Entertainment & Arts

Olympic torch relay to visit EastEnders' Walford

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Media captionDrinkers at the Queen Vic find out that the Olympic torch will visit Walford

The fictional London borough of Walford, the home of EastEnders, is to be a location on the 2012 Olympic Torch Relay route.

The flame will arrive in Albert Square on 23 July 2012 for some brief live footage during the show on BBC One.

It will be carried by long-standing character Billy Mitchell, played by Perry Fenwick.

The torch will pass through 1,018 communities across the UK, it was announced last week.

London Games organisers Locog revealed that the torch will pass some of the soap's iconic landmarks including the market, the launderette and The Queen Vic pub.

The relay runs from 19 May to 27 July 2012, with the torch travelling about 8,000 miles, culminating in the lighting of the cauldron at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford at the Games' opening ceremony.

Along the way it will also fly by zip wire from the Tyne Bridge, cross Loch Ness and visit landmarks including the Giant's Causeway and Stonehenge.

EastEnders viewers have already seen characters Fat Boy and Billy Mitchell discover they have been nominated as torchbearers.

In Tuesday night's episode, regulars in The Queen Vic will find out that the torch will be passing through Walford. But it is not until December that Billy will discover he has been chosen to carry it.

The episode next year will see live footage of Billy being cheered on by the residents of Walford as he carries the flame. Although much of it will be filmed in advance, several minutes of the Olympic procession will be broadcast live from the Elstree set.

Sebastian Coe, Chair of Locog, said: "Today's announcement is a great addition to the Olympic Torch Relay Route. I'm sure the people of Walford will now start planning their celebrations to welcome the flame to Albert Square.

"Along with people right round the UK, the residents of Albert Square will be getting involved to make this their moment to shine."

Fenwick added: "When we first discussed the storyline, my initial thought was that I'll now have to get fit!

"While this may be a fictional one-off for Billy Mitchell, it's a real once in a lifetime opportunity for me and I am thrilled that Walford and Albert Square will be part of this amazing event."

The name Walford is a mixture of the place names Walthamstow and Stratford. Tony Holland, one of the creators of the series, was born in Walthamstow in east London, and Walford is also the name of a street in nearby Dalston, where Holland lived.

This not the first time the Olympics and EastEnders have crossed paths. The Olympic Park is to get the same postcode as the soap, the Royal Mail revealed in March.

The site, in Stratford, will receive an E20 code - which is currently used by Walford in the long-running series.

Locog said last week the torch will come within 10 miles of 95% of the population. It will go through every English county and every local authority area in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

People nominated to carry the torch will be contacted with a conditional offer in December and the final 8,000 places will be confirmed from February. Torchbearers were nominated for their contribution to the local community.

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