UK Soaps: A year where being a beautiful young woman meant death

EmmerdaleAnyone who is anyone in the UK British soap magazine world knows that today, the results of the Inside Soap Awards 2014 are revealed, about half a year since they were launched. I call them the Inside Soap Awards 2014, but I prefer to know them as ‘The ‘Which Soap has the most dedicated multi-voting fans awards 2014.’

Either way, it’s got me thinking (dangerous stuff, I know) about the last year in the world of soap. Here, I reflect on a year of underwater escapades, murders of beautiful young women, collapsing attic floors, rooftop death dramas, dramatic house fires and Steve McDonald.

I know, given the fact that I write here about all soaps, that I should display some degree of impartiality, but I’ll openly declare that I have mostly voted Emmerdale this year. So, that’s as good a place to start as any. It’s been a blockbuster year in Britain’s most eventful village and not a leek show in sight. Instead of village fetes and sheep shearing, we’ve seen armed sieges, rooftop plunges and Charity Macey getting slapped about the chops with her husband’s meat tenderiser.  

In a 12 month period which started with an underwater death, as crazed Cameron was electrocuted in a flooded Woolpack cellar, it seemed apt that it finished with a watery demise too. Luckless Robbie Lawson was pounded on the chest by a flare and sent into the depths of a lake as Charity and Declan had possibly the most violent marriage breakup of all time.

In between, things have been equally insane. Donna was back for a visit which comprised of a surprise lovechild for Marlon, a confession of a killer disease, a passionate affair with the local bad boy, police corruption and drugs raids and a double death from a high roof. Just an average visit to the Dales all in all. Donna was looking to secure a financially sound future for her daughter April but it was all in vain as Marlon torched the earnings that led to two deaths regardless.

Nevertheless, it gave the writers and actors, particularly Verity Rushworth and Michael Parr, a chance to show what Emmerdale really is made of and some genuinely emotional performances rocked the audience to the core. This was real, to-the-bone drama and proved that, when it comes down to the big episodes, no one can do it quite like Emmerdale.

Over in Coronation Street, popular characters were getting killed off just as frequently, as a particularly grim year kicked off Hayley-dies-in-Corriewith the devastating demise of Hayley Cropper. There was always only one way the Croppers would part from eachother, so a death episode was inevitable when Julie Hesmandhalgh decided to move on from the Cobbles. We were gifted (and also forced to endure) some of television’s most heartbreaking scenes as Roy and Hayley prepared for the curtain call, and people across the country are still drying their eyes over it to this very day.

Hayley wasn’t the only Weatherfield female shuffling off this mortal coil. Perma-tanned Tina was tossed from a balcony by Rob Donovan as they bickered over… actually I forgot why. But that happened anyway. Luckily she survived another ten minutes (allowing Michelle Keegan an extra episode’s pay) until Rob caved her head in with a metal bar to finish the job. Months of furtively anxious looks from Rob have followed as both Carla and then Peter have been forced to carry the can for his crime. It’s a story that has allowed Alison King to shine as the alpha female of Coronation Street, but has also surprisingly added several layers to former panto villain Tracy Barlow, who has become a strangely likeable character in recent months.

It’s not all been gloom for the Barlows. Ken was back in the fold at last, and promptly swooped Deirdre off to the holiday of a lifetime in a Welsh field. After a particularly sinister looking sheep and a bull attack, Deirdre had had her fill of the countryside air, but it was great to see Ken and Deirdre back together. In the past year, Deirdre has developed as a worthy daughter of acid tongued Blanche, and has been established as one of the show’s best comedy characters.

Meanwhile, Tyrone fell through his attic floor, which led to Todd being odious, Tony being threatening, Fiz being uncharacteristically LOUD and Jason being Jason.  Leanne continued her flit between the men of Weatherfield, ditching brain damaged husband Nick for brain numbing laugh a minute Kal. This prompted a bitter divorce battle which led to a smashing time at everyone’s favourite Bistro. And as if that weren’t a thrill enough, we were treated to the arrival of Les Dennis and some sickening fawning from his new squeeze Gail.

Corrie has most certainly been a mixed bag. It has nailed its top stories and provided consistent humour at the same time, particularly from the likes of Mad Mary and the rubber faced legend that is Steve, but there has also been a great deal of the mundane in quieter periods that have lacked the usual Corrie magic. Emmerdale and EastEnders have particularly excelled at holding back surprises from viewers, which adds a great deal to the viewing experience. Where Corrie is concerned, aspects like the exits of Tina, Rob and Peter have been announced almost a year in advance, so everything that has happened hasn’t been unexpected.

Over in the uplifting metropolis of Walford, a local beauty was bumped off too, as lighthead Lucy was mercilessly slayed. It is still some significant time before we discover who was behind this dreadful deed, but there have been plenty of twists and intrigue to keep us occupied along the way. In particular, Adam Woodyatt’s performances as the long suffering Ian, have been exceptional.

We have also had the introduction and subsequent domination of the Carter family, which has given one of my favourite characters Shirley, played by the brilliant Linda Henry, a new lease of life. Strangely for me, and pointing out that Tosh doesn’t count as a Carter, there isn’t a character in this clan that I dislike and they have brought some new oomph to the show that had been greatly lacking last year. While it’s still a fine line between Carter domination and Carter overload, EastEnders continues to get it right at the moment on that score and I’m looking forward to the dramatic and emotional scenes coming up with their latest dark story. If they pack as much of a punch as the scene where Johnny came out to father, Mick, then we have nothing to worry about.

soaps-eastenders-4850-6Speaking of stunning performances, Lindsey Coulson has excelled herself during Carol’s cancer storyline and delivered the gripping, powerful drama that once made EastEnders the best soap on television. Not so impressive, as always, have been the show’s attempts at comedy. While the one liners and snide bitchiness can be seriously entertaining, the comedy routines should be left to the Corrie gang and EastEnders should continue to focus on the raw grittiness that has always led the show in its successful periods.

There will be gongs handed out to the victors in tonight’s ceremony and, while some of the stars will get justifiable recognition, many will not. So this post is in honour of those unsung soap heroes that continue to provide top class television all year round. Here’s to the next year. Can’t wait to see who drowns in Emmerdale next September.

Who do you want to pick up the prizes at the Inside Soap Awards? What have been your highlights and lowlights of the soap year? Let me know, using the comments box below. Results will be live tweeted from my Twitter account. If you don’t follow yet shame on you, but here is the link: https://twitter.com/Our_manPLA

Posted By Our Man In The North

5 Comments

Filed under Coronation Street, EastEnders, Emmerdale

5 responses to “UK Soaps: A year where being a beautiful young woman meant death

  1. Excellent summary. I totally agree with you about the amount of pre-publicity Corrie gives to storylines, though. They don’t seem to have the balance between letting us know Something Big is coming and totally giving away what that Something Big is going to be.

  2. Michael H

    I’m looking forward to seeing which Dingle woman lamps a bloke in self-defence next autumn, and thinks she’s killed him. For the fourth year running. My money’s on Belle.

    Loved the article. Balanced and very fair.

  3. But Michael, Belle has already accidentally killed someone this year! 😉

    Re Corrie: It doesn’t seem worth watching at all at the moment, as I already know everything that’s going to happen before it unfolds. Deirdre and Steve keep me watching though

    • Last night’s Corrie was hilarious – the Dev/Julie/Mary scenes were so well written. While they still have writers like Jonathan Harvey it’ll still be worth watching. I love the Platts and I love Sally. The thing that’s nearly had me turning off recently is the tedious Jim McDonald, King of the Wing story.

  4. Yes the Julie/Dev/Mary stuff strangely works doesn’t it. And Jim’s not so bad, so he’s not. Cheerio Now.

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