The show is 25 years old, and it celebrated with a great live episode last night, which also brought one of the longest-going ''who dunnit'' story lines since the "Who Shot Phil?" saga in the early 2000s, to a close.
The first episode I can remember watching was the death of Saskia. I don't remember a whole lot, but I think everybody remembers the big scene with a crazed woman on Steve Owen's back, strangling him, as he desperately hits her with the nearest object: an ash tray.
Bang, she's dead. After that there was the great big Steve-Matthew Rose storyline, and I can remember the Di Marco family, and various other characters.
I was about 8, then, I think. After that it's hazy, until the Dan Sullivan period, as well as other plots. My grandmother was cleaning out a cupboard and found a recording tape, with an omnibus from October 2000, after Sonia Jackson has had her baby on the sofa in Dot's sitting room. Dramatic stuff.
EastEnders ran our lives for about 7 years - it was a routine to eat before EastEnders came on. Mondays and Fridays, before 8, Tuesdays + Thursdays (eventually) before 7.30.
For me and my brother, it was a case of EastEnders on Monday, Tuesday followed by Holby, Thursdays Buffy The Vampire Slayer then EastEnders (or we'd be eating during the former and recording it whilst sulking) and then Fridays EastEnders and whatever else there was on television.
I think, for most people, Wednesday is the most television-less night in the country.
The show plot at one point got quite ridiculous, that our non-EastEnders lives took priority, and it was quite easy to slip out of the habit of watching. Just don't record it when on holiday, and eat whenever we damn well pleased. Occasionally, for Christmas, we'd watch, and it was damn easy to know what was going on, anyway. For the 2 or 3 years I wasn't watching, we still knew who was new on the square, who was leaving, what the big plot was - it was all over the fronts of the television schedule magazines in the shops, particularly the Radio Times. We did watch one or two special episodes - Funeral of Frank Butcher, or as I said, Christmas Big One, or the odd wedding, if we were interested in that character.
Last February, I started watching again. I was going through a very very low patch, and EastEnders was one of the things I could return to as a sort of comfort blanket - yes, the Mayhem, Horror and Misery of Albert Square was a comforting thing! I didn't watch over the summer holidays, but somehow that didn't matter. I probably would this year though. Oo-er.
The time slots also meant that by evening time, when I was ready to wind down, I had something on tap - I could save up episodes if I wanted, or they filled the hole that other t.v. shows I followed left in my week.
It was so easy to watch. I knew the characters, and those I didn't were quickly introduced.
My grandmother bought me the Valentines Day dvd that was released, with a special one-hour episode of Ricky and Bianca, to honour their monumental return and re-marriage. In fact, Bianca's yelling "RICKAAAY" angrily across the square was how most of Walford's residents knew she was back at all!
It contained lots of footage from when I was young, and my god, it brought back memories.
There are some clips, which are repeatedly replayed as ''The most classic'' clips ever, such as the Divorce Papers episode, where Dirty Den tells Ange he knows her game. I wasn't even alive then and I know every bleeding word of that scene.
Some of the actors I feel I've grown up with, and some that I've watched grow so old, they've had to be killed off. I've seen returns, exists and huge family revelations. ("You're not my muvver" "...YES I AM" - another overplayed but brilliant scene)
EastEnders is easy to relate to, even if you're not a knocked up teen, a rape victim, a bi-polar sufferer or even going through a divorce.
I won't begin to say it reflects every day life, cause that'd be bonkers.
But I will quote this:
"Life doesn't imitate art, it imitates bad television".