EastEnders legend reveals behind the scenes secrets on the most watched soap episode EVER

(Image credit: BBC)

Former EastEnders star Anita Dobson has revealed what it was like to be part of the most popular episode of the TV soap ever - but can you guess what the episode was?

Former EastEnders star Anita Dobson, who is best known as Walford's Angie Watts, has revealed how it feels to be part of the soap's most iconic episode ever made.

You'd be hard pushed to find a soap fan these days who hasn't seen the unforgettable moment that Den Watts handed wife Angie divorce papers on Christmas Day - even if it was more than 30 years ago.

The episode was originally aired back in 1986, but even if you're lucky enough to have been too young to watch EastEnders in those days, most fans will have caught up with the classic moment online.

But just in case you haven't seen it, here it is...


And the episode isn't just the most watched in soaps, it is also the most watched episode on British TV in general, with a staggering 30.2 million viewers watching Dirty Den mutter the now infamous line "Happy Christmas, Ange" in the Queen Vic pub.

In fact the episode is so well-loved that it is also being shown on Christmas Day on digital channel Drama, and Anita is thrilled that a new generation of viewers can enjoy the classic episodes...

ita Dobson Doesn't Really Need An Introduction. In The Last 18 Months She Has Become Television's Leading Lady In Her Starring Role As Angie Watts Of Bbc-1's 'eastenders'. Anita Has Just Released A Vocal Version Of The Eastenders Theme Music E

Anita Dobson has opened up about her time on EastEnders

"I'm absolutely thrilled because to have made something that's so iconic and that people are actually watching again - as well as a new generation - is wonderful and magical. I can hold it up as an achievement in my life," she told metro.co.uk.

When asked why the episodes are still so popular more than 30 years after they were made, Anita credits the amazing EastEnders writing team...

"Those episodes were so well written. They were beautifully drawn characters in those early days - much like when you look back at Ena Sharples or Minnie Cladwell from Coronation Street, I still remember them now.

EastEnders Albert Square

Fans of EastEnders are enjoying reruns of the show on Drama

"That's what made people love those episodes and why they're happy to see them again."

Anita also revealed that being thrown in the limelight overnight changed her life forever...

"I didnt know what had hit me. It was insane. People were following me home in cars, singing outside my window at my flat, I couldn't go to pubs or supermarkets or walk down the street. It was exacting that I got to do that."

Watch Angie and Den's iconic divorce paper episode on Christmas Day at 7pm on Drama.

EastEnders airs Monday and Friday at 8pm and Tuesday and Thursday at 7.30pm on BBC One.

Picture credits: BBC, Anita Dobson image: Ted Blackbrow/Daily Mail/REX/Shutterstock, Albert Square sign: BBC/Jack Barnes

Claire Crick
Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch

Claire is Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch and has been a journalist for over 15 years, writing about everything from soaps and TV to beauty, entertainment, and even the Royal Family. After starting her career at a soap magazine, she ended up staying for 13 years, and over that time she’s pulled pints in the Rovers Return, sung karaoke in the Emmerdale village hall, taken a stroll around Albert Square, and visited Summer Bay Surf Club in sunny Australia. 

After learning some tricks of the trade at websites Digital Spy, Entertainment Daily, and Woman & Home, Claire landed a role at What’s On TV and whattowatch.com writing about all things TV and film, with a particular love for Aussie soaps, Strictly Come Dancing and Bake Off

She’s interviewed everyone from June Brown — AKA Dot Cotton — to Michelle Keegan, swapped cooking tips with baking legend Mary Berry backstage at the NTAs, and danced the night away with soap stars at countless awards bashes. There’s not a lot she doesn’t know about soaps and TV and can be very handy when a soapy question comes up in a pub quiz! 

As well as all things soap-related, Claire also loves running, spa breaks, days out with her kids, and getting lost in a good book.