Why is EastEnders set in Walford E20?

Here's how the fictional London Borough and postcode became a household name in the UK...

Albert Square - Walford sign

EastEnders is one of the best-loved and most watched programmes in Britain – a soap opera that takes us into the lives of the people of Walford, a fictional London Borough to the east of the capital.

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Why is it called Walford?

The name of the area was devised by the show’s creators, Tony Holland and Julia Smith who first brought the long-running BBC1 soap to our screens in 1985. Holland, who had strong family connections with Walthamstow in East London was keen that his EastEnders creation sounded similar to that area, and the pair settled upon Walford as a hybrid in homage to “Wal”thamstow and as a nod to the large number of areas on the Essex London borders that ended in the suffix “ford” such as Ilford and Romford.

Why is Walford’s postcode E20?

Many of the real east London boroughs and places have an E postcode followed by a higher number according to their place in the alphabet. For example E17 is Walthamstow and E18 is Woodford. When the show was created, E18 was as high as the E London postcodes went. The creators felt that E19 felt clumsy and therefore opted for the then fictional E20 postcode that has become synonymous with Walford and the soap.

However, in 2011 Royal Mail announced that the fictional E20 postcode would become a reality, covering the rapidly growing area of Stratford in east London around the Olympic Park. The Olympic Stadium which played host to many of the most significant events of the London 2012 games received the postcode E20 2ST.

Is there any reason why the streets are named what they are in Walford?

The fictional Albert Square which sits at the heart of the Walford community is meant to have been built during the Victorian era, and is named after Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert. The pub on the square is called The Queen Victoria or “Queen Vic” in recognition of the this.

Bridge Street is so named because it connects Albert Square to the Market and Daisy lane is named after series designer Steven Keogh’s daughter.

Programme researchers were also aware that the East End of London was once a notorious haunt for highwaymen, hence the inspiration for Turpin Road in Walford.

Has Walford got an MP?

Conservative MP Oliver Dowden used his maiden speech to Parliament in 2015 to lay claim to the people of Walford. He claimed that because EastEnders was filmed on a set in Elstree in Hertfordshire which fell into his Hertsmere constituency that he was the rightful Member of Parliament for Walford.

“That allows me to make a legitimate claim to be the member of Parliament for Albert Square,” he told his fellow members.

In fact, Walford would probably be a Labour constituency as most neighbouring east London constituencies are safe Labour seats.

Can I visit the set of EastEnders?

Sadly, because of the very heavy filming schedule on EastEnders at Elstree Studios, there are no set tours open to the public.

Some BBC sites do offer tours, and you can find out more about them here.

Can I get a signed photo of my favourite actor then?

Yes you can! You need to write a letter to the individual actor that you’d like a photo of and the BBC will pass them on. You can even send multiple requests in one envelope to save on postage. You might have to wait a while if it’s a busy time for the actors, but hopefully you’ll get a signed photo back soon enough.

What’s even better is that there’s no charge for signed photos. That’s right, they’re free!

Send your letters to:

BBC Elstree Centre
Clarendon Road
Herts
WD6 1JF

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You can get all the latest EastEnders news and views on our RadioTimes.com EastEnders hub