Our Man’s Soap Roundup 2: What I’ve loved and loathed

soaps-corrie-8512-5When I said last time that I would round up my feelings on various soap matters every so often, I bet you thought I didn’t have the stamina to see it through. Shows how wrong you are, doesn’t it? So what’s happened since I last took a step back and had an overall look over soapland? Peter and Rob are both gone from Corrie, Shirley has reappeared in EastEnders and Jimmy King has had the snip reversed in Emmerdale. What hasn’t happened? Alfie Moon hasn’t become likeable yet and no one has burned down that blasted Weatherfield Community Centre. Still, Corrie have announced an exciting live episode for next September, so there’s an idea on what they can do for that.

Here we are then, a handful of things off the top of my chaotic head that I’ve adored and despised in equal measure. Of course, I’m only right 95% of the time, so I’d love to hear your views on what’s nailed it and what’s missed the spot. We have a gorgeous comments box which is just aching for your opinions and you can also chat to me on Twitter HERE: https://twitter.com/Our_manPLA

What I’ve LOVED

Emmerdale: The White Clan

soaps-emmerdale-7007-1Home Farm needs a family with a bit of dosh, a bit of class and a whole lot of bitchiness about the place and all of the Whites, except perhaps the dog (so far) tick every one of those boxes. Lawrence, despite spending much of his time trying to get rid of his son in law and faking heart attacks, is a thoroughly likeable character, while caramel voiced Chrissie is the much needed bit of posh that Emmerdale has been lacking since the Lady Tara Oakwell days. She is fiesty, knows her own mind and wickedly sharp but also has a vulnerability to her given that she has fallen hook, line and sinker for the odious Robert. Speaking of whom, he has come come back with a new face and his wickedness cranked up by several hundred degrees and he is such a brilliantly camp villain that I love him already. His smarmy smirk, his little schemes, his manipulation of all of those around him; he has livened Emmerdale and the Sugden clan up no end. A character we will love to hate, I can’t wait to see what he gets up to next and, when Chrissy discovers his true colours, her reaction will be top claaarrrssss darling while Lawrence will have an incredibly well deserved ‘I told you so’ smile. Beautiful!

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Waterloo Road: Justin’s initiative

justin waterloo road(Series 10, ep.6) In almost too many genius twists to contain in one episode, this week’s Controversial New Initiative was thought up by a pupil rather than a staff member; Troubled Pupil of the Week wasn’t even a pupil at Waterloo Road; and Sonya discovered a passion for writing potboiler romances that was in no way reminiscent of Ruby Fry.

Troubled Pupil of the Week first. His name was Mickey, and Tiffany and Justin spotted him shoplifting tins of generic baked beans. Not even brand name beans, which shows just how desperate he was. Justin paid for the beans (after much nudging from Tiffany). He was rewarded for his chivalry by having his wallet stolen, and it all escalated, with visits to each other’s schools (Mickey was a Havelock boy, until he was expelled), playground fights (thrillingly filmed by a fight cam, right down in the scrum) and finally the offer of a Waterloo Road tie for poor, disadvantaged Mickey. Justin had persuaded Vaughan that Mickey was one of These Kids who needs the special magic that only Waterloo Road can provide.  Continue reading

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Wentworth Prison: The day of Queen Bea

1169727_863580406991012_1994305252_nIt’s hard to imagine that the Bea Smith who meekly entered Wentworth Correctional Facility all the way back at the start of Season One is the same Bea that was, over the last couple of weeks, overthrowing Franky Doyle in a tense blade battle and popping a bullet into the head of Brayden Holt.

And yet, at the same time, it’s not that hard to believe either. The writing and the performances of Danielle Cormack as the new top dog have made Bea’s dramatic and traumatic journey thoroughly believable and enthralling. Bea has faced her toughest challenges from behind bars, not least of all the death of her daughter Debbie and her development into the hardened yet still highly moral character that she has become has been a thrill to watch.

Similarly, the gradual development of slightly sadistic Governor Joan Ferguson into the most supreme television psycho of all time has been just as jaw droppingly exciting to behold. Pamela Rabe delivers such chilling and subtle performances; the kind where a look or a smirk delivers more meaning than a whole page of dialogue ever could. Discovering more about Ferguson’s intentions and true twisted nature has been the making of the second season which somehow managed to eclipse the high standards of the first.

And last night’s finale topped it all off spectacularly, leaving an audience exhausted from the tension but pining for more of the same. Fear not folks, there is a third season on it’s way next year, with writer Pete McTighe already having promised me in our exclusive interview that it is epic.

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Holby City: Time’s up

serena holby(Series 17, ep.6) Adrienne’s story line was never going to end happily. The actors and writers haven’t flinched from showing the emotional devastation, the little highs but many more lows of dementia for both the suffererer and those around her, particularly her family.

Sandra Voe gave the character of Adrienne great intelligence, humour and grace, which made it even harder to watch the disease make her act in ways that weren’t really “her” – physically attacking Serena being just an outward sign of her deterioration.

So when Adrienne looked her daughter in the face and asked her to “pull the plug” on a life that was increasingly slipping out of her control, we knew she meant it. Serena knew she meant it as well, but as a doctor and as a daughter she pushed it away. In the end, she didn’t have to make the decision and Adrienne’s death (following another stroke) was quiet, gentle and very, very sad.  Continue reading

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Coronation Street: Sally reads too much into this one…

Coronation_Street_spoilers__Sally_to_accuse_Tim_and_Anna_of_having_an_affair__reveals_Sally_DynevorThank heavens for small mercies: some Corrie episodes that I actually enjoyed! This is becoming a rare treat these days but last night’s double was an entertaining hour of soap.

Anything that focuses on the brilliant Sally Webster, played by Sally Dynevor, is automatically half way there. I make no secret of the fact that I adore Sally; she is classic Corrie and always delivers, whether it’s in her eager to please factory scenes, her outrageous snobbery moments or her down to earth kitchen sink drama, she is undoubtedly one of the show’s strongest characters.

Pairing her with Tim was a stroke of wonder; the pair are fantastic together and I love the added layer of making Kevin and Tim mates. Corrie could have easily gone down the cliche path of making Kevin and Tim sworn rivals but the fact that Kevin is a somewhat awkward gooseberry in the relationship is inspired. Even though the rushed explanation into how Tim was able to message Faye wasn’t really satisfactory, the story of his inability to read is a strong one, even if it did crop up out of nowhere.

I am glad that the signs are showing that it was not a mere plot device to get Sal to make a fool of herself and I hope that Corrie see this one through properly and with the attention and sensitivity it warrants. Tim has become an endearing character and the viewers root for him so this development, if done right, can only be a positive one.

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I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here: Malaria hits Australia!

gemma-collins-cry_1Gemma Collins spouts diarrhoea on a daily basis, although admittedly this is generally out of her mouth. Last night, the fluorescent yellow excrement (that’s me never eating custard again) was flowing heavily from both ends, as Gemma had a bit of a dicky tummy from all of the deep fried porridge she was having to endure. Always one to play things down, Gemma became convinced that she had malaria, of all things, and, despite walking around and having the energy to constantly complain and lift Craig Charles up with her feet, she insisted that she was suffering from the killer disease (which, by the way, isn’t carried by the mosquitoes in Australia)

When she wasn’t dying from Malaria or threatening to kill herself (yes, she did that again. Tasteful) she was complaining about how much she was suffering from starvation, which prompted the amiable Craig to gently point out that they were in a better position than many of the starving people in the world. This blew Gemma’s mind and she promised never to complain about being hungry again, although I can’t see that lasting. If she thinks the hunger is hard now, goodness only knows how she will feel after 2-3 weeks on congealed rice and bean mush.

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Wentworth Prison: EXCLUSIVE Interview with writer Pete McTighe

IMG_1026The moment Wentworth Prison fans have been excitedly anticipating and dreading in equal measure arrives this week; as the tense second series of the hit prison drama reaches a nailbiting climax that will leave viewers stunned. It’s been a rollercoaster of a series; matching the quality if not exceeding the fantastic debut series. Viewers old and new have embraced Wentworth Prison and it is the ensemble efforts of the writers, crew, cast and production team that have created such a successful show.

I was lucky enough to catch up with writer, Pete McTighe, to chat about his work on Wentworth. Pete has been at the forefront of the Wentworth team since day one, penning the very first episode and five of the other episodes of the first series. After the runaway success of Series One, a further two series were commissioned and Pete has written his fair share of these episodes too, including the explosive finale about to hit our screens.

For a PauseLiveAction exclusive, I present the fruits of my conversation with Pete below as he shares the secrets, triumphs and challenges of working on one of the strongest dramas currently on television.

 

How long does it take to write an episode of Wentworth and what is the biggest challenge of doing so?

Generally I’m pretty focussed and quick – it’ll take a week or two depending on the content of the episode. When I wrote Episode 1, I finished the first draft in 7 days as we had a very tight deadline for delivery to the broadcaster. I force myself to be quite regimented when I write, I’m in a routine now where I try to write for about 8 or 9 hours a day (with short breaks), or give myself a daily page target and don’t stop until I meet it.
The biggest challenge comes from the closed environment of the prison – it’s a great device to slam characters together and create/build tension between them, but can also be problematic – for instance figuring out exactly how someone could escape from prison in a grounded and believable (but also exciting) way.

 Do you have a favourite character to write for?

For Series 1, it was Jacs and Franky. For Series 2 and 3, I’d have to say Ferguson and Boomer. It was a real thrill writing Ferguson’s introduction, that was something I’d been eager to do ever since we started the series. I loved Maggie Kirkpatrick’s interpretation of the character back in the day and as a writing team we were all interested in finding a new take on her. Pamela Rabe just nailed that character. We were so lucky, our producers & casting people put together an amazing ensemble.

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