EastEnders has never played it safe - whether that's by breaking taboos, like giving Mark Fowler HIV when no one else would talk about it, or by allowing a load of teenagers to take over the show as we did with our spin-off series E20 a few months ago - and we're certainly taking a big risk by deciding to do our first ever live episode for our 25th anniversary on Friday, 19 February.

But it's our risk-taking spirit which has brought us our biggest successes and which has made us the greatest British soap of the last 25 years.

I've been executive producer of the show for nearly three and a half years, overseeing all aspects of the show's content and production, and it is an enormous personal privilege for me to steer the show that I've been watching since I was 15 to its quarter century. This anniversary will be a celebration for the audience of all that is great and has been great about EastEnders over the last 25 years.

We'd mapped out a big whodunnit story (Who Killed Archie?), featuring many of our biggest characters and crossing with Ricky and Bianca's (second) wedding, to play leading up to the anniversary night. But we only decided to do a live episode after we worked out the best way to protect the secrets of the story. The cast, the crew and the audience won't learn the identity of the killer until the night. In addition, of course, it's a new and exciting way for the audience to experience EastEnders and a bracing challenge for our cast and crew.

When I first told the cast about it, their responses were very clearly divided between great enthusiasm and deep worry. In the end, if things go wrong (which of course they won't!) the egg will appear to be on their faces. But as time has gone on, they've all become excited by the challenge, and by the opportunity to work in a different way, albeit for one night only.

We'll be rehearsing loads. Run through after run through, drilling our team like an army, building up confidence, ironing out the glitches, perfecting the action.

Simon Ashdown, who has written the script, will be on hand throughout the rehearsal process, working with director Clive Arnold and line producer Sue Mather to get the very best fit between the creative and the practical. It's very complicated.

Usually when a character walks from the interior of the Queen Vic out onto Albert Square, we film it on separate days - the interior in the studio, the exterior on our 'lot'. But for the live we can't do this - to move an actor from one set to the other requires other scenes in between to cover the action. To sort out these issues, there have been a number of people walking briskly around the site holding stopwatches.

I'm so excited about the big night. I'm confident that the performance will go well, and I'm really intrigued to see what the audience make of the outcome. What I'm also really looking forward to is finally not having to live with the worry of knowing who the killer is any longer. There's very few of us who know, and we've had the story mapped out in our heads (not on paper!) for about a year. We live in constant fear of giving it away, talking in our sleep, nodding at the wrong moment.

None of the actors know who did it. We'll be rehearsing a number of scenes in which a variety of outcomes are revealed, but I won't be telling the cast and the crew which one we're doing until the night, moments before we start transmitting.

It's our biggest ever risk, and our biggest ever night, but I wouldn't want it any other way.


UPDATE 17:12 - PS - I'll be writing here on the TV blog again after the live episode - come back on Monday to see how it turned out!

Diederick Santer is executive producer of EastEnders

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  • Comment number 44. Posted by Bojan Jop

    on 10 Apr 2010 11:27

    This comment was removed because it broke the house rules. Explain

  • Comment number 43. Posted by clairebear

    on 26 Feb 2010 12:19

    the actors had to have known who killed archie before the live show espically the person who murdered.

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  • Comment number 42. Posted by Fiona Wickham - BBC TV blog editor

    on 24 Feb 2010 17:22

    The three clues revealed! And more - Watch Diederick answer questions from the audience about the live episode on the EastEnders website.

    emma - Diederick answers your question, what's next for Stacey? in the second video here!

    Thanks everyone


  • Comment number 41. Posted by Sarah

    on 22 Feb 2010 18:42

    The live show was flippin brilliant!! i had guessed it was Stacey there were just little things that were a giveaway but OMG still had me hooked.
    Im well gutted Bradley is gone him and Stacey were made for each other, Although bringing Alfie and Kat back will make up for it.

    Just want to say Congrats to Diederick and all the writers the storylines over the last few months have been amazing and Well dont to all the cast on the live show x

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  • Comment number 40. Posted by clairmx

    on 22 Feb 2010 16:49

    I LOVED the live episode

    Bradley dieing was sad. I didn't want him to die but I didn't want him to just leave without Stacey lol

    I loved Lacey's performance, best in the show

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  • Comment number 39. Posted by Fiona Wickham - BBC TV blog editor

    on 22 Feb 2010 15:42

    Hello again,
    To those above including Zara, gorde21, emma, Angie Linford, Mark, Ash, mac, julie, Elizabeth, Ex-Tender, Bridget, sweet alternative, Jon and Peter: Please have a read of Diederick's new post: After EastEnders live episode, Stacey Slater disappears!
    He's namechecked you all in responding to all your comments - he explains how they kept the killer's identity a secret through six advance weeks of pre-recs (very good question), what he thinks the music is in the Bradley montage, and gives a few hints of what's coming up next in the plotlines. I can't promise Diederick is able to keep coming back to the blog but there's more of him coming up on EastEnders website - so keep an eye on him there.

    Thanks for all your comments everyone.

  • Comment number 38. Posted by Fiona Wickham - BBC TV blog editor

    on 22 Feb 2010 15:24

    Liz from Melbourne Australia (comment 10 above) - this is an excellent question. I'm the editor of the TV blog so I've asked Matt Humphreys, the editor of EastEnders website to explain why you can't watch the videos from outside the UK.
    This is his reply:
    'Unfortunately, we can't make streaming video available to people outside the UK because of the expense of providing this sort of content. The BBC needs to make sure that we give the best value to the British public who pay the UK licence fee which funds the BBC. There's more info on the BBC Help pages site regarding this.
    It might not be quite the same as watching the show, but check out the EastEnders blog for behind the scenes photos and all the speculation from fans on the fallout of the live episode who dunnit. But beware, there's lots of spoilers!'

  • Comment number 37. Posted by ChloePaige

    on 22 Feb 2010 00:00

    it was amazing and i love eastenders and would love to act on it!!!!

    how ever on the live episode i saw max branning put his fingers down his throat to make him sick when bradley died, theres groups on facebook and theres pictures of him doing it, but hey its live and it still was fantastic, i didnt notice anything else accept this.

    it was amazing and well done to you all i think your all amazing! x

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  • Comment number 36. Posted by ZARA

    on 21 Feb 2010 14:15

    I THINK IT WAS BEAUTIFUL THE WAY STACEY'S HANDS HSOOK AS SHE DROPPED THE BAGS AND RAN TO BRADLEY, THAT IS WHAT TRUE LOVE IS ABOUT. GREAT ACTING.

    THANK YOU TO ALL THE CAST AND CREW

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  • Comment number 35. Posted by tilly

    on 21 Feb 2010 12:40

    Bradley's leaving story was great so to have Stacey to admit to killing Archie was a great exit line for her.Now to distract us from the different outcomes Zeinab's baby arrives with the help of Masood and Christian more to come on this story line cannot wait.But what plans have they for Lucy.

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