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Wednesday, 12 January, 2000, 11:53 GMT
EastEnders is millennium hit

Wedding bells in Albert Square


The double wedding in EastEnders over the New Year drew the biggest soap audience for 12 months, according to official viewing figures.

A total of 20.89m people tuned in to watch the will-they-won't-they-marry storylines for Natalie and Barry, and Ian and Melanie.

Mel has her doubts
This made the special 31 December episode of the Walford soap, which was repeated on 2 January, the first for nearly a year to draw more than 20m viewers.

It was the highest viewed show since Tiffany, played by Martine McCutcheon, was killed off in the soap exactly a year earlier.

A spokeswoman for EastEnders said: "This is a remarkable endorsement of the power of EastEnders that over 20m viewers chose to see the Millennium celebrations in Albert Square."

Double edition

BBC One screened two episodes of the popular soap on 31 December. The show was also broadcast on huge screens in London's Trafalgar Square - a traditional haunt for New Year's Eve revellers.

Barry has a splash of bother getting to church
The first episode at 5:30pm left viewers wondering whether Barry, played by Shaun Williamson, would make it to the church on time to marry fiancee Natalie, actress Lucy Speed.

There was also doubt about how Ian, played by Adam Woodyatt, would take the news that his bride to be had slept with the Square's villain Steve Owen, played by ex-Spandau Ballet pop star Martin Kemp.

However, the weddings went ahead as planned in the 8pm finale, which also featured the surprise return of jailed Matthew Rose to the Square.

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See also:
02 Jan 00 |  Entertainment
Millennium TV smashes New Year records
20 Oct 99 |  Entertainment
Absolom quits EastEnders

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