Getting in a lather

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Indy Lifestyle Online
"I'm proud of EastEnders. I would be happy to see it compared with any drama that's been produced in this country in the past 20 years. Soaps like EastEnders and Coronation Street are popular because they touch people, they strike a chord, viewers can identify with the characters. When I was growing up there was the Wednesday Play and Armchair Theatre which was comprised of single 30-minute dramas. That's what EastEnders is, it's just a long version of a one-off play. When I sit down to write an episode, I want to create the best 30 minutes' entertainment I can. Saying soaps are bad is a huge generalisation. Soaps are dramas, and there are good dramas and bad dramas. People only say they're bad because they've decided to lump all soaps together, which is just narrow-minded, self opinionated bollocks.

You can get messages across with soaps in a way that you can't through any other medium. The storyline of Mark contracting HIV. We did that 10 years ago when there was an awful amount of prejudice. Normally, if you were doing a 60-minute drama about HIV you'd have to introduce the character, get people to care about them, see them contract the virus, go through the illness and end with their death, all within an hour. But the beauty of EastEnders is that you can actually see somebody in reality over a period of eight or nine years and see the disease as it really is.

I base nearly all my storylines on my family. I have a wife and six kids and we all shout at each other all the time. Most of the domestic arguments I've written have been exact replicas of the arguments I've had with my wife. She'll be watching television and say, `Oy, I said that!' I love soaps because if you've done a really good episode people will be talking about it the next day. You're in the queue at Tesco's and everyone's discussing your work."

Tony Jordan is the main writer on `EastEnders' and the creator of police drama series `City Central'