The second season of 'Extras' came to a close here on American TV this week, and Ricky Gervais has stated that it marked the end of the series as well. (Although he has hinted that he'd like to do a one-off with Mel Gibson appearing as himself.)
One of the recurring supportive actors was appearing as himself, Shaun Williamson. But he was never referred to by name, only as "Barry off 'EastEnders'." One gets the impression that its his most notable role. ('Extras' wouldn't even show up on his resume in Toobworld, of course.)
'EastEnders' could be the Zonk equivalent in the United Kingdom of 'Star Trek' here in America. (Perhaps 'Doctor Who' might be its only competitor.) Just from my limited exposure to the offerings by the BBC, ITV, LWT, Granada, and Thames Television, it seems as though 'EastEnders' gets mentioned a lot as a TV show, when in fact it should be considered part of the same TV Universe as the show that mentions it.
I'm just shouting into the wind on that, though, I'm afraid.
"Barry off 'EastEnders'" is probably the most prominent reference, but others have included:
'Gimme Gimme Gimme' - Tom Farrell had a nasty run-in with one of the 'EastEnders' actresses at a function. (How nasty? She gave him a head-butt that put him down for the count.)
'Hot Metal' - "Journalist" Greg Kettle snuck into the men's loo at the 'EastEnders' studio to get urine samples from the unwitting actors from out of the pipes.
'Doctor Who' - The "ghost" of a Cyberman trying to pass over from a parallel Earth was employed as the ghost of Dirty Den in a scene with Barbara Windsor as Peggy Mitchell down at the pub.
But there have been several others. Here's a sampling from the IMDb:
"Inspector Morse: Masonic Mysteries (#4.4)" (1990)
"Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Deadly Bees (#10.5)" (1998)
"Spaced: Beginnings (#1.1)" (1999)
Cinderella (2000/II) (TV)
"Only Human: Make Me Normal (#1.1)" (2005)
"Comedy Connections: Drop the Dead Donkey (#4.3)" (2006)
Red Dwarf: The Tank - Series VIII (2006) (V)
"Comedy Connections: Bread (#5.2)" (2007)
"Comedy Connections: Don't Wait Up (#5.5)" (2007)
I'm not familiar with near half of this group, but I think I've excluded most shows which looked to be variety programs, talk shows, or compilations. But I doubt their complete list tells the full story. After being on the air for over twenty years, I'm sure there have been plenty of references to it in other British sitcoms and dramas......