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BBC axe falls on ten top EastEnders.

Ten EastEnders are getting the chop in a shock clear-out designed to sharpen the BBC soap, makers confirmed yesterday.

Sanjay and Gita, George Palmer, Ruth Fowler, and Michael and Susan Rose are among those packing their bags and leaving Albert Square.

Sanjay's mother Neelam, Chris Clark and the elder Di Marcos, Luisa and Bruno, are also set to go in the biggest exodus in the soap's 13-year history.

"Executive producer Matthew Robinson told the actors in the last few days," an EastEnders spokeswoman said.

"In any long-running drama there are going to be changes from time to time.

"We have some powerful storylines coming up this autumn, and some characters will not have a role in them."

Mr Robinson and recently appointed BBC head of drama series Mal Young are believed to be concerned at the widening gap between EastEnders and its ITV arch-rival Coronation Street.

The BBC soap had managed to overhaul Granada's veteran favourite in the ratings for the first time until new producer Brian Park had a similar clear-out in Coronation Street.

But for months now Coronation Street has once again been on top, even when EastEnders' omnibus repeats are taken into account.

Mr Young, the man who put the body under the patio in Channel 4's Brookside, took an axe to his first meeting with EastEnders' actors earlier this year, but said it was a joke.

Some of the departing cast were said to be distraught and in tears when Mr Robinson broke the news to them earlier this week.

Paul Moriarty plays Peggy's gangster ex-boyfriend George Palmer and Caroline Paterson plays Ruth Fowler, while Russell Floyd and Tilly Vosburgh play market inspector Michael Rose and his reconciled wife Susan.

The other actors are Deepak Verma, who plays market trader Sanjay, and Shobu Kapoor, who plays his wife Gita, Jamila Massey (Neelam), Matthew Lewis (Simon Raymond's boyfriend Chris Clark), and Leon Lissek and Stella Tanner (Italian grandparents Bruno and Luisa di Marco).

But there is unlikely to be a major disaster to finish them all off at once.

An EastEnders spokeswoman ruled out a mass departure in an Emmerdale-style plane crash.

"Characters will be leaving over a period of time as and when their actors' contracts finish," she said.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jun 27, 1998
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