Soaps

Shaun Williamson wants EastEnders to get back to basics

Former soap star concerned about how BBC One favourite can avoid being 'mediocre' TV

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Soap legend Shaun Williamson believes EastEnders should be “gentler” to win back viewers.

The star still watches the show that propelled him to nationwide fame as bungling Barry Evans – and was full of praise for the Shakil Kazemi knife crime storyline.

But Shaun, 52, reckons show bosses would be best served to “go back to basics” with less intense plots to avoid viewer burnout.

Shaun’s character Barry left EastEnders after being pushed off a cliff (Credit: Channel 5)

Read more: Former Corrie producer Kate Oates makes controversial leap to EastEnders

“It was just outstanding television,” he remarked to Express.co.uk about the moving episode focused on Shakil’s funeral.

“It was as good as anything you’ll ever see. But you can’t do that four times a week.”

Comparing the show’s output to making a film every week, Shaun reflected on how quality can dip when there is so much television content.

He said: “[S]ome of it is going to be mediocre, some of it is going to be excellent.”

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Shaun – a regular collaborator with Ricky Gervais – also pondered whether lighter storylines could help pull in more eyes on the show.

He continued: “Unfortunately you’ll never get the viewers back that you had in the 90s.

“Only thing [EastEnders] can try now is go back to the basics and be a bit gentler – but will people buy it?

“Else they’ll go back to four women in the pub with a bottle of stout? I don’t know.”

Shaun might have to wait a while for plots quite as sedate as that following the appointment of former Corrie boss Kate Oates as the new chief of BBC soaps.

Viewers accused her of moving away from the Manchester soap’s traditional humour and making storylines “too dark” as she introduced Bethany Platt’s grooming plotPat Phelan’s murdering rampageDavid Platt’s rape and Aidan Connor’s suicide.

– EastEnders airs on BBC One on Mondays (8pm), Tuesdays (7.30pm), Thursdays (7.30pm) and Fridays (8pm)

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