EastEnders first aired on BBC1 on 19 February, 1985, and has won five BAFTA Awards, eight National Television Awards (Most Popular Serial Drama), and five awards at the British Soap Awards for 'Best Soap'. For ten years running, it has won the Inside Soap (a soap opera magazine for British soaps) Award for 'Best Soap'.
EastEnders attracted the most viewers in British soap history in 1986 on Chrismas Day, when Den Watts handed divorce papers to his wife Angie, after discovering that she had been lying about having cancer. 30.15 million viewers tuned into the episode.
EastEnders is one of the more popular British soaps, although its ratings are not as high as when it first aired. EastEnders is now generally behind Coronation Street in ratings.
The BBC does not usually air EastEnders at the same time as Coronation Street, but in 2001, for the first time, the shows were aired at the same time. EastEnders pulled in more viewers (8.4 million), and Coronation Street pulled in 7.3 million viewers. The clash was due to an hour-long special of the soap Emmerdale (shown at 7.00pm), which meant that Coronation Street had to be moved to 8.00pm, on the same day that EastEnders was airing its new fourth episode (Friday 6 August 2001) at 8.00pm on BBC1.