BBC drama boss: “EastEnders does not reflect real life”

The soap may not mirror the East End but it does display "emotional truth"

The BBC’s controller of drama production, John Yorke, has admitted that EastEnders does not portray the real East End of London or its multicultural make-up.

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In an interview in the latest issue of Radio Times, Yorke told Gareth McLean “Soaps reach a point where they have a really big decision to make: do they stay true to the original vision or do they throw it away and adapt to a changing world?”

And while EastEnders certainly doesn’t reflect the increasingly gentrified East End of 2011, Yorke argues that it can still resonate with viewers.

“EastEnders’ East End and its version of working-class life are very stylised. It’s not realistic in that respect, but you look for an emotional truthfulness.”

Yorke also accepts that the soap is “significantly white compared with the real East End” but says things are improving, and that EastEnders is the best example of ethnic diversity British television currently offers.

“[EastEnders] is considerably more multicultural than it was even five years ago and is easily the most multicultural show on telly now,” he says. “We may have had nerves about that at one stage, but we’re very proud of it now and you have to keep going.”

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Find out what Coronation Street’s executive producer Kieran Roberts and its creator Tony Warren think about soaps and the modern world – and read an interview with outgoing Corrie star Katherine Kelly – in the latest issue of Radio Times, on sale now.