After a decade away, the former soap specialist returns to Albert Square and the Rovers to check in with its residents

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To show how very long ago it was when I was given the “soap column” World of Lather for the Guide, I remember taking the news on a Nokia 5510, then dancing to a CD single of Independent Women, the red-hot new track by Destiny’s Child: “I buy my own diamonds and I buy my own rings,” I sang victoriously. I was giddy I was being offered actual cash to write about EastEnders, Corrie and Emmerdale – which were at that point getting 7 or 8 million viewers per episode. (Brookside was almost in its death throes.)

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