EastEnders star Adam Woodyatt – best known for his iconic stint as Ian Beale in Walford – has been braving the I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! castle for the last few weeks.
And bizarre as it may seem going up against slime, creepy crawlies and – reportedly – ghosts in Gwrych Castle, Adam is likely used to the eerie – as he was involved in his fair share of spooky EastEnders storylines.
None were spookier than Children In Need charity spin-off The Ghosts of Ian Beale – which saw several Albert Square favourite characters brought back to life for a very special one-off episode.
To celebrate Adam’s castle stint, we take a look back at the strangest EastEnders spin-offs of all time, from a Top 10 UK single to a book of knitting patterns.
Numerous Walford favourites were brought back from the dead in The Ghosts of Ian Beale, from his mum Kathy Beale to his ex-wife Cindy.
When Ian was knocked unconscious in the laundrette, he wakes up in a bizarre dream to find his ex Cindy – who once hired a hitman to get rid of Ian – cooking dinner.
He later encounters Kathy, who is in a relationship with Billy Mitchell – replacing Phil.
But that isn’t the end for Ian, as he also finds Pat Evans owns the Queen Vic and his daughter Lucy, who was murdered by Bobby in 2015, still alive.
As if it wasn’t all bizarre enough, Pat insists that A-lister Kim Kardashian has been buying clothes from her knitwear business.
Thankfully, it’s easy to resolve the rather strange episode with that of BBC canon, as it was a one-off special to raise money for Children In Need – and Ian soon wakes from his dream to find that the crossword he was completing has been finished off by Lucy.
2021’s climate change crossover week isn’t the only time EastEnders has clashed with an ITV soap.
In 2010, East Street aired – a combination of Coronation Street and EastEnders, in which Corrie favourites like Hayley Cropper, Sean Tully and Eileen Grimshaw met up with EastEnders icons like Zainab Masood, Jane Beale and Darren Miller.
The Walford lot travelled up to Weatherfield in Manchester for a special episode for Children In Need, while Corrie’s Dev Alahan and Michelle Connor head down to Walford along with Liz McDonald, Gail Platt and Jason Grimshaw.
There are plenty of clashes between the soap legends, as Zainab struggles to comprehend Eileen’s lifestyle and the gang discuss the potential town twinning of Weatherfield and Walford.
Jason, meanwhile, strikes up a flirtation with Whitney Dean and romance rumours heat up between Michelle and Alfie.
Taking a peek at the cover for BBC mini-series Redwater, you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for a gritty crime drama along the lines of Line of Duty.
But the series, released in 2017, follows Kat and Alfie Moon as they relocate to the remote Irish seaside town of Redwater in order to find Kat’s long-lost son Luke.
Featuring Shane Richie and Jessie Wallace as Alfie and Kat, the six-part series baffled viewers and critics alike, with one iMDB user calling it a “stupid piece of junk” while another raved: “This is a series I would purchase as a boxset if it was offered!” – and called for a sequel.
Number 1 single
There aren’t many people across the country who don’t recognise the ‘doof doofs’ of the iconic EastEnders theme song.
But did you know it was actually released as a single – and reached Number Four in the UK Singles Chart back in 1986?
The theme song was adapted into a track called Anyone Can Fall in Love, performed by Anita Dobson – AKA Angie Watts.
It is the 12th highest charting TV theme in UK history, and has even been covered by stars including Sophie Ellis-Bextor at a Soho House venue in 2018 – and parodied by comedian Victoria Wood.
Of course it isn’t the only track to be released by the EastEnders team, as various other characters have released singles that stretched outside of Soapland.
Every Loser Wins was performed by Simon Wicks star Nick Berry – and reached an astounding Number 1 in the UK Singles Chart.
Letitia Dean, who plays Sharon in EastEnders, also went on to release a song with Kelvin Carpenter star Paul Medford, Something Outta Nothing, which peaked at Number 12.
And lastly, Barbara Windsor left her indelible mark on the music industry as well as the acting world. In 1999 she released a song with Mike Reid based on Peggy’s wedding to Frank, and The More I See You came out that year.
In fact, audiences at home could get involved too, as The EastEnders Sing-A-Long Album came out in 1986 featuring plenty of medleys from the original cast.
Doctor Who connection
Coronation Street isn’t the only hit programme EastEnders has linked up with in the past.
Back in 1993, a charity crossover between EastEnders and sci-fi classic Doctor Who aired on the BBC, filmed at both Greenwich and at the Albert Square set.
The programme, which came after Doctor Who’s cancellation in 1989, saw a range of previous Doctors returning to battle the Rani, jumping through various time loops which eventually sees characters including Ian Beale and Pat Butcher meet the iconic Time Lords.
The special featured EastEnders legends like Phil Mitchell and Kathy Beale – played by Steve McFadden and Gillian Taylforth respectively – come toe-to-toe with Doctor Who stars like Tom Baker, Jon Pertwee and Peter Davison.
It would be Jon Pertwee’s final appearance as the Third Doctor, as he tragically died just three years later.
…And the downright weird
If sing-a-long albums and Doctor Who crossovers weren’t enough, you could also get your hands on a book of EastEnders-themed knitting patterns.
The BBC EastEnders Knitting Collection released in Woolworths stores in 1986 and featured character photos wearing the esteemed knitwear and guides on recreating the look for yourself.
There has even been a EastEnders board game and arcade game released for the now defunct ZX Spectrum 48K console.
And in 2005, soap fans could get their hands on the interactive DVD game entitled An A-Z Tour of Albert Square, hosted by Adam Woodyatt himself as viewers are tasked with answering quiz questions to unlock classic clips.
EastEnders airs Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday on BBC One
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