EastEnders sweeps the board at the Digital Spy Reader Awards 2023

It’s been a busy year in soapland, with storylines keeping the nation entertained while also tackling important and timely issues that affect us all.

We asked you to vote in a number of Soap categories in the Digital Spy Reader Awards 2023, and the results are now in. The TV categories have already been announced and you can see the winners

But who have been your Soap favourites in 2023?

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Read the full rundown below.

This year Danielle Harold, recently seen on I’m A Celeb, left EastEnders after her character Lola Pearce-Brown died from a brain tumour – and for her work on this devastating storyline, you have voted her Best Actor this year. This is another nod for Danielle, after she won Best Actress in last year’s awards.

Not only was this a win for EastEnders, but staggeringly, the soap has made up the entire top five in the category. In second place is Lacey Turner as Stacey Slater and in third is Jamie Borthwick as Lola’s partner Jay Brown. Rounding out the top five are Balvinder Sopal as Suki Panesar and Shona McGarty as Whitney Dean.

Gina Knight, alongside her sister Anna, arrived on Albert Square earlier this year and immediately made a big impression with viewers – and Francesca Henry has earned the title of Rising Star this year. In second place is fellow EastEnders actor Sophia Khan Levy who plays Priya-Nandra Hart, a character who only made her first appearance in the soap in October.

Other up-and-coming actors recognised in this category include Luana Santos, who plays Sabrina Adetiba in Coronation Street, Lewis Cope as Nicky Milligan in Emmerdale, and Naomi Rukavina as Remi Varga-Murphy in Neighbours.

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Here’s a message from your winner, Francesca Henry:

It might not be much of a surprise after an excellent last 12 months but for the fourth year running, EastEnders has won Best Evening Soap in the Reader Awards. This is followed by the ITV soaps, with Coronation Street in second place, and Emmerdale in third.

Celebrating the award win on behalf of EastEnders is Harriet Thorpe, who plays Elaine Peacock in the soap:

Neighbours have taken back their title as Best Daytime Soap, after a year which saw the show brought back to screens by Amazon Freevee following its cancellation in 2022. Doctors takes second place in the poll in the wake of the sad news that the BBC show would be coming to an end in December 2024, while Home and Away takes third place.

Viewers were left reeling when EastEnders’ Whitney and Zach terminated their pregnancy after finding out their unborn baby had a rare, life-limiting condition. The scene where they said an emotional goodbye to their daughter Peach was soap at its most raw, and has been voted Saddest Soap Moment this year.

In second place is the moment when Coronation Street‘s Paul Foreman was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease, marking the start of a powerful storyline that is still being told now in the soap. In third spot is Juliet Nightingale’s death in Hollyoaks, after the popular character battled Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

In 2022, Lola’s cancer diagnosis in EastEnders was voted Best Soap Storyline, and this is clearly a story that has continued to resonate with viewers, as ‘Loving and losing Lola’ has taken the title this year – a beautiful and tragic story of the character’s final months with her family amid her terminal illness.

Just behind is another EastEnders story within their very successful 2023. The mystery of The Six has kept viewers gripped and sharing theories since the flashforward back in February, ahead the final death reveal on Christmas Day. Also recognised is Coronation Street’s harrowing depiction of Ryan’s acid attack and the aftermath of his traumatic ordeal.

Accepting this accolade are Jamie Borthwick and Max Bowden, who both played important roles in the storyline as Lola’s husband Jay and Lexi’s dad Ben:

EastEnders’ winning run continues with Best Soap Couple, an award which this year goes to last year’s runner-up Suki Panesar and Eve Unwin, better known as ‘Sukeve’ to online fans. They have managed to break fellow Albert Square couple Ben and Callum’s three year winning streak!

In second place are Jay Brown and Lola Pearce-Brown, also from EastEnders, who earned their place as a much-loved couple during Lola’s illness. Also making the top three are Karl and Susan Kennedy from Neighbours, perhaps one of the most iconic soap couples of all time.

Here’s a message from Heather Peace, who plays Eve, accepting the award on behalf of herself and Balvinder Sopal, who plays Suki:

It’s yet more success for EastEnders, as the most shocking soap moment of the year goes to Cindy Beale’s return after 25 years away, with viewers seeing her living in Spain and reunited with Ian. There was also a surprise glimpse of returning characters Peter and Lauren in the same thrilling episode back in June.

Soap fans were also stunned by the reveal of 12-year-old Lily’s pregnancy in EastEnders, and the brutal acid attack involving Ryan and Daisy in Coronation Street.

Queen of soaps Michelle Collins has a special message for fans who loved and voted for Cindy’s spectacular return to EastEnders:

For the final soap award, we’ve become the ghost of soap Christmas past and gone back in the archive to find your favourite festive (or not so festive) episodes. Your favourite soap Christmas storyline is the reveal of Max and Stacey’s affair in EastEnders back in 2007 – on a DVD in front of the entire family, of course.

It is once again a clean sweep for EastEnders on the Christmas podium. In second place is Den serving Angie with divorce papers in 1986, with the savage line “Happy Christmas, Ange!”, in the most watched British TV episode of all time. Also making the top three is sisters Lauren and Abi Branning falling from the roof of The Vic in 2017, which led to Abi’s eventual death.

Executive Producer Chris Clenshaw said of EastEnders‘ success in the awards this year:

“We’re absolutely thrilled to win eight awards including Best Evening Soap at the Digital Spy Reader Awards. It means the world to us and on behalf of the entire EastEnders family – both cast and crew – we’d love to thank everyone who voted. The genre as a whole has told some incredible stories over the past year and we’re therefore very grateful for the continued support of the viewers.”

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