EastEnders most popular episodes

More than 10 million viewers tuned into each of the two episodes of EastEnders last night which answered the long-running question of “Who murdered Lucy Beale?”.

That was three million more than switched on the show the previous Thursday – but the audiences are dwarfed by the numbers who watched such high-intensity instalments of the BBC drama years ago.

When Bianca Jackson (Patsy Palmer) and Ricky Butcher (Sid Owen) married in 1997, the episode was watched by 22 million viewers. And that was outdone by the show on Christmas Day 1986 show when ‘Dirty’ Den Watts handed a divorce letter to wife Angie, which drew 30 million.

The reason for the fall is the increase in the number of channels in the intervening years.

Experts say that TV reaches 94% of the UK each week, and it dominates our media day, accounting for more than half of all the time people choose to spend with any media in the UK.

Lindsey Clay, chief executive of Thinkbox, the marketing body for commercial TV in the UK, said today: “No other medium is as popular as TV, has the power to attract millions of people together at the same time and makes such an impact on our culture.

“TV has always done this, but 30 years ago people could only choose from a handful of channels; now they have hundreds – and the flexibility to watch whenever and wherever they like.

“This huge choice has meant that the TV audience is more spread out than it used to be because people can seek out shows they are specifically interested in – foodies have food channels, sports fans have sports channels, arts fans have arts channels and so on. This has made for happier viewers and a more engaged audience.”

Meanwhile, four people have complained that the BBC misled the public over who killed Lucy Beale in EastEnders.

They said it gave false information in publicity about the suspects in the whodunnit which has gripped viewers of the soap for nearly a year.

It was disclosed in last night’s two episodes of the show, watched by more than 10 million people, that the killer was Lucy’s young half-brother, Bobby Beale.

One viewer complained there was a lack of helpline information to support any viewers affected by the storyline.

Watchdog Ofcom said it had received five complaints about last night’s episodes and would assess them before deciding whether to investigate.


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