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EastEnders: Farewell, Fat Pat

The demise of the beloved Fat Pat was both swift and agonisingly slow. Swift because, although she’d had a few dodgy moments with the old ticker, it wasn’t until a doctor officially told her she officially had cancer that she started to go downhill fast. So fast, in fact, that I’m entirely put off doctors. They can apparently kill you just by telling you you’re not well. Pat went from her usual lumbering round the Square under the weight of enormous earrings and the cares of the world, to slumping over the kitchen sink sporting the finest blue rings around her eyes a makeup artist has achieved since Night of the Living Dead.

Yet her actual death seemed to take forever. It was the longest hour of my life. The scriptwriters had apparently decided that Pam St Clement was due at least an Oscar, if not an All About Soap Bubble Award, for her moving and gritty portrayal of a woman expiring from The Big C (which, in Bianca’s interpretation, seemed to stand for Complications. Anyone enquiring about Pat’s health would be informed by Bianca that it was “’Er ‘eart. And… Complications”).

Pat refused to take her death lying down, and insisted on getting up to put the kettle on. “Pat!” everyone admonished her. “You should be resting!” Pat didn’t want to rest. Pat wanted a nice cuppa, or preferably gin. You can’t blame her, really.

The entire neighbourhood called by, ostensibly to pay their respects, but mainly to work out their own personal issues via the medium of Literally Staring Death In The Face. Tanya obviously found it an upsetting experience, both because Pat is one of the few people in Walford with a worse reputation than she has and because she, too, is suffering from The Big C. Derek Branning called in to be even more horrible than usual, and Dot had some kind words and a Bible so Pat wouldn’t go to the hereafter unprepared. Janine, still filled with the spirit of Christmas, popped round to repossess Pat’s house, but even she was forced to reveal her softer side when Pat told her she was the only daughter she’d ever known (erm, what about Diane, proudly displayed in a photo frame adjacent to Pat’s bedside?). Ian popped in for a blub, and Bianca spent a lot of the episode looming around the door frame looking like she had even more Complications than Pat.

And everyone was uttering the D word. Not death – not in front of the kids – but David, as in Wicks, as in the son of Pat, the father of Bianca, and the actor known as Michael French who plays Nick Jordan in Casualty. Every knock on the door, every approaching car, every close up of a shoe – surely this must be him? Nope, it’s Michael Moon. That one’s Ricky. Oh, it’s Ian back again. But finally – the Wicks who was never known as Wicksy (that was Our Simon) turned up. He was introduced to his grandchildren, but poor Whitney was left to introduce herself – presumably no-one could quite work out how to explain her. After a heart to heart with his dear old mum he decided he couldn’t ‘andle it and it took quite a tussle in the rain from Carol to get him to come back indoors, so Pat could die in his arms.

And she even had her own theme tune at the end.

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Eastenders: You’ve been framed!

Doesn’t Lucas watch Coronation Street? If he did, he’d see that it’s never a good idea to order somebody flowers and pretend it’s from their dead relative (whom they think is still alive). They’ll find out eventually, and then you’ll have some explaining to do. Lucas has been caught out on a florist’s CCTV ordering flowers to be sent from someone he murdered earlier.

As a recent convert to Eastenders, my knowledge of who Lucas killed and why is somewhat sketchy (mainly gleaned from phone calls to my parents, in between news about the dog’s health and petty crime in the area). What I do know is that Sugar the dog got a bit too close to digging up Something Nasty in the Square, and Lucas had to make Sugar disappear as well.

The fun thing about Lucas (as a character) is that he’s the local Man of God, being a Pentecostal preacher and all. But his soul currently very much belongs to the man downstairs.

Elsewhere on the Square, Ian Beale had a cunning psychological tactic to persuade schoolgirl daughter Lucy that carrying on with her pregnancy and giving the baby to him and his wife Jane to bring up wasn’t the greatest plan. Promising a cosy family night around the telly, he popped out for fish and chips and a DVD, the DVD being of his employee Marie giving birth. It’s safe to assume that Lucy’s brother Peter has been scarred for life (and probably put off chips forever) by the experience, but it had a different effect on everyone else. Ian and Jane became all tearful about the miracle of birth, and Lucy, after pausing to throw up, calmly commented that she’d seen worse birth videos at school. The lesson she took from this one was to demand all the drugs the hospital offered.

Young people, eh? While Lucy was getting to grips with major life decisions, outside in the Square those Balham types who hang around with Billy Jackson were busy spraying graffiti on the Arthur Fowler Memorial Bench. This is absolute sacrilege, and the sooner they get back to Sarf London the better.

In the flat above the Queen Vic, two old queens were glumly contemplating the fact that they’re redundant from the pub they love. Roxy understandably can’t quite cope with the bust of Queen Victoria being in the pub any longer, what with it being the object that killed her father and everything. And Peggy Mitchell can’t cope with being in a pub full of loud, young people who laugh at her cowboy outfit. But in the midst of strife, a hero will appear, and Danny, Archie’s son, has promised to help the two old dears regain their rightful place.

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Eastenders live: Edge of the seat stuff

Great big pats on the back to everyone involved with the live Eastenders episode last night. Apart from the occasional verbal fluff, and a couple of focusing issues with the cameras, it all went off absolutely smoothly, and the climax was a total shocker, as promised.

They hadn’t taken the easy route, either. As well as large ensemble scenes in the pub, there was a violent rampage by Phil Mitchell (does anyone cringe as effectively as Ian Beale?), rooftop stunt work, and some intense acting. I’d like to single out Samantha Womack for particular praise – her character Ronnie had to tell her sister that she’d been raped by their father. Not an easy scene to play in ordinary times, but with the added pressure of doing it live it must have been incredibly difficult, and she was excellent.

The final scenes, with Bradley falling from the roof and Stacey, Max and Jack desperately trying to get to him, must have been technically so hard to pull off, but it was all done seamlessly. And I don’t think many people had worked out that Stacey was the killer (my money was on Peggy).

In a neat touch, Ian and Dot watched a video that Ian had found in the time capsule he dug up, ensuring that Den and Ange, Kathy, Nasty Nick, Pete, Pauline, Arthur, Frank etc etc all made their appearance in this landmark episode.

Over on BBC3, the inept George Lamb was live on the set to present the “aftermath.” Charlie Clements was obviously emotional – it was his last episode, and what a way to bow out of a programme. There were lots of people in headphones high-fiving each other and hugging in the background, as well they might.

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Eastenders: Way to celebrate a jubilee

Last night’s hour-long Eastenders episode was brilliant stuff. Two weddings simultaneously (Ricky and Bianca in all their chav finery, and Bradley and Stacey quietly in a registry office with only a parent each in attendance) and there was a  constant thud of plot bombs being dropped every few minutes.

There was so much going on that it was hard to keep pace with it all. I loved Billy Mitchell frantically gesturing at the wedding car to take another turn around the block while everyone figured out what to do about the sudden presence of Bianca’s (severely estranged) mother, and Bianca refusing to wait. “I’m nervous! I want to go in!” she said, hutching up her wedding gown and stomping towards the church. Scenes between Lindsay Coulson and Patsy Palmer were always brilliant – there’s some actorly chemistry between the two that makes them totally believable as a mother and daughter – and they were just as good last night.

Elsewhere, Janine was released from police custody due to lack of serious evidence, and turned up in the Square like an avenging angel to disrupt the wedding celebrations and point accusing fingers at assorted Brannings and Mitchells.

Becca let slip to Ronnie that Archie had raped Stacey, who was now pregnant with his child, not Bradley’s. Except, Ronnie told her, Archie wasn’t able to have more children following chemotherapy several years ago. So whose baby is it?

Shirley, who really had made an effort to look fluffy and femine for the wedding (still all in black, but throw on a few sequins and a trilby and she could pass for female on a dark night), had almost forgiven Phil for the other day when she found Sonia in his bed, but when she saw him give Sonia a peck on the cheek as he popped her into a cab back to Martin Fowler, she was having none of his (genuine) protestations of innocence. She’s going to tell the police that the alibi she gave for Phil was all made up.

Ronnie finally flipped, rather understandably, at the sight of her late father staring in her front room window every time she opens the curtains, and went out and threw a can of red paint all over the offending image.

So the stage is set for an absolute cracker of a live episode tonight. I can’t wait.

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