Akin to over indulging in turkey, chocolates, Christmas pud and that ninth unnecessary glass of Baileys, Christmas Day is a time of an exhausting deluge of soaps. In exchange for making us sit through three whole hours of it (and if you’re a Downton Abbey fan, you’ll have been nursing square eyes on Boxing Day), we are assured that the episodes will be worth it by delivering epic festive drama, warmth, disaster and surprises by the bucket load.
If we’re going to be giving up our precious Christmas evenings (hey, I’m a busy man, I got a drinking game of Jenga as a gift) then the soaps should be pulling out all of the stops. It is an annual tradition that soaps pull out their big guns on the 25th December after all but this year has given us a bit of a mixed bag with my usual favourite Coronation Street falling disastrously flat while EastEnders lived up to it’s huge trailers and beyond, leaving me tired with so many family twists exploding out of the woodwork. Let’s take a closer (and, bitchier) look at what the three main shows had to offer…
Emmerdale: Bernice sleeps with Santa and Katie’s wedding ring calls her the village bike
In an unusual tradition for Emmerdale, a couple had chosen to get married on Christmas Day (it was a whole year since this had happened), well and truly stealing Jesus’ thunder. It was Andy ‘wife beater’ Sugden and Katie ‘village bike’ Addyman’s second attempt at this whole matrimony thing and, much like last time, Andy’s spiteful brother Robert was an unwelcome spectre over proceedings albeit with a different face.
The siblings had been scrapping on their parent’s graves with one of them dressed as Geri Halliwell the previous night (keep it classy lads) so it was fair to say that relations between them weren’t exactly great on the day of the wedding. However, Robert’s bit of rough, Aaron, was on hand to give his part time nemesis and part time lover some words of advice that his ongoing venomous attitude is affecting his lil sister Victoria and so he offered full apologies to be taken back under Andy’s bulging bicep of a wing again.
Bernice, one of my favourite Emmerdale characters, meanwhile had just woken up after emptying Santa’s sack the previous night and was a tad mortified. The best way to chase away her embarrassment, thought she, was to down a bottle of whisky, steal Katie’s dress and turn up at the congregated church (which, by the way, perma-bride Katie has a bit of a cheek getting married in AGAIN) and beg Andy to marry her instead. This didn’t work out too well for poor Bernice and further disaster was to follow when her ample bosom became lodged in the dress.
Katie finally made it up the aisle and things went swimmingly for a whole minute. My favourite part was Katie’s vow that said, without any hint of irony, that she didn’t regret any of her mistakes (which one? Sleeping with her husband’s brother, getting involved with a killer cop, driving down a mineshaft or her neverending war with Declan?) as they always brought her back to Andy. In other words Andy, no matter how crap things get, she knows you’re dumb, desperate and boring enough to always take her back.
One of Robert’s mature pranks which involved him having the phrase ‘village bike’ engraved into Katie’s ring came back to haunt him but, despite this hilarious and frankly honest setback, the Sugdens were united in matrimony once more. Hooray! With Katie leaving soon, however, disaster must surely be looming. Double hooray!
Christmas rumbled on elsewhere in the Dales, as Laurel was uncharacteristically selfish (snort) and continued to put her own needs before that of a grieving child. She did eventually relent and let Ross in to make wee April’s day but expected neverending praise for such a kind deed. Meanwhile, covering up the mysterious disappearance of his child’s mother was getting Jai all romantic as he gushed to Megan that they were like a little family now before popping the question. And Belle was chasing away her own demons by taking a legal high with a can of cheap imitation cola. This left her feeling blissful as Gemma’s voice temporarily disappeared. So, Merry Christmas then…kind of.
Coronation Street: Kylie’s kicked out and even Steve’s efforts can’t save a mundane Corrie Christmas
Over Christmas and Boxing Day we were subjected to two whole hours of the dreary writing we’ve come to expect from 2014 Coronation Street.
Gary Windass, for some inexplicable reason, had been ostracised by his entire family for the unforgiveable Hitler-esque sin of…uhh, finding a girlfriend. Any criticisms against the lad were invalidated immediately by strumpet Katy calling him a homewrecker. Shame no one bought her a black pot and kettle for Christmas. This meant that he was made very unwelcome at the Armstrong and Windasshole household for a very uncomfortable Christmas which led him to kick a box in anger. Sadly, Faye had left her brand new headphones lying on the floor and they ended up broken.
Rather than letting this be a lesson to Faye about looking after expensive possessions properly, this made Gary the year’s Ebenezer Scrooge and he was left alone for Christmas in the most bizarrely written plot of recent Corrie I can remember for, oh…at least a week. Why is Owen so violently angry at Gary? Why isn’t Anna defending her son who has clearly not really done aything wrong? Why is no one telling Katy that it’s inadvisable for a whore to throw stones in glass brothels?
With these questions requiring a swift but not forthcoming answer, the storyline linked to Roy’s which was remembered just in time for a random Boxing Day ‘drama’ which looked for like a pinata whacking at a Mexican kids party. The thugs who were tormenting Roy suddenly reappeared from nowhere and spent their Boxing Day bullying the ‘weirdo’ with the most cliche yob lines taken from a very bad 1980s anti bullying VHS tape. Holing himself up in his home, Roy was alerted to bumbling Gary raiding the empty till. Roy chased Gary out and thumped his bum a couple of times relatively softly with a clearly foam bat and Sinead screamed the Street down as if the violent menace come cafe owner had murdered a schoolyard full of children.
Gary was clearly fine, but that didn’t stop Sinead giving an account to the police that read just like Corrie’s press release: i.e it made the whole embarrassing scene sound way more exciting than it actually was. In a repeat of Eileen and her scarred (very faintly cut) for life son Todd, Anna was now guilty about chucking her son out of the family.
Weatherfield police reacted swiftly and with the overreaction you’d expect; deciding to keep Roy, a clearly vulnerable prisoner, in a cell overnight. I know police forces are generally portrayed as being inept, but there is no way in this world that that would ever have happened in real life. They would have bailed him. Quite what the purpose of holding Roy overnight was other than to make Corrie easy fodder for us TV Critics is beyond me.
Elsewhere, Steve was doing all that he could to make Amy’s Christmas a merry one, by emptying a beanbag out of a window to imitate snow. Michelle took an invite up to the bedroom a little literally, causing Steve to reject her. While Steve was fussing over Amy, her mother had other things on her mind; namely playing mind games with Don Tony, the wannabe Phil Mitchell of Weatherfield. She was flirting and smooching at him and back to the cringey self she was when she returned a few years back. Nice to see character development undone in such a way.
Corrie were recycling plots elsewhere and I am not just talking Sally and Maddie having mashed potato fights in homeless shelters again (guys, it wasn’t funny first time). The Platts had ANOTHER family showdown on Christmas Day as Callum turned up for no real legitimate reason and revealed himself to David. They had an epic fight that was almost as sensational as Carla pushing Tracy onto a box a few weeks back before David chucked Kylie out. Yep, the psychotic, street trashing, car crashing, brain damage giving, peanut throwing darling was taking the moral high ground again and telling Kylie she wasn’t fit to look after her kids. Rather than talking things through, Kylie accepted David’s somewhat unreasonable request that she left. After all, Paula Lane’s bump couldn’t be hidden any longer.
Finally, the traditional Corrie ‘humour’ came from the insufferable Nazirs. Alya had bought Sharif chickens for Christmas (not sure why, this was never established) and this led to some hilarious antics of the most inane family on the Street chasing poultry around the garden. Oh, how we all laughed. Note to producers: if the chickens are meant to be like Jack Duckworth’s pigeons, this will not work. Yasmeen and Sharif will never be the Duckworths. I’d sooner have Fiz and Tyrone try that one and that really is saying something.
Oh, and as if there wasn’t enough ridiculous material to fit in, Nick suddenly discovered that no one in Manchester can man a bar other than Leanne, so rehired her on her conditions that she can redecorate his entire business AND become the manager. And he actually agreed to this. He even threw in a bottle of champagne. Who is writing this crap and what have they done with the actual Coronation Street team? We need them back and pronto.
EastEnders: Unwanted Presents under the tree for Cindy and Nick’s one way ticket doesn’t go to plan. Oh, and some stuff happened with Mick Carter.
Developments in the murder mystery of a young woman, long lost relatives with Alzheimers surprising their dying ex husbands, a man discovering that the chap who raped his wife is his brother – and a partridge in a pear tree. It was another joyous Yuletide in Walford but I shamelessly loved every minute of the melodrama.
Of course, the drama centred, as always, on EastEnders’ new favourite family the Carters, who, by promising a Christmas we’ll never forget, automatically sealed their doom. If they thought their biggest problem was Sylvie Carter rocking up and putting Cora’s nose out of joint, then they ain’t seen nuffink yet.
Linda was still battling with the terrible secret that mixed up Dean had raped her and he had seemed to have convinced even himself that it was a consensual act between the two of them. His threats ringing in her ears, Linda felt more isolated than ever but, when Mick proposed to her, she could hide her demons no longer and tearfully came clean about what she had been through.
It was a powerful and emotional scene, nailed by the titans of powerhouse acting Danny Dyer and Kellie Bright, undisputably along with Linda Henry, EastEnders’ biggest assets. I am not ashamed to admit that the sequence had me in tears and the tension in the family was huge. The scene exploded when Dean made the inadvisable move of turning up at the Vic, to be greeted by a furious Mick who unleashed the anger that 8 million odd viewers have been feeling for months. He was stopped in his tracks by yet another Carter bombshell as Shirley cried for him to leave him alone as he is his brother. The pieces fitted into place as if this were a Carter ‘Who Do You Think You Are’ special- that meant that Shirley was his mum.
This left a massive divide in the family. Loyal but misguided mum Shirley has chosen to believe her son Dean’s version of his night with Linda and this means that Mick wants nothing to do with her. Meanwhile, everything that poor Stan thought that he knew about his family had disintergrated as he tried to digest the truth that Mick was not actually his boy. Meanwhile, Mick himself lost all control and smashed up the Queen Vic in hugely powerful scenes that utterly triumphed Babs Windsor’s camp Chrimbo Vic trashing scenes from a few years back. This was proper, hardcore drama that EastEnders does best. It hasn’t been this good for a long time.
Elsewhere, the Beale and Branning Christmas got off to several awkward starts, firstly with Ian trying to show off to Max and then with a possession of Lucy’s being wrapped up for Beth. This left a sour taste round the dinner table as the murder of Lucy was back at the forefront of everyone’s mind and Emma in particular was keen to keep digging as she tried to persuade Lauren to allow her to take evidence of her being at Lucy’s to the police. Max had other ideas though. Speaking of murderers, Ronnie was contemplating another New Year bloodfest when Nick failed in his promise to get gone despite being given the money he asked for. But which of these two killers will come out on top in this feud? And will the scenes be any more horrific than Nasty Nick naked on a sofa with Mrs Doyle? I doubt it.
How did you enjoy the soaps over Christmas? What were your highlights and lowlights? Let me know your thoughts in the usual way by commenting below or follow me on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/Our_manPLA
Written By Our Man In The North