Page last updated at 17:49 GMT, Monday, 2 November 2009

New producer set for EastEnders

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EastEnders is preparing to celebrate 25 years on screen

Former Hollyoaks producer Bryan Kirkwood will take over as EastEnders executive producer in February when Diederick Santer steps down.

Kirkwood spent three years producing Channel 4's Hollyoaks and for the past year has been working on its sister show, Hollyoaks Later.

"I'm a huge soap fan... it's a dream come true," said Kirkwood.

"I'll be taking over a show at the top of its game - quite a daunting task but one I can't wait to get started on."

Since 2006, Santer has tackled difficult storylines about issues such as paedophilia and mental illness.

He was also responsible for the creation of the Mitchell Sisters and the Masood family, plus the long-awaited return of Ricky and Bianca.

'Massive audience'

"I've had the most fantastic time at EastEnders. It's without doubt the best job in telly, and I've loved every minute of it," said Santer.

"I'm delighted that I'm passing the show on to Bryan Kirkwood. He's a vastly talented and original producer with a brilliant storylining mind.

"I'm confident that, under him, EastEnders will continue to thrive and to grow and to keep delivering the very best drama to its massive audience."

Kirkwood will take over in the year the soap celebrates its 25th anniversary - and also the year that Barbara Windsor, who plays pub landlady Peggy Mitchell, leaves the show.

Santer will continue working for BBC drama production as an executive producer.

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