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Monday, 15 January, 2001, 15:34 GMT
EastEnders goes four times a week

The traumatic story of Dot and Ethel: Just one recent gripping storyline
EastEnders is to gain an extra, fourth weekly episode, BBC bosses have announced.

Fans of the hit BBC One soap will be treated to an additional 30-minute helping of life in Albert Square later in the year.

Scheduling information about the extra episode is being kept under wraps.

However, BBC One controller Lorraine Heggessey confirmed the omnibus edition will remain.

Tamsin Outhwaite as Mel Healy
Tamsin Outhwaite: Happy about the extra show

The plan is part of an extra 120m investment in new, original drama on BBC One over the next two years.

"Viewers love EastEnders and this is part of our commitment to the loyalty of our audience, investing in the future of the programme and capitalising on its success," stated Ms Heggessey.

"People have told us they'd like to see more of Albert Square, and we've responded to that."

Members of the cast also expressed their delight at the extra show.

Demand

Tamzin Outhwaite, who plays Melanie Healy said: "I'm in total support of EastEnders going four times a week.

"The demand is obviously there as over 20 million viewers watched one of the Christmas episodes.

"The demand is there, so let's rise to the challenge."

A spokeswoman for ITV's flagship soap Coronation Street said the extra EastEnders programme was "great news" for viewers.

"We're not up against one another and it means another episode for the viewers so that's great.

"The nation enjoys its soaps and I'm sure people will be pleased. We'll let them decide which one is best."

Mal Young, the BBC's controller of continuing drama, added that the creative team behind Eastenders were already hard at work writing storylines for the rest of the year.

The extension to EastEnders is just one of a number of initiatives in the BBC drama department in 2001.

Yet to come are several major new series including Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World starring Peter Falk and Matthew Rhys.

The Project is a contemporary film from Peter Kosminsky and Leigh Jackson, the team behind Warriors.

Nigel Havers will star in an adaptation of Raffles and William Ivory's wartime romance, Christopher Plummer and Edward Woodward.

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See also:

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