A statement by the BBC and a report from The Sun both reveal that BBC bosses have axed Sean O’Connor as executive producer of the soap.
Sean O’Connor was appointed executive producer of EastEnders in June 2016 after Dominic Treadwell-Collins stepped down from the role to pursue other projects. O’Connor had previously worked on The Archers.
Today, the BBC have released a statement explaining that Sean O’Connor has decided to step down from his role and leave EastEnders so that he can focus on his feature film career.
Speaking of his decision to leave, Sean O’Connor said: “I’ve had an amazing time at EastEnders. Working with the editorial staff, cast and crew at Elstree has been an absolute privilege. They are the kindest, most loyal and hard-working team in the business. But my heart lies in feature films and I’m hugely excited as my film projects are now reaching production. When the BBC asked me to take over at EastEnders, my plan was to stay until the end of 2017 but with production starting on these films sooner than anticipated, I must –-with a heavy heart- bid farewell to Albert Square. I’ll enjoy watching EastEnders go from strength to strength but will miss everybody enormously. Elstree really is a place where you make friends for life”
While the BBC are reporting this, The Sun are reporting a different story altogether. They claim that the EastEnders boss was called to an immediate meeting on Thursday (22nd June).
The Sun are reporting:“It is understood that stars on set felt they had been bullied under his regime and other actors and staff were left in tears. But in a further twist, 49-year-old O’Connor is now saying he is unfairly being blamed for the programme’s woes and is contemplating suing for unfair dismissal.
The Sun also claim that there have been accusations that actors and crew have been shouted at and there has been name-calling, which has left some in tears. Scott Maslen, who plays Jack Branning, was particularly upset by what’s happened.
An insider at the show has told The Sun: “The show is in turmoil and something had to give so it’s no surprise he’s gone. The atmosphere’s been awful on set for months, the storylines are dreadful and ratings have gone through the floor.”
John Yorke will be stepping in as Creative Director on a temporary basis, while the process for the permanent replacement takes place. Yorke was previously executive producer of EastEnders from 2000 until 2003.
During his tenure, John introduced the Slaters and was responsible for huge storylines such as “Who Shot Phil”, Ethel Skinner’s death and Kat Slater’s revelation to her daughter Zoe that she was her mother.
EastEnders continues next week on BBC One.