Shane Richie

Minor British institutions: Pontin's holiday camps

It is a surprise to learn that in a world where the budget airlines have made nice bits of Europe accessible for £1 and a package holiday to south-east Asia can be enjoyed for a few hundred quid, that the Pontin's holiday camp is still an option.

The meaning of EastEnders

It may be the most downbeat soap on television but EastEnders has lasted a quarter of a century on our screens. To understand its longevity, one must consider it in the context of Classical tragedy, writes long-time viewer Michael Bywater

Gadget of the week - Kymera magic wand, £49.95

Abracadabra! Turn this episode of EastEnders into a rerun of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Simply wave the Kymera wand and watch in awe as the television changes channel as if by magic. Tricked out to look like something you might find in the common room at Hogwarts, this sorceror's stick is in fact a buttonless remote control that can be programmed to learn up to 13 infrared codes and is activated by a variety of wrist flicks. Available to pre-order now, it goes on sale tomorrow from the simply wizard website

Wendy Richard: Actress who played Pauline Fowler in 'EastEnders'

When Julia Smith and Tony Holland, the creators of EastEnders, were planning the BBC television serial that was to bring the rough and tough world of London's East End into millions of viewers' living rooms, they wrote of its central character, the downtrodden mother Pauline Fowler: "She's very conventional, and the salt of the earth. Jolly. Rounded. Someone you can get your arms round. She doesn't trust skinny people..."