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Louise Berridge is a British television producer and script editor. She is best known for being the executive producer of BBC's EastEnders between 2002 and 2004. During her tenure, the long-running soap opera received heavy media criticism and ratings slumped to just over 6 million viewers.[1] Berridge stepped down as chief in September 2004.

Career

Berridge began her career as a teacher, then moved into the television industry. She started as script editor on Granada Television medical drama Medics, her big break came in 1993 when she became a script editor for BBC1 soap opera EastEnders, later going on to become the series story editor, where she worked on the highly successful storyline "Sharongate".

In 1995, she left the popular soap to become a producer. She started as a producer with video drama, doing two series of Staying Alive, and then moved to film drama. Her credits include Messiah, McCready and Daughter, Ambassador II, and an adaptation of Wuthering Heights.

In January 2002, Berridge returned to EastEnders when she was appointed Series Producer of the show, and four months later she was promoted to Executive Producer. During her time there, she introduced characters, such as Alfie Moon, Dennis Rickman, Chrissie Watts, Stacey Slater and the critically panned Indian Ferreira family. The Ferriera family also received criticism from the Asian community, who branded their storylines unbelievable and poorly researched, referencing the family's apparent mix of Muslim, Christian and Hindu characters. Also in 2002 and 2003 she wrote out top characters like Mark Fowler plyed by Todd Carty who had been in the show for over a decade, Lisa Fowler played by Lucy Benjamin who was one of the shows top characters at the time and alost the Evans family which included Barry, Natalie & Roy.[1]

Berridge was responsible for some ratings success stories, such as the Alfie/Kat love storyline, "Janine kills Barry", Jamie Mitchell's death and the return of one of the greatest soap icons, "Dirty" Den Watts who had been presumed dead for fourteen years. His return in late 2003 was watched by over 16 million viewers, putting EastEnders back at number one in the rating war with the ITV's rival soap Coronation Street.[2] However, other storylines, such as a storyline about a kidney transplant involving the Ferrieras, were not well received,[1] and although Den Watts' return proved to be a ratings success, the British press branded the plot unrealistic and felt that it questioned the show's credibility.[3] A severe press backlash followed after Den's actor, Leslie Grantham, was outed in an internet sex scandal, which coincided with a swift decline in viewer ratings.[1][4]

On 21 September 2004 Berridge quit as executive producer of EastEnders following continued criticism of the show. The following day the programme received its lowest ever ratings (6.2 million) when ITV scheduled an hour long episode of its rival soap, Emmerdale, against it. Emmerdale was watched by 8.1 million people.[5]

When leaving EastEnders, her immediate superior Mal Young (at the time BBC Controller of Continuing Drama Series) said Berridge "will now be involved in a major new drama project."[6]

Media offices
Preceded by
John Yorke
Executive Producer of EastEnders
2002 – 2004
Succeeded by
Kathleen Hutchison

References

  1. ^ a b c d "EastEnders chief steps down". The Guardian. 2004-09-21. http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2004/sep/21/broadcasting.bbc. Retrieved 2008-03-18.  
  2. ^ "Sixteen million watch Den's return", BBC. URL last accessed on 2006-09-26.
  3. ^ "'Dirty' Dirty Tactics; EastEnders defied belief by raising Den Watts", Sunday Herald. URL last accessed on 2006-09-26.
  4. ^ "My life as Mrs Dirty Den", Daily Mail. URL last accessed on 2006-09-26.
  5. ^ "EastEnders sees ratings revival". BBC. 2004-09-24. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/tv_and_radio/3686168.stm. Retrieved 2008-03-18.  
  6. ^ "[1]

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