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Bryan Kirkwood to leave EastEnders

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Nickie | 13:30 UK time, Monday, 12 March 2012

Bryan Kirkwood has announced that he is stepping down as Executive Producer of EastEnders.

He's been at the helm of the good ship Enders since March 2010, and orchestrated some of the show's most talked about episodes, particularly, the 'baby swap' storyline and the final days of Walford icon, Pat Evans. He also brought Kat and Alfie back to the Square, as well as David and Simon Wicks. He's introduced many new characters - to name but a few - Cora Cross, Derek Branning, the Moon brothers Michael, Tyler and Anthony, and the recast of Lauren Branning, played by Jacqueline Jossa who recently won an NTA for Best Newcomer.

Under his tenure, the show has won the full set of BAFTA, RTS, NTA and British Soap Award. EastEnders was the most watched programme on both Christmas Days for the past two years - this year beating Downton Abbey and peaking at 10.4 million.


Lorraine Newman, Series Producer, will be taking over the role on an acting basis.

Bryan said: "Being the Executive Producer of EastEnders is one of the most exciting jobs in TV, but it’s also the most exhausting - so after two years, I’ve decided it’s time to leave Walford.  It’s been a thrill to work with such talented people such as John Yorke, Simon Ashdown, and our amazing cast and crew. Most of all it’s been a privilege to tell stories that have genuinely had the nation talking. I’m going to take with me some brilliant friends and memories.  

 I’m delighted to leave the show in the capable hands of Lorraine Newman. Lorraine has been by my side every step of the way for the last two years and knows EastEnders inside out. I wish her and the show every future success."


John Yorke, the BBC Controller of Drama Production and New Talent paid tribute:  “I would like to thank Bryan for his extraordinary hard work, a chest full of awards and some great storylines. It’s been a pleasure working with him and I wish him every success for the future.”


Bryan will be sadly missed by all of us here on EastEnders. He'll be sorely missed, and we'd like to say thank you to him for being such an excellent guvnor.



  • Comment number 1.

    Just wanna say thanks to BK for all he has done for EE. I have very much enjoyed it over the last couple of years.
    If you are looking for someone to take over as boss, I am avalible :-)

  • Comment number 2.

    I have to say there are many great things Bryan brought to the show as outlined above but I do feel it is time for a change and I think the new EP will need to look at the writing and storyliners. I also feel that the following characters need to leave... Derek, Ben, Jay, Anthony, Tyler and Lola as they just do not work or characters I care about. I think that's the saddest thing about EastEnders of late, there are too many characters that I do not want to watch. I feel that Mandy, Ray and Rose all have potential - just they're still finding their feet. Please EE get back to what you do best! :)

  • Comment number 3.

    Oh no. What a shame. Well done to Bryan kirkwood

  • Comment number 4.

    What a shame, you did very well Brian! Shame about all the people moaning about Derek Branning, I dunno if it's those people that put you off, but I cant say I blame you with the amount of stupid complaints viewers are always making.
    "Get rid of Derek this, get rid of Derek that, derek, derek, DEREK" And I dont see a problem with him at all, I'm sick of them, dunno how you're feeling about that!

    Good luck for the future, thanks for great TV and entertainment you've given me.

  • Comment number 5.

    bad news I thought BK was a good executive producer sad to see him go wonder who will take over?

  • Comment number 6.

    oh right my mistake it says who will be taking over as EP still sad.

  • Comment number 7.

    I have to say I have enjoyed a lot of the recent story lines that have been provided but have to say there are many changes that need to be made. There are a few of the cast that could do with a black cab ride out of the Square including a certain Derek Branning........and Lola. Good luck in future ventures BK.

  • Comment number 8.

    I'm so glad he's leaving, he ruined EastEnders to the point it could'nt be ruined anymore. He turned a family based show with a mix of younger and older characters and turned it into another Hollyoaks. I'd rather have Kate Harwood or Louise Berriage than Bryan anyday. Its such a shame that the ratings have declined, because its such a brilliant show. John Yorke should give it a kick up the ass and save the show before its too late, i think John was the best EP because he cared about the roots of the program, there always was a mix of young and older characters in the show. I don't see why Bryan had to change it. Such a shame

  • Comment number 9.

    Although he introduced some great characters, im glad he is leaving some of the storylines have been terrible and he axed the wrong people!

  • Comment number 10.

    Seems nice enough bloke but since Diedrick Santa left, and he has taken over, the show has been pretty rubbish! I don't think there has been a good storyline since Peggy Mitchell left! It all went downhill with the baby-swap storyline and has snowballed from there :L...

  • Comment number 11.

    quite happy about this tbh, hopefully now we can get somebody in that can repair the damage hes done to the kat and alfie dynamic and characters. theres a lot of people who have only know the bryan kirkwood version of kat and alfie, and therefore think kat is some cold hearted bitch,who treats alfie like crap and sleeps around at the drop of a hat. personally i watched kat and alfie from the start in 2002 and watched them become the best and most loved couple in eastenders history with this amazing chemistry between jessie and shane that made their story so believable and why people took 'kalfie' to their hearts. thats why i think its sad and wrong when people just think kats some dirty slag, thats not what shes about, it never was,thats what bryan made her out to be. if you want to see the real kat and alfie watch some clips from their first run, hopefully we can get them back to what they were. :)

  • Comment number 12.

    this is brilliant news, hopefully EE can get back on track, the EP hopefully will be better than BK

  • Comment number 13.

    Well done to Bryan, I just hope whoever replaces him doesnt go breaking up Christian and Syed permently! They are extremely popular and well liked by millions and it would be a very foolish move.....just sayin ;-)

  • Comment number 14.

    I did not expect this news I have to say I do think its time there was a new producer the baby swap storyline was good but the ending was poorly written the episodes when max ect found out Tanya had cancer was brilliant but the biggest let down has to be the last two christmas episodes [2010 and 2011 ] so I'm hoping this years will be brilliant.Bryan brought Kat and Alfie back so at least some think good came out of him running the show. I just hope Lorraine is going to sort the show out the storylines have been so poor for a good while now time will tell I suppose

  • Comment number 15.

    there has been a lot of unpleasant comments on different forums over bk. i personally feel he has been a good ep. ee has won a humongous amount of awards under his reign and has had some very memorable eps. i would like to thank bryan for bringing us the wonderful and talented ann mitchell in the role of cora cross, a great signing. all the best bryan for the future.

  • Comment number 16.

    I'm going to sum up BK's Career in four ways:

    Worst storyline: Baby swap
    Most unrealistic storyline: Denise's 'death'
    Best storyline: Pat's death
    BK's job overall in a single word: Oops.

    Enough said.

  • Comment number 17.

    Can't say I'm sad to hear it. The "all Derek, all the time" approach HASN'T worked. I watch the show on BBC iPlayer so I can happily skip through any Derek scenes. Now if it were "all Chryed, all the time" you wouldn't hear me complaining! Yes, remember them? Maybe if we all concentrate really hard we can.

  • Comment number 18.

    I watch the show every day from Australia...yep, I'm an Aussie and can't get enough of it...EastEnders as well!??! Sorry, I forgot where I was!?! I somehow blundered into accuracy on Pay TV about 18 months ago and it was on. I saw someone get hit over the head with a Queen Vic "head" and thought, "Gee that doesn't happen every day in a Melbourne Pub so I kept watching and watching...and watching...and...
    You guys can have our Neighbours (my bloody neighbours have a barking dog which will soon be 'de-barked' early one morning!!!) and Home and Away (I wish my 'her outdoors' went away more often!!) but keep giving me eastEnders...pleeeease!
    The acting is 200% better than the Aussie rubbish we send you and besides, I am in love with Kat Moon...any chance of a signed photo for a fair dinkum red-blooded Aussie bloke?? Anyway, I reckon all the characters are cool and the storylines often have a message for the audience...teen suicide, prostitution, depression, bullying and similar thimngs happen in Oz as well, so keep up the great work whoever takes over at EE. I think we are about 3 months behind you guys in Britain-that's Ok. hope to get over there for the Ashes...anyone fancy a boarder for a couple of months? 53 y.o. bloke, single/divorced, enjoys getting outdoors especially for a barbie and I love all sports...take no notice of that stuff...I'm only being serious!!!

    Have a good one.
    Thanks for your time guys and keep up the great work...Go Hammers!!!

  • Comment number 19.

    Bryan might be well liked on a personal level but he has been a disaster to Eastenders.

    Having watched since episode 1, this year I voted for Corrie in the NTAs! I am sick of storylines where characters change their entire personality to fit ie Alfie telling Kat 'I knew what I was marrying' to allow her to do the nasty in alleyways! Horrible!

    I also hated the baby swap storyline because it did nothing to highlight cot death but sensationalised it, creating a confusing commentary on what was being said re mental health and the effects of losing a baby. Pointless and potentially damaging.

    The Derek Branning character is awful and brings nothing to the show. Albert Square doesn't always need a gangster. It's unrealistic and anachronistic nonsense!

    Cora is a weird attempt to bring back the Lou Beale type character. It doesn't work but I quite like her sometimes.

    All in all, it's become a messy mismatch of laughable or convoluted plots which are either a) blatantly obvious or b) laughably ridiculous.

    Until EE stops dumbing down its stories or demanding such a suspension of disbelief its viewers are expected to step through the looking glass, I will not be making a supreme effort to watch.

    The Heather issue is also very annoying. To not renew Chryl's contract because of her personal life is outrageous. She is a well liked character but she's overweight and not a youngster so the BBC can a) make judgements about the actress's lifestyle and b) kill her off as soon as she meets someone? This is cynical at best and I am very disappointed. A younger, thinner actress would never have been on the receiving end of such treatment. That's the 'shocker', not the storyline!

  • Comment number 20.

    A bit gutted you are leaving but many thanks for the new impetus of character driven stories which I enjoy very much. And thank you for your kind words last year Bryan, much appreciated and working very hard on developing my skills and talent. Good luck in the future and maybe one day I would work with you.

  • Comment number 21.

    Well if Bryan is leaving I suggest that the country now SAVES HEATHER!!!!!!!!!!! We dont want her to die - we all LOVE her so much she is the biggest asset on Eastenders and I suggest that we start a Facebook reprieve of her death before it happens next week - it will be a first ever but it must be possible?????? Lets go for it - check out facebook now!!!

  • Comment number 22.

    good storylines i hope this one leaves the same characters not like that bryan

  • Comment number 23.

    I think Bryan has caused the show to have ups and downs and may well be the reason it didnt do so well for awards this year, and believe me it pains me to say this because I can count myself as one of the biggest Eastenders fans ever. I hope the new EP can maybe tone down the character of Derek Branning because he strikes the fear of god into me everytime he comes on screen, even Jamie Foreman said that he has known some bad people in the past but Derek is the nastiest B*****d ever. I think Simon 'Mr Eastenders' Ashdown would be perfect for the role of EP he is amazing, anyone agree?

  • Comment number 24.

    I've enjoyed some aspects of Bryan's era on the show - including some of the new characters such as Derek, Ray, Anthony ( less bothered about Tyler) and the new castings for Ben and Lauren ( Phil watching his son spirel out of control is going to be interesting, though i don't like who his next victim is going to be) but aspects I haven't enjoyed is the higher-then-average amount of misery that's inflicted most characters recently ( especially Kat and the Masoods, who've been missing their humourous side for quite a while ) and the chronic underuse of Christian and Syed - two of my favourite characters and the show's only gay couple. They've had few decent episodes over the last 18 months in terms of screentime ( Syed especially hangs around in the background quite a bit) and Amira's return didn't seem to be a priority with the producers and writers, not moving her development forward in any way until her very last episode.

    Overall Bryan has done a decent job but it's the right time for a new EP to take over.

  • Comment number 25.

    This is sad news as I think Bryan is a fantastic producer, who is never afraid to push the boundaries, it's just so obvious he's a fan of the show and loves so many of these wonderful characters. His passion for the show oozes. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Bryan for all his hard work over the past 2 or so years. Being the executive producer of EastEnders is one of the best in TV but also one of the toughest, because the book lies in his court. He's signing off scripts, making really big desicions, deciding if characters are working or not - so there must be some intense level of responsibility so he handled it well. He made some big desicions - especially bringing back Kat and Alfie, one of the show's most loved couples and then came the supposed controversial baby swap storyline, he also had four big actresses quit within 18 month with Peggy, Stacey, Ronnie and Pat. He introduced some amazing characters like Cora Cross and Michael Moon. He brought the Janine and Dot we know and love back. He saw one of the biggest characters of the 90's, David Wicks, back for his mothers funeral. The day to day eps were really strong under his tenure. I really enjoyed it and have been hooked throughout. He really did get the nation talking with some of the storylines! As I said, he's a great producer, and a really nice guy who will not only be missed by cast and crew, but also viewers too. However, it's important to keep things fresh and for a new producer with a new outlook and new ideas to come in every few years to keep the show moving forward. So Bryan...thanks for your work...and all the very best for the future...

  • Comment number 26.

    EE won't be the same without him, isn't he the guy who wrote the Baby Swap storyline, I cried.

  • Comment number 27.

    I think Bryan had some good episodes but, the baby swap storyline?
    Heather only just met Andrew and deserves to be happy for once and you kill her off??
    Derek Branning? There are negative and good comments but I think It's good Bryan's leaving the soap needs new storylines and not really sad ones, like death. Pat's&Lydia's death, that was good, i cried in both of them. Cannot wait and see what happens with Janine and her baby!

  • Comment number 28.

    Personally, I have been very frustrated by Bryan Kirkwood's treatment of Christian & Syed, during his tenure as EP they have been appallingly underused. They are arguably one of the most loving and committed couples on tv - gay or straight, portrayed beautifully by John Partridge & Marc Elliott who share an amazing chemistry and yet they've been relegated to the background with depressing regularity. Storylines like surrogacy and adoption which had so much potential were done half heartedly with no time given to flesh out issues or the luxury of adequate dialogue or scene length like other characters enjoy in overkill. The return of Amira which always seemed to be a possibility as Syed needed to find out he had a child but yet again the story arc was poorly executed and came across to me as a viewer like it was been made up as they went along with no real investment been made in the characters and the storyline. Another jaring consistent problem as a previous poster stated is Syed is rarely given a voice, we get weeks of Jack Branning crying over losing custody of Amy (who he showed little interest in before) and who lives across the square and Syed's thoughts and feelings about Yasmin leaving or even what access he will have, are afforded no adequate screentime or insight.
    We finally saw Christian & Syed recently for 2 episodes after weeks off screen and it doesn't look like they're in any upcoming episodes which has become the pattern of their appearances on the show.The real shame is when they do appear you're reminded that they have so much to offer the show but their potential has been wasted. As a fan of Eastenders I am rooting for the show to be great and that means utilizing all the characters/cast in a more balanced manner.

  • Comment number 29.

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

  • Comment number 30.

    Very pleased he's leaving. He never understood what Eastenders is all about. His successor will have to work hard to get me and many people I know back from Corrie!

  • Comment number 31.

    I am glad Brian Kirkwood is leaving EE. It was a HUGE mistake for the BBC to hire an EP from Hollyoaks! Two: BK is the only EP in EE's history to create the worst storyline in British history the infamous babyswap which saw actress Samantha Womack leave in disgust. Rumor also has it this includes Pam St. Clement's decision to depart the show. Three: He has created unbelievable, useless characters such Derek Branning, Lola, the "pretty boy" Moon brothers, and no new direction for Kat and Alfie Mood. If it weren't for Simon Ashdown and others, EE would have more lows than highs. While Mr. Kirkwood did deliver certain episodes that won awards, (due to the talents of certain writers and Production staff) his overall work has been terribly bad. I wish
    Mr. Kirkwood the best in his future endeavors. I'm sure Hollyoaks may have an open spot for him. Many kind regards. May this torturous experience serve as a lesson to the BBC. Lorraine Newman has her work cut out for her - again.


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