KOCE to Revive 'EastEnders'

The saga of the British TV series "EastEnders," dropped earlier this month by Orange County public-TV station KOCE Channel 50, has taken on a happy ending: The show returns to the air June 16.

The turn of fortunes may be completely at odds with the gritty, working-class realism that has made the show a hit at home and, increasingly, in the United States, but "EastEnders" fans aren't likely to complain. They pelted KOCE with more than 200 letters and 500 phone calls protesting the show's cancellation this month for lack of funds.

KOCE, which held exclusive Southern California rights to the BBC program, said Thursday that the Queen Mary & Spruce Goose Entertainment Center in Long Beach will provide the $30,000 needed to purchase the next batch of 195 episodes, which will carry the show through April, 1991. When "EastEnders" returns, two half-hour episodes will air back-to-back each Friday at 10 p.m.

In rescuing the show, Queen Mary-Spruce Goose officials cited the British connection.

"Our second-biggest international tourist market is from Great Britain--the first is Japan--so it makes good business sense for us to do this," said Rich Kerlin, public relations manager for the Queen Mary-Spruce Goose. "Also, we realized after talking to . . . various KOCE reps that there was a big and rather enthusiastic following for the program. So it will also show good will to the community."

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