EastEnders’ executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins tells Radio Times he has no plans to introduce characters who are defined by ethnicity, sexuality or race – insisting that to do so would leave viewers with a “blancmange”.
“As soon as someone starts imposing editorial decisions, we fight back, because we know what we’re doing. The day I start box-ticking is the day I leave,” says Treadwell-Collins when asked whether he’d introduce a quota approach to casting on the BBC1 soap, which celebrates its 30th anniversary later this month.
In a wide-ranging interview in this week’s magazine, he also reveals the real-life inspiration for the Carter family – led by Danny Dyer and Kellie Bright – who took over at the Queen Vic during Christmas 2013.
“The Carters are my family,” says Treadwell-Collins. “My father was an Irish immigrant named Michael Collins, my mother a hairdresser from Kilburn, named Linda. So Mick and Linda Carter. Stan Carter is my grandfather, a former Billingsgate fish porter who was a big powerful man and now sits in his chair still trying to rule his family. There is the difficult brother. I was the other son, like Johnny Carter. The story of him coming out to his mum was my story too.”
And it seems that even the soap’s more emotive plotlines hold a deeper resonance for the man calling the shots. “I started crying during the meeting where we discussed the episode where Mick Carter has a fear of water. My father drowned when I was 15, because he had never learnt to swim. So, on television, in that storyline it was kind of magical for me. I taught my dad to swim.”
You can read the full interview with Dominic Treadwell-Collins in the new issue of Radio Times (out Tuesday 3rd February), which also features the predictions of cast members on who killed Lucy Beale, plus the story of Jean Fennell – the original Angie Watts