Tag Archives: Eastenders

EastEnders: Farewell John Bardon

john bardonVery rarely in soap do you get what would be classed as a ‘golden couple’, that being a pair of characters that are so meant to be and have such on screen rapport and chemistry that they are clearly soulmates. With most pairings of soaps succumbing to affairs or killing each other within the year, it is a treat for viewers and fans to have that solid couple who, no matter what the writers would throw at them, their love would still remain.

Coronation Street’s Hayley and Roy Cropper and Vera and Jack Duckworth were prime examples of this. And so were the irreplaceable Jim Branning and his beloved Dorothy. As news reaches us that the fantastic actor behind the kindly and bumbling Queen Vic potman, John Bardon, has sadly passed away, I reflect on one of EastEnders’ most loved characters.

Jim ‘The Basher’ Branning entered the soap as a brash, cruel and violent character, portrayed convincingly by John, but it wasn’t long before the actor’s natural warmth meant that Jim could not always be written this way. John was an actor who conveyed the decency and humour that Jim became loved for, and it was only natural that the character’s progression would follow this.    Continue reading

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EastEnders and Coronation Street preview: What a blast!

soaps-eastenders-moon-house-fire-2WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS. Please do not read further if you prefer to avoid them. 

The aroma of plump sausages sizzling on the barbie, the feel of sand trickling between your toes (and the crunch of it in your sandwiches) and the blazing heat of the one solitary warm day we had are all distant memories. Our thoughts are turning from foreign holidays and ice bucket challenges to how we are going to occupy the slowly darkening evenings.

Cue the ambitious soap producer, determined to reel their temporarily errant, sun worshipping fans back in with an action packed autumn of drama. And Coronation Street and EastEnders are both really going for it this year.   Continue reading

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Emmerdale: Donna cops it, and other village adventures

I love Emmerdale at the moment. It’s a show that has always been able to blend warm drama, excellent humour and nail biting drama effectively and it’s currently firing on all cylinders.

Soaps go through the biggest peaks and troughs of any television medium. Considering they have to churn out several episodes per week and still be expected to remain fresh and original, it’s really no surprise that there are seasons when the shows almost hit the skids. There was a point this time last year when BBC’s EastEnders looked like it was on its last legs, but its recent reinvigoration has really turned things around.dramatic-emmerdale-exit-for-donna-136392684440603901-140814002203

Emmerdale, however, has remained steadily consistent, hitting us recently with yet another blockbuster storyline that had it all. I am, of course, talking about Donna’s downfall, which pulled a range of characters into an emotional scenario that was both thrilling and moving.

Emmerdale played a blinder, keeping the eventual outcome of Donna’s rooftop death a surprise for viewers. The fallout from the tragic events has been heart-wrenching to watch, with particularly notable performances from Michael Parr as the tortured Ross Barton and Mark Charnock as Marlon, the grieving dad of Donna’s daughter, April.   Continue reading

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Common: Uncommonly good

Some things in the entertainment industry are just a given. Ant and Dec will win every possible gong for TV presenting at awards ceremonies, even if they haven’t presented anything that year. A popular much loved EastEnders character will make a point of looking forward to their future before being butchered on Christmas Day. And a drama penned by Jimmy McGovern will always be almost flawless in quality.

Despite the apparent furore over the BBC’s alleged bias towards McGovern’s views on the legal system, Common did not disappoint. Like predecessors including The Street and Accused, here was an often gritty, rarely sentimental and bleakly honest look at an issue through the lives of some intricate and mostly relatable characters.Common-cropped

The drama centred around the debate over Joint Enterprise Murder; the law which indicates that associates who were present in any way at a murder scene can be equally implicated in a killing, without the need to pinpoint the person who dealt the killer blow. McGovern certainly wasn’t sitting on the fence with this one. The drama exposed the foibles of such a law with harrowing consequences for all parties involved.   Continue reading

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EastEnders: Unmissable

ian peter eastendersIt’s the morning after the EastEnders the night before, and my jaw is still on the floor next to the pile of soggy tissues. It was, quite simply, the best half hour of drama I’ve ever seen in a TV soap.

Producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins said, “We’re doing it forensically. The minutiae. We’re doing grief first; it’s not a silly death. It’s about death in a family,” and he wasn’t kidding. The episode focused on the immediate aftermath of Lucy Beale’s death: the police telling her father, Ian, and Ian telling the rest of the family. I’d expected to feel sad and tearful. What I hadn’t expected to feel was such a sense of dread at various points – when Ian had to face going to the peter ian eastendersmortuary to see Lucy’s body, when he had to tell his other children. Even when his phone rang and he wasn’t ready to talk to anyone. It was grief shown like it really is. Almost the most poignant scene was when Ian was sitting in the waiting area at the mortuary with the police officer, and they made small talk about where she grew up and the places they both knew. He even smiled at the memories, but you could see behind the smile was the realisation that nothing in his life would ever be the same again. It was utterly real, and the performance from Adam Woodyatt as Ian was incredible and intense in every facial expression and every gesture. All the peripheral details added to the brilliant work from the lead actors – little things like the policeman washing up the tea mugs, or the look on Lauren’s face when she saw Ian coming into the pub to look for his son, Peter (lovely work from Ben Hardy).   Continue reading

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BBC Three: Still a magic number

With today’s announcement that licence payer funded channel BBC3 is for the axe, social media is divided about whether the cost cutting move is the right one. Whilst I’m all for brand new up and coming talent being denied opportunities so that Eastenders can have more car crashes, it has to be said that BBC3 has dished up some decent (and admittedly not so decent) material in the past.

Our Man In The North is donning his nostalgia hat and taking a reflective look back at some of the shows born of BBC3. Shows as globally popular as Little Britain, Gavin and Stacey, Torchwood and Anthea Turner’s Perfect Housewife (No? Just me then…) made their humble beginnings on the channel and, whilst Snog Marry Avoid suggests otherwiseBBC3 is undeserved of its reputation as a peddler of trash TV.

ImageFor every Don’t Tell The Bride (which incidentally gave me some GREAT ideas for my own wedding. Dressing the sisters in law as goblins was inspired) there was a fantastic documentary such as Tough Young Teachers, Tourettes: I Swear I can Sing, Young Soldiers and Growing Up With Downs. Far from being the inane programming BBC3 was famed for, the documentaries that were hidden amongst the schedules could be deep, moving, thought provoking and groundbreaking and, whilst a scroll down their documentary history presents other titles such as Eastenders Sweethearts: The Story of Sonia and Martin, Britain’s Worst Teeth and Table Dancing Diaries (in which paperback journals give some very erotic lap dances, I assume), there have been some true gems.   Continue reading

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EastEnders: Proper East End men

johnny mick eastendersProper East End men are tough, ’ard men. They demand respect and a little bit of fear and nothing is as important to them as faaamily.

Phil Mitchell is the prime example of this. He’s a small, dense bundle of bitterness and grievance to whom being “a Mitchell” is the most important thing in the world. The “world” being an area within a half mile radius of the Queen Vic.

Danny Dyer’s Mick Carter – new landlord of the Vic, patriarch of a family that came ready-made with at least six visible members and more in the offing – seemed like Phil Mitchell Mark 2. Faaamily matters to Mick (they stick together, they look after their own etc etc). He has the stance of a boxer and under the veneer of cheeky-chappie Alfie Moon-like charm there’s a glittering seam of thuggery.

More or less from the outset we knew Mick’s son Johnny (Sam Strike) is gay, not least because he’s already enjoyed the pleasures of the lovely Danny Pennant. Johnny was at great pains to hide this from his faaamily, because he didn’t think it would go well if they knew. His mother is the oddly clingy Linda, a woman who reminds me to a disturbing extent of Norma in Bates Motel. And his father is Mick. “You know what Dad’s like,” Johnny told his sister Nancy. “He’d kill me.”

The scene was thus set either for Johnny to carry on pretending he fancied Whitney while making excuses not to go over to her house when they “would have the house to ourselves.” Or for a showdown with Mick, who would doubtless rant that “no son of his” etc etc.

What actually happened was touching and joyful – which is not a word I would normally associate with EastEnders. Even if you don’t usually watch EastEnders, watch the scene on iPlayer, from about 23 minutes in. Mick Carter’s reaction was a million miles from how Phil Mitchell reacted to his own son being gay (a fact which was neatly referred to by Shirley), and it proved that Proper East End men can be emotional and cry and be proud of their children for being honest about who they are.

The writer, Daran Little, said on Twitter the day before that “it’s the only thing I’ve ever written that’s had me in tears,” and you only have to see it to understand why.

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