Walford State of Mind: EastEnders As Reported By the Walford Gazette
But it is with Deepak Verma - who played adulterous gambler Sanjay Kapoor for five years in the 90s - which really stands out. Here, they are pictured together in Deepak's garden. As the editor of the only Walford Gazette anywhere in the world, he's also managed to annoy EastEnders executives — and was originally banned from going on set for three years. Gretchen Franklin, who played Ethel and became Larry's surrogate British granny, was so outraged she offered to sneak him on set disguised as her dog sitter. Larry produces the Walford Gazette four times a year, as well as running a website devoted to the goings-on in Albert Square.
When journalist Larry launched the Gazette in there was no internet and he knew very little about the real-life actors. But he scored a world exclusive for his first edition after tracking down Nick Berry, who played Wicksy, in New York. The stunned star thought he was a 'nobody' in the US and was so amazed he had an American following that he invited Larry for breakfast at his swanky Central Park hotel.
In the early days, Larry spent a fortune buying British newspapers and magazines from expensive international newsstands in America to learn about EastEnders. Then the actors he befriended started posting him cuttings. And every few months she would send me a bundle of magazine and newspaper stories,' Larry says. Before the internet, the Gazette had a circulation of 5, It's now down to 1, subscribers but it is also on sale in British shops like Tea and Sympathy in New York, and there's now the Walford Gazette website at www.
Publishing the Gazette over the past 23 years has been a real labour of love for Larry. He's twice been made redundant from jobs but couldn't claim unemployment benefits because bureaucrats deemed that he had a job. A number of stars have been pictured reading it over the years - including Dot's evil son Nick Cotton, who is played by John Altman, another friend of Larry's.
Gretchen Franklin, who played Ethel, offered to sneak Larry onto the set when he was banned by producers in the s after running a story about another fan sneaking onto the set. Producers these days are friendlier - sending him this autographed road sign recently. Larry was a struggling journalist living in Washington DC when he watched the first episode of EastEnders in I was mesmerised from the start.
I think I got 80 per cent of it, 10 per cent I could work out through body language and the final 10 per cent went over my head. By , there was an army of fans across the US. Some were ex-pats who missed British TV but many were Americans fascinated by life in the fictional working-class suburb of Walford. He managed to turn a work trip to London into an EastEnders holiday but was turned away from Elstree Studios by security. Apparently he'd upset executives for running a story about an American fan who'd sneaked into Albert Square.
I take that as a badge on honour. Larry has also found fame by himself - simply for being an EastEnders superfan.
Larry with Michael Greco, who played Beppe di Marco from to Larry counts Deepak Verma, who played Sanjay, among his closest friends and they stay at each other's homes on holidays. And while hanging around the EastEnders set, Larry has come across some real-life scoops. He spotted Hannah Waterman Laura Beale giving Ricky Groves Gary Hobbs a passionate kiss in her dressing room and realised they were a couple long before it officially came out.
But as extra episodes were added every week in the UK, America only aired a one-hour omnibus. We boycotted the channel as a protest. But he has never met Adam Woodyatt - the only original cast member still in EastEnders.
Larry hasn't seen Lucy's brother Peter in his most recent form, played by actor Ben Hardy, left, and long-time character Abi Branning Lorna Fitzgerald, right hasn't even appeared on the show yet in America - yet both are in the frame for Lucy's murder, a whodunnit which has gripped the nation. Other EastEnders fans in America have to make their own entertainment. The Charlotte, North Carolina, branch staged a Valentine's Day fancy dress party to mark the 30th anniversary.
They needed Angie there too.
After 23 years of publishing the Gazette, only two stars have eluded him. He briefly met Ross Kemp, who played hardman Grant Mitchell, but was too tongue-tied to ask for an interview. And Adam Woodyatt, who as Ian Beale is the only original cast member still with the show, has turned down his requests to meet.
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As for being ten years behind, Larry says he doesn't mind it - 'except when someone has died in real life'. That is a bit weird. The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline. EastEnders' biggest fan is a New Yorker who's had the show's stars over to stay — but don't tell him what happens to Lucy Beale because he's ten years behind!
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Larry Jaffee (Author of Albert Square & Me)
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Walford State of Mind: Eastenders as Reported by the Walford Gazette (Paperback
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