Shaun Williamson has suggested 'EastEnders' could "go back to basics" in a bid to drive up viewing figures.

Shaun Williamson

Shaun Williamson

The 52-year-old actor played Barry Evans in the BBC One soap from 1994 to 2004, and while he accepts the show will never hit the ratings heights it did in the 90s, he believes the programme might attract more viewers by being "a bit gentler".

He said: "Unfortunately you'll never get the viewers back that you had in the 90s.

"Only thing ['EastEnders'] can try now is go back to the basics and be a bit gentler - but will people buy it?

"Else they'll go back to four women in the pub with a bottle of stout? I don't know.

"Well if you think ... the very first episode is a kid finding a murdered pensioner.

"It's always been going on, there's just a bit more of it now."

One of EastEnders' latest big storylines saw Shakil Kazemi (Shaheen Jafargholi) tragically stabbed to death by a gang, and Shaun thought the soap's crew did an "outstanding" job portraying the character's funeral, which featured family members of real-life knife crime victims.

He said: "They recently did an episode of a funeral of a lad who got stabbed and it was just outstanding television.

"It was as good as anything you'll ever see. But you can't do that four times a week.

"They're making a movie [every] week - same as 'Coronation Street' which goes out five times a week (sic).

"It's two-and-a-half hours a week, it's a lot of output."

However, Shaun admits because the soaps air so many episodes nowadays there is always going to be some "mediocre" content, as well as "excellent" eps.

He added to "Some of it is going to be mediocre, some of it is going to be excellent."