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EastEnders Reprieved Anew

Fans of Brit export EastEnders reruns have once again spared the show from being axed by a public TV station.

The serial drama is expensive by public TV standards, the British Broadcasting Corp. prohibits reairings and it draws a small audience, so WETA-TV in the Washington, D.C., area had intended to cancel it as of Jan. 27 after 19 years on the station.

But local fans, including British expatriates, raised about $52,000 amongst themselves -- enough to pay the license fee for two years. So it’s staying on the air for at least that long, WETA vice president of external affairs Mary Stewart said, confirming a Washington Post report. “This was a unique situation,” she added.

Unique to the station, but not to the show: In February 2005 a similar effort, raising $33,000, kept the show on WLIW-TV in the New York area.

All this for a Cockney soap that, in New York at least, is more than five years behind the story lines shown on the U.K. flagship. Current episodes are offered here only on pay-per-view by Dish Network; BBC America canceled the show in September 2003.