From time to time, I find myself descending into a spiral of clicking on Wikipedia. You go to look for one thing, such as "what's the name of the brewery who own the Queen Vic in Eastenders? I can remember the one from Corrie but not the one from Eastenders". And so, I find out that the brewery sold the pub many years ago, and it's passed through the Mitchell family lots and is now owned by Danny Dyer. Apparently.
But then curiosity takes me into clicking on the production of Eastenders. Ever since I was a kid I've had a fascination with how TV shows are produced. Back in the day, I went around Granada Studios Tour in Manchester several times. I wasn't interested in the immersive parts - you know, the bits where an "East German Guard" got on the tram and everyone had to pretend to be scared. I found that all a bit silly, and embarrassing - but I absolutely loved the parts where they showed you cameras and told you how things were made.
So anyway, when presented with a Wikipedia article on Eastenders, I'm obviously going to read about how it's made, whether the Queen Vic has an inside and what's beyond the railway bridge. And in doing so I came across this paragraph - don't worry, you don't have to read it... skip past if you want...
"Although episodes are predominantly recorded weeks before they are broadcast, occasionally, EastEnders includes current events in their episodes. In 1987, EastEnders covered the general election. Using a plan devised by co-creators Smith and Holland, five minutes of material was cut from four of the pre-recorded episodes preceding the election. These were replaced by specially recorded election material, including representatives from each major party, and a scene recorded on the day after the election reflecting the result, which was broadcast the following Tuesday. The result of the 2010 general election was referenced in 7 May 2010 episode.During the 2006 FIFA World Cup, actors filmed short scenes following the tournament's events, that were edited into the programme in the following episode.Last-minute scenes have also been recorded to reference the fiftieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War in 1995, the two minute silence on Remembrance Day 2005 (2005 also being the year for the sixtieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War and the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar), Barack Obama's election victory in 2008, the death of Michael Jackson in 2009, the 2010 Comprehensive Spending Review, Andy Murray winning the Men's Singles at the 2013 Wimbledon Championships, the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, the birth of Prince George of Cambridge, Scotland voting no against independence in 2014, and the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Great War."
To summarise, Eastenders is usually filmed weeks in advance - but sometimes they film last minute scenes to reference breaking news events and slot those scenes into episodes at short notice. They've done it for the following:
2006 World Cup
2010 General Election Result
50th Anniversary of the end of WWII
Two minute silence for Remembrance Day 2005
Barack Obama's Election Victory
Death of Michael Jackson
2010 Comprehensive Spending Review
Andy Murray winning Wimbledon
William and Kate's Wedding
Result of the Scottish Independence Referendum
100th Anniversary of the start of WWI
And something struck me. I can understand why an election result isn't known that far in advance. But the 50th or 100th anniversary of something is surely something the producers can plan for and write into the script in advance?