Gastric bands, Macey Madness and Big Jim McDonald: Our Man In The North’s soap review of the 2014

1395713524_Les-Dennis-on-Coronation-Well what a soap year 2014 has been. EastEnders pushed its brand new Carter clan to the forefront of every storyline imaginable, culminating in a cracking Christmas crescendo while Emmerdale was at its whacky best with lakeside showdowns, suicidal cops and storage container kidnappings aplenty. Meanwhile, Corrie welcomed Ken Barlow and Kevin Webster back to the fold and triumphed with the storyline of Steve’s depression; but has been depressingly lacklustre elsewhere.
In a year where we’ve had explosions, suicides, donated sperm, secret children, identity theft, chaotic weddings, ill advised smooches, murderous looking sheep, irate Irish prisoners, devastating scars that look more like papercuts, long running (and I mean VERY long running) murder mysteries, face swapping returnees, pig thefts, schizophrenia, farming mishaps, horrific rapes, drug dramas and Norris learning to use a tablet, it is difficult to compile a list of highlights.
Nothing stops me, however, so here we go: a month by month reminder of the good, the bad and sheer nutty of 12 months in Walford, Weatherfield and the Dales. Enjoy and here’s to the next twelve months. Click below to get reading!

The ashes of Home Farm were settling in Emmerdale and Charity and Declan were harbouring a secret; namely that they were responsible for the inferno which almost fried Megan. This would be the first of a great many Macey disasters in 2014 and it all began with a kiss. Declan and Charity were now sharing a bed and it was a toxic pairing that would lead to huge trouble. Elsewhere in the Dales, Alicia tracked down sister Leyla in a lap dancing club, which is generally where all wayward soap females go after a temporary exit (Corrie’s Leanne and Kylie, EastEnders Sam Mitchell for example).
Hayley-dies-in-CorrieThere were tears aplenty in Coronation Street as the devastating story of Hayley Cropper’s last months reached an end. Drinking back a cocktail of drugs that tasted even worse than one of Anna’s lukewarm teas from downstairs, Hayley passed away in the arms of her beloved Roy in truly moving and heartbreaking scenes that would win the soap many accolades over the rest of the year. Roy without Hayley is like a beach without sand, a sky without stars or me without my sizzling good looks and he continues to suffer his great loss even to this day as poor Gary’s slightly bruised left bumcheek can attest to.
It was out with the old in Weatherfield but in with the new in Albert Square. Well the new olds anyway. Stan and Aunt Babe joined the already bursting at the seams Carter clan and both were mysterious figures in their own right. Gruff Stan had a skeleton or two but it transpired that it was softly spoken, innocent as a puppy on a cloud Aunt Babe that we really should have been wary of. Has soap provided a more wickedly complex conniver of a character this year? Elsewhere, the joy in Walford continued as poor Carol was diagnosed with cancer and David promised to be there for her. The union was destined to fail however. Just months later, Mr Wicks departed for pastures new on their wedding day, leaving legions of Carol/David shippers distraught.

The Windass/Armstrong nemesis of early 2014 was Phelan a little under the weather after Gary thumped him over the head at the builder’s yard in a scrap that would kick off another tedious plot for the terminally whingey Anna, who used to be one of my favourite characters. Phelan (sorry, just what kind of name was that anyway?) was blackmailing the family over something that I have forgotten and had started harassing Gazza’s mum, causing him to lash out. But the thud to the head would only serve to give slimy Phelan more ammunition against them. Yep, that’s right, this would drag on for months.
13_02_EMMERDALE_1ST_EP_03There were challenging times ahead for The Pollards in Emmerdale meanwhile as Val faced up to her HIV diagnosis. The Pollard marriage was in meltdown over the revelation that Val had been unfaithful abroad and Eric’s ill advised tryst with sister in law Diane. When the shock diagnosis changed Val’s life forever, both Eric and Diane came to realise that they too could be infected with the disease. Thankfully they weren’t and the Pollards ended up pulling together and becoming stronger than before in the wake of the horror. Elsewhere, Bernice’s foray into the dating game went a bit awry as Nicola and Jimmy found her chained to a hotel bed. All in a day’s work for Ms Blackstock.
Over in Walford, a face from the past gave Kat a jolt of shock when she spotted Stacey Slater on a bus.
emmerdalegemmafriAn unfortunate turn of events caused no end of misery for Belle Dingle; something which the damaged lass is still suffering from to this very day. A tussle with Gemma led to the moody friend stotting her head a wee bit; an injury which she later died from. Belle did what every soap character does in a situation like this: tried to cover her tracks. But ultimately she would be forced to confess to her sins and was arrested. The positive side? It led to the exit of Gemma’s dull dad Dom. Every cloud and all that. As one character shuffled off the mortal coil, another returned in the shape of Donna Windsor, who came armed with Marlon’s love child, the adorable April. The joy of Donna’s return was destined to be short lived sadly: the poor lass was terminally ill. But there would be no end of drama in this tale before she met her sticky end. Oh, and Paddy and Marlon were busy stealing pigs but the less said about that the better. It was all a bit hammy.
There was bad/good news for Dot (depends which way you look at it) as news reached her that cafe destroying, poisoner, motorcycle sabotaging son Nick had breathed his last. A funeral led her to meet Nick’s ex wife Mrs Doyle and a grandson she never knew she had, Charlie, who was masquerading as a copper. Oooh I say! But it was more complex still; it soon became blindingly obvious to every Walford fan that Nick wasn’t as dead as Dot was being led to believe. Meanwhile, there was yet more Jackson heartache as Carol learned she may have passed her cancer gene on to Bianca and/or Sonia while Janine got the last laugh, as she usually does, when she was acquitted at trial and set her sights on a whole new anonymous victim.
In Corrie, scheming Todd was getting to grips with Maria’s part-time homosexual boyfriend Marcus; not because he particularly liked him but because he is a bit of a spiteful so and so. Maria discovered the truth and, as her seventy eighth relationship crumbled in heartache, Marcus and Todd made a go of things. Or rather Marcus did. Todd was only interested in Marcus subbing him for drinks and nice shiny new stuff. In other Weatherfield developments, the least maternal resident, Carla, discovered she was pregnant while Peter continued to hide his affair with tanned Tina while Beth turned have a go hero and came to blows with a mugger. That’s a lesson learned that he will never forget, I’d wager.
Screen-Shot-2014-04-23-at-123301EastEnders kicked off it’s story of the year by killing off blonde bombshell Lucy Beale on Good Friday; a mystery that is still yet to be resolved. Lucy was getting herself into all kinds of troubles; not least of all finding herself on the receiving end of Max’s unexplainably irresistable loins and falling out with pal Lauren. The Beales were ripped apart as her body was discovered and the whole of Walford were under suspicion; even Lady Di, in soap’s biggest ever murder mystery. Speaking of Lady Di, she had a dramatic month of her own as she gave birth to puppies. D’awww. Talk about hatch, match and dispatch.

MORE: Lucy Murder Shock hits EastEnders
Phelan was still on the scene in Corrie (told you it dragged on) and was blackmailing Anna to sleep with him in order to prevent him from reporting Gazza to the police for his ill advised builder’s yard attack. As any woman would, given that Phelan was a fine piece of meat at any rate, Anna gave in and succumbed to his charms rather than confiding in partner Owen. It was a decision that (shock, horror!) would nearly rip her family apart when it eventually came out weeks (and weeks…) later. Elsewhere, murderer Tracy and murderer to be Rob got engaged. At this point, they were one of Corrie’s most promising and entertaining couples. By the end of the year, Rob would be gone and all of Tracy’s positive character developments would have been undone.
In Emmerdale, Charlie Stubbs, I mean James Barton, was on the wind up as he figured out that Adam was in actual fact his son and not the offspring of Moira’s deceased husband, John. This entirely expected twist didn’t succeed in making James any more interesting as he continued to huff about the place with half arsed threats that he would reveal all to Adam. Elsewhere, the infinitely more entertaining Kerry was dropping very unsubtle hints that she wanted to become Mrs Dan Spencer while Edna won £20k but even this didn’t slap a smile on her face.
Things were trying their very best to hot up in Coronation Street as Tina and Peter’s bizarre monstrosity of an affair (which nearly completely destroyed Peter’s character I may add) reached boiling point and was exposed to Carla as she prepared to marry Peter. The revelation didn’t leave Tina with very many friends but, considering her recent personality transplant, this didn’t seem to matter too much. The events that would follow would come as a surprise to no one given that Michelle Keegan’s exit was announced almost a year prior. Meanwhile, Lloyd’s fun run was anything but what it was advertised as when he collapsed with chest pains; triggering fears from daughter Jenna that he was on his way out.
downloadDouble wedding fever hit Emmerdale as Cain and Charity got married but surprisingly it was to other people. Moira was making an honest man out of the Dingle bad boy (well as honest as you can make Cain anyway) and even the spectre of James still threatening to reveal the paternity secret to Adam didn’t stop everything going ahead. Cain and Moira got hitched, creating one of my favourite Dales pairings of recent years while Charity also got wed to Declan, despite an entertaining cat fight with his sister Megan. This fight was nothing compared to what awaited the trio later in the year however. Also in Emmerdale, Priya gave birth in a car and the baby was delivered, as per soap rule, by her nemeis Alicia.
In EastEnders, we got flashbacks to the ‘You Ain’t My Muvva!’ days when it was revealed that Shirley isn’t Mick’s sister at all but actually, you guessed it, his muvva. This changed the dynamics of the Carter clan once more and gave the audience an insight to a secret we waited the remainder of the year for Mick to discover.
Things were getting dark in EastEnders as Sharon’s new venture, The Albert, became an utter nightmare for her when masked intruders burst in and attacked her, leaving her for dead. This was bad enough; until it transpired that her loving on/off lover Phil commissioned the attack. Bless; I’d hate to think what he planned for her birthday if this were his idea of a romantic surprise. A less than romantic surprise awaited Ian Beale when the ever so classy Rainie showed up on Albert Square and we soon learned that Ian had, umm, hired her services on the night which Lucy died. Cue blackmail, of course. Finally, Roxy made the unwelcome discovery that Aleks had a wife and child back home. But it was all over, honestly, guvnor. Pull the other one, Aleks pal.
Tina-McIntyreThings were equally upbeat in Coronation Street as Rob, for pretty flimsy motives I must say, lobbed Tina off of a balcony and then when she miraculously survived and got to her feet, finished her off with a metal bar to her empty head. Tina’s murder, as always in Coronation Street, led to accusations flying at everyone but the true culprit and Carla was first in the frame. The stress of this led her to suffer a devastating miscarriage and the scenes in which she broke down in hospital to her lovely friend Roy were truly well done and one of the few well played parts of an otherwise dire plotline.

MORE: UK Soaps: Where Being a Good Looking Young Female Meant Death
Bernice was opening a beauty salon in Emmerdale as everyone knows that this would do a roaring trade in a sleepy, farming settlement little bigger than a hamlet. She even had the budget to take on staff in the form of classy Kerry but the real attention was not on the business but on Bernice’s love life: she was getting to grips with Andy ‘bulging biceps’ Sugden and was caught, very unflatteringly, in the act. In other dramatic Dales developments, relations between Donna and Ross heated up to a genuinely sizzling scale while Belle was found guilty of manslaughter so that Eden Taylor Draper could do her exams and Adam was toting a shotgun when he found out boring James is his dad. Who can blame him?
Things were being camped up a bit in Emmerdale as Kerry and Dan’s Las Vegas themed wedding took place. It was as deliciously trashy as one would come to expect from the year’s funniest character, Kerry, but a genuine shock was delivered at the end of proceedings when an ex of Kerry’s arrived and revealed that she was already married. Meanwhile, over at Home Farm, Victoria Pendleton and Jimmy King had a spark (of course) much to Nicola’s jealousy and Adam’s antics saw Andy nearly lose one of his massive arms in an agricultural machinery accident. How would he have carried a bale of hay under each arm then!?
eastenderspatrickIn EastEnders, acting stalwart Rudolph Walker proved exactly what he is capable of as a thespian when Walford aired a new story which followed Patrick in the immediate aftermath of suffering a stroke. As someone with a relative who lives with the after effects of a stroke, I was impressed by the spot on performances delivered by Mr Walker and continue to be as EastEnders maintain very good continuity of the storyline to this day. What else was happening in Walford? Let me think. Oh Tiffany took hash cakes into school. Obvs.
Peter was arrested for Tina’s murder in Corrie in full view of distraught son Simon who surely someday is going to need some severe counselling. The Corrie locals, as always, were quick to judge, but one person knew the truth about what happened that night. Rob would spend the next few months very shiftily covering his tracks and planning a wedding to fellow homicidal maniac Tracy Barlow. Meanwhile, Lloyd’s latest relationship seemed destined to hit the skids as he discovered that Andrea was actually married. She eventually chose Lloyd, triggering an entertaining, then odd, then utterly tedious stalking campaign from Neil which comprised of everything from clowns being tricked to Tim being stuck on a roof while his ladder was stolen. Better best forgotten.

MORE: Peter Barlow’s Prison Diary
Hooray! Ken Barlow was back where he belonged and he was determined to get everything in this murder mess sorted good and proper. He immediately held Rob under suspicion while he also insisted that Peter pulled himself together instead of moping in prison. He had a decent reason to mope, to be fair: he had come face to face with Jim McDonald in prison, so he had, and this was a friendship that would turn awry very quickly. Having both Ken and Jim back and soon to be Kevin too was a treat for viewers however and some of the best scenes of the year in Weatherfield took place as Ken whisked Deirdre to Wales where they were chased by cattle and Deirdre had a very unique face off with a sheep. Genius. In other Corrie hilarity, Tyrone fell through the floor. Not because he’d eaten too much of Fiz’s pie (don’t go there) but due to the shoddy workmanship courtesy of Tony the Tank and his snivelly sidekick Todd on the building work.

MORE: Ken makes a big return to chaotic Corrie!
Emmerdale_spoilers__Donna_dies_in_a_fatal_fall___new_Verity_Rushworth_interviewEmmerdale had really upped the ante as the superb Donna storyline reached a huge climax, complete with car chases, police busts and rooftop showdowns. The huge energy that was her spark with Ross literally exploded as her world came crashing down, leading her to sacrifice herself for the greater good and throw herself with evil North from a high rise building. Meanwhile, there was a different type of high octane action for Vanessa as she spent the night with Kirin, who turned out to be her new 17 year old neighbour. In fairness, they have lasted this far. Finally, Ashley had begun to realise that he was falling for Harriet, several months after the rest of us did.
Over in Walford, Ian’s attempts to hide his secret liasion with Rainie landed Mick Carter in the hottest of water when he ended up being arrested for kerb crawling. This led to a slight blip in relations with Linda, of whom Dean took advantage of and planted a kiss on. She made it very clear that her heart would always lie with Mick however and the couple overcame the arrest. Meanwhile, Jean was back on the scene and determined to secure Stacey’s release from prison having evidently seen how easy it can be from Corrie’s Tracy while Kat gave birth to Bert and Ernie; very apt names for babies fathered by a total muppet.
emmerdaleEmmerdale’s crazy month was everything we had dreamed of in soap whackiness and more. Declan and Charity’s scheming against eachother led to a poisoning plot which nearly finished off bratty Noah. Megan was blamed for trying to kill off Charity but the true culprit was closer to home. Defending herself with a meat tenderising hammer, Charity escaped a now psychotic Declan and did what any sane escapee would do: took to a lake in a dinghy. A tense showdown saw poor Robbie take a flare to the chest and end up in a watery grave while Charity slammed an anchor over Declan’s head. Of course, this wasn’t the end. He turned up once more and held everyone at gunpoint before exposing Charity’s framing of Rachel and various over misdeeds to her family. In other less exciting news, Andy and Katie decided to get married. Kind of overshadowed by your ex there a bit, eh Katie?

MORE: Emmerdale’s Biggest Week!
EastEnders was almost as insane too as the ever intelligent Alfie Moon decided that the solution to his money problems was to set fire to his house. As he did so, he hadn’t realised that wife Kat was sleeping off her drunkenness upstairs and ended up trapped in the blaze. The subsequent explosion saw Kat scarred and mopey Alfie feeling a tad guilty. Meanwhile, in the run up to Sharon and Phil’s wedding, Shirley was convinced that she and her Potato Headed lover were going to live happily ever after but when this didn’t quite transpire the way she had hoped, she exposed their affair to Sharon. We also got a very camp cameo appearance from Peggy Mitchell, a reappearance from the absent Ronnie and Ben returned with another new face. Don’t worry though, he was still as infuriating as ever. With all of these arrivals and returns it was inevitable someone had to go to create space. Bye, Bianca.

MORE: EastEnders Wedding Woes!

In Coronation Street, Max was diagnosed the David Platt Syndrome or, as it’s more commonly known, ADHD. The pills appeared to modify his behaviour positiviely (not sure what message this gives out) and Kylie, with all the stress she was under, decided it might be a good idea to start sneakily taking the tablets herself. Turned out that it wasn’t so bright after all. There were further false allegations of crime too as Amy claimed that Eccles had attacked her.
video-undefined-21E2F58900000578-125_636x358The EastEnders wedding madness culminated in Phil being pierced by another bullet, officially making him the closest human in the world to a piece of swiss cheese. Shirley, having fired the shot, went on the run with the help of criminal mastermind come trifle chef Aunt Babe which left Dean distraught that his mum had done a flit and left him in the lurch. Well meaning Linda tried to be there for Dean, leading to some horrendously dark scenes which saw the mixed up lad commit a devastating sexual attack on her in the show’s most powerful plot of the year. It led to some standout performances during the month from Kellie Bright. Elsewhere, we all knew it was going to happen at some point soon. Charlie found his dad Nick sitting in the kitchen. A discarded cigarette in a swiss roll soon led Dot to realise that only one person would be cruel enough to destroy cake in such a manner and she was reunited with her not so dead son.

MORE: EastEnders’ Longest (And Darkest) Day
In Coronation Street, Peter stood trial and was, of course, found guilty by a soap standard jury who clearly hadn’t been tuned into ITV for months. Or years, given that anyone that stands trial in Corrie is generally not the true culprit. As the month went on however, Carla’s digging led Rob to finally confess and he fled his wedding to Tracy before later being arrested when his bride dobbed him in it. Cilla also returned, much more toned down than we remember her and actually likeable. Much more likeable than Foghorn Fiz who thankfully followed when Cilla’s visit came to an end. Don’t hurry back now. Take as much maternity leave as you need.

MORE: Corrie Trial Drama for Carla
In Emmerdale Charity’s misfortune continued as Jai locked her up in a storage container until she divulged the location of Archie and Sam, upon discovering Charity’s location following a staircase scuffle with Jai, decided to leave her to rot in her own faeces. (I assume anyway, where else would she have gone to the toilet; this was never addressed.) Cain eventually rescued her in the nick of time, and Charity moved from Debbie’s to the Dingles to Moira’s, none of whom really wanted her around. We also welcomed the White family, led by enigmatic Lawrence and followed by his delightfully posh and foxy daughter Chrissie and his weird grandson Lachlan. Completing the package was Robert Sugden, who had returned to his blonde roots and was welcomed back by brother Andy with a right hook.

MORE: Ever wish you didn’t wake up, Jai?

download (1)Coronation Street further explored Steve’s growing depression as it became clearer and clearer that the rubber faced cab office owner was far from his usual self in his behaviour towards everyone; not least of all his girlfriend Michelle. He lost significant interest in everything and the writing and performances surrounding the story were fantastic throughout. Elsewhere, Kylie met up with her ex Callum as her drugs needs spiralled ever further out of control while Les Dennis worried about his dodgy heart and Todd received a cut to the eye causing his family to forgive his year of despicable behaviour.

MORE: Why Steve McDonald’s Depression is an important story
EastEnders took a different tactic with November and actually gave a storyline to the Carters, which had been largely unheard of over 2014. Mick and Dean tracked Shirley down to a caravan and towed her home, only to be greeted by a fist swinging cheeky chap by the name of Buster. There were no flies on Dean; he soon had it figured out that Buster was actually his dad but what he didn’t quite guess was that Buster was Mick’s father too. Fertile Buster had evidently been busy sowing the Carter seeds back in the day but further discussion was prevented when he was arrested for breaking his bail, scarpering Shirley’s bizarre plans to go on the run with him. In other Carter news, Linda discovered that she was pregnant and was tormented over whether to keep the child while the lads and ladies of Walford got their pecs n paps out for a charity calendar.
Belle was welcomed back to the Dingle fold but there was clearly something not quite right with the lass before long. Lachlan developed a bit of a thing for her but when incidents such as window smashings and graffiti began to occur, he became the prime suspect. Elsewhere, recent problems involving Jimmy and a long lost love child born of his donated sperm caused issues for him and Nicola.

MORE: Hell’s Belle!
soaps-eastenders-mick-carter-attacks-dean-wicks-1EastEnders culminated months of secret build ups in a truly astonishing Christmas episode for the Carters as Mick finally learned what Dean had put Linda through before also realising that his sister was actually his mother. Meanwhile the Lucy Beale murder case continued to gather momentum as Emma Summerhayes did all sorts of digging and guilt started cropping up all over the shop. Sonia collapsed after having a gastric band fitted meaning another old character with a new face, Martin, reappeared while Tosh’s violence against Tina finally meant she had gone too far, leading to her exile from Walford. Good riddance.
In Emmerdale, the death of Donna continued to haunt poor April but Marlon was beginning to let Ross spend time with her, which appeared to help her heal. Lush Laurel, in between downing wine and getting police convictions for drink driving, tried to take the moral high ground for her own selfish reasons. Elsewhere, Katie and Andy married despite interjections from a drunk wannabe bridezilla Bernice and the odious but entertaining Robert who, by now, was regularly getting to grips with Aaron. Jai proposed to Megan and, much like the union of Charity and Declan last year, I predict this to be in spectacular ruins by the time I write next year’s review.
Finally to Corrie, where Kylie’s dire drugs drama led her to being booted out by David and Roy was whacking Gary about with his cricket bat. December was best a month to be forgotten in Coronation Street so I’ll go no further except to say that I hope 2015 returns Corrie to where its meant to be: as the nation’s top soap.

MORE: Review of a Soapy Christmas in 2014
Many thanks for reading and supporting my work over 2014 and I wish everyone a happy and healthy start to the brand new year. Can’t wait to see what I can bitch about in 2015! Cheers.

Your new year’s resolution is to follow me on Twitter here:
Written By Our Man In The North

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