a proud father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, even if he has the worst luck in the world!
Works: Janine Butcher
First Appearance: June 28, 1999
Brooks was the third actress to play Frank Butcher’s rebellious daughter, after Rebecca Michael (1989-1993) and Alexia Demetriou (1993-1996). Janine, one of the most scandalous bad girls in the soap opera, has murdered two husbands, tried to poison another and died within minutes of marrying her. Walford’s black widow made a spectacular comeback in September 2021 after leaving in 2014, 22 years since Brooks took on the role.
Plays: Kat Slater
First appearance: September 18, 2000
Leopard print lover Kat is a real EastEnders icon, best known for the hint of surprise that little sister Zoe was actually his daughter, revealed in the much-quoted “You are not my muvvah … Yes I am!” scene from 2001. The tough but vulnerable Kat has calmed down since she burst onto our screens more than two decades ago, and is now in love with Phil Mitchell after years of intermittent romance with her ex-husband Alfie Moon. Wallace has stepped down from the role twice before and began a third season on the show in 2018.
Plays: Patrick Trueman
First appearance: September 13, 2001
Acting legend Walker celebrated 20 years as rum-loving patriarch Patrick in September 2021, who originally traveled from Trinidad wearing his famous hat to the funeral of his ex-wife Audrey to reconnect with their estranged children, and never left. Patrick is a father figure to Denise Fox and Kim Fox, although they are not biologically related, and is still something of a womanizer even in his 80s, returning from a long trip to Trinidad a few years ago, newly married to a younger man. Sheree woman!
Plays: Stacey Slater
First appearance: November 1, 2004
Kat’s cousin Stacey moved in with the rest of the Slaters troublemakers when she was a teenager and became one of EastEnders‘most popular characters. Strong and sassy, Stace has battled mental health issues, been incarcerated for murdering rapist Archie Mitchell, had an abortion, a scandalous affair with her ex-father-in-law, and countless cat fights. The role was created especially for Turner when he auditioned to play Ruby Allen, and he has won more awards than any other UK soap opera actor for his acclaimed performance. Stace was absent from 2010 for three years, but was reinstated as a regular starting in 2014, although Turner has had two periods of maternity leave since then.
EastEnders airs on Mondays at 8.05pm, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7.35pm and Fridays at 8.30pm on BBC One. television guide for full listings. You can also catch up on episodes on BBC iPlayer now.