Eastenders has long been an insight into the lives of East Londoners, representative of the diversity that London represents and often tackling timely issues before other TV dramas are able to. And now Vanessa Feltz has expressed her desire to join the show as a ‘Jewish granny.’
The 56-year-old actress and TV personality has asked producers to consider adding more Jewish characters to the show so that the ethnic group – which has played a huge role in the history of the East End, was better represented.
Feltz presents a show on BBC Radio London, and speaking on it she said: “Why don’t EastEnders have more roles for middle-class, Jewish grandmas of 56? They need one and I’d love to do it. I’d be marvellous for the part.”
Ever since hitting TV screens in 1985, Eastenders has boasted of an on-screen diversity that’s ahead of its time. The Telegraph said: “The soap’s diversity (with black, asian, gay and disabled characters a fixture) made arch-rival Coronation Street look quaintly old fashioned and left it scrambling to keep up.”
Soap operas in general have often been the first onscreen to break taboos and tackle difficult issues; in the 1990s, Mark Fowler returning to the street as an openly HIV+ man helped to confront and dispel the myths and prejudice surrounding the disease.
Teenage pregnancy was tackled in the first year that the soap was on air, a gay character joined the cast in 1986, domestic violence was tackled in a sensitive and well-judged way and more than one storyline has scrutinised assisted dying for the terminally ill.
All of this previous form of open-mindedness and diversity means that Vanessa Feltz’ call for more Jewish characters could well be heeded – and we could indeed be seeing a Jewish granny on the show in the near future.
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