‘This must be the end’ Fury as BBC announce ‘woke’ soap to rival EastEnders

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BBC bosses are hoping to launch a new soap which could provide competition for EastEnders, it has been revealed. According to BBC Three controller Fiona Campbell, the aim of creating a “woke” soap on the channel is to better reflect “modern Britain”. The content creator also said the new show would delve into how “tough” it is for teenagers and people in their twenties to navigate their way through life. 

Fiona revealed her plans ahead of BBC Three returning from online-only to regular channels.

She said the new soap might be set far from London, where EastEnders is set, and recruit cast members from social media.

Popular shows on BBC Three have included This Country, Normal People and Fleabag, but a soap opera has not yet aired on the channel.  

Fiona said: “What would it look like? It could be somewhere very specific in modern Britain — Derry or Belfast, Aberdeen or Newcastle.”

“I want to showcase a locality in all its glory. I’d like to provide a platform for the cast of the future,” she told The Sun.

“You can see how many stars came out of early EastEnders.”

The controller also explained the soap would reflect BBC Three’s focus on “how tough it is to be in your teens and early twenties today”.

Fiona also believes young people still seek “shared experience” television rather than only wanting to view shows on BBC iPlayer.

Some BBC viewers took to Twitter to voice their thoughts a new soap, with Dee Lyn saying: “Heard this morning on the Steve Allen show LBC, that the BBC are planning a ‘woke’ soap to replace the slumping Eastenders, this must be the end of them, enough!”

@ItsMeBillysson commented: “So it will be divisive and not include those whose views may differ then? Going against the whole point of inclusivity.”

However, other social media users have reacted positively to the news, with Lucky Roy Singh adding: “I agree ⁦@TVFIONA is talking sense to make soaps more intriguing for young people [as] we need to see relatable real-life issues.

“We need to see representation involving storylines that are happening now! There are so many subjects to touch on.”

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Andrew Byrne remarked: “Since its creation, I thought Eastenders was the woke soap.”

ITV recently announced Emmerdale and Coronation Street will be moving to a new time slot, airing them back-to-back three nights a week.

This means BBC One’s EastEnders, which has been struggling in the ratings for several years, will face more competition from its ITV rival soaps.

The changes for Emmerdale and Coronation Street will come into place in March.

The move is said to bring the “biggest expansion of jobs in ITV News” for two decades.

Kevin Lygo, ITV’s Managing Director of Media and Entertainment, said of the news: “As viewing habits rapidly change, live audiences to our national and international news programmes remain remarkably strong.

“Our evening news programme reached an impressive 35.6 million viewers in 2021. We are very excited to be announcing this investment in what is an important public service strength of ITV – high-quality, impartial, trusted broadcast journalism – at a time when it could not be more important.”

He added: “The new scheduling means that viewers can watch them live on TV in one go in a continuous soap fix, as well as on ITV Hub where they are regularly in the most-watched shows every month.”

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