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39 Years of Pop Success

Unless you have been hidden in a cave, stuck out at sea or buried under a cafe floor for the last thirty-odd years, you may have noticed that BBC’s Eastenders has, this year, reached a landmark birthday.

2024 marks a momentous occasion in the life of one of Britain’s best-loved and talked about soaps. Believe it or not, Eastenders has reached the grand old age of thirty-nine. 

So as we pop the cork on the champagne bottle, raise our party poppers high in the air and gather around the ol’Joannaaaahhh for an excellent old cockney knee up, we must also remember that as well as famous controversial storylines, great characters and some of the most memorable TV of the last 30 plus years, Eastenders and its many cast members have also contributed to the British pop music scene since 1985.

Let me grab my Dr Legg Costume while we take a memory lane trip.

  1. Anita Dobson - Anyone can fall in love.

Everyone’s favourite delirious matriarch was the only person worthy of singing the show’s theme tune. In 1986, reaching number 4 in the singles chart, the relationship between the soap and the pop charts began. Even now, as the opening credits appear, I still sing this tune to the mild discomfort of those around me.

2. Nick Berry - Every Lover wins.

1986 must have been the year Eastenders went pop, and with the second biggest-selling single of the year, loveable barman Simon Wicks took to The Queen Vic stage and knocked out this little number. This single alone was enough to jettison Berry back through the 1950s when he took pride in his well-documented career in the Yorkshire police force.

3. Letitia Dean & Paul Medford - Something Outa Nothing

Again, in the very same year, the local youth of Albert Square were seen to be wanting a sniff of pop stardom. Rumour had it that a Battle Of The Bands competition would take place in The Vic. After falling out with Simon Wicks and creating their renegade pop duo. Two teenagers with a bright idea and much hairspray decided to rise to the challenge. Unfortunately, offscreen, the song didn't share the same chart success as Mr Berry.

4. Martine McCutcheon

Having left EastEnders on a snowy New Year's Eve in 1998 via Frank Butcher's car, and leading to one of the most memorable and moving departures in the soap's history, in 1999, she released Perfect Moment. This powerful ballad charted at number one in the UK and went platinum. Her following four songs also weighed in the top 10, with a studio album called You Me and Us reaching number two.

5. Samantha Janus - A Message To Your Heart

In 1991, England needed someone to lift their Eurovision hopes, and Samantha Janus was in place to do just that after winning the right to perform at Rome by winning A Song for Europe. Samantha went on to snatch tenth place with 47 points, and considering our latest Eurovision attempts, this is pretty decent. 

6. Mike Sarne & Wendy Richard - Come Outside

And finally, back when the world was all in black and white, one of Eastenders most famous faces appeared on this song by Mike Sarne. Before her role as Pauline Fowler, Wendy was famed for her role as Miss Brahms in ‘Are You Being Served’. Reaching number one in the singles chart in 1962, it’s clear that as well as hitting husbands over the heads with saucepans, Wendy Richards also knew how to be a big hitter in the music scene.

Happy birthday Eastenders, now gerrrraaaouutttaaaamyyyypuuubbbb!


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