I’m constantly amazed at how good EastEnders is. Though there are still too many tedious scenes involving superannuated beetroot-faced thug Phil Mitchell, or Ronnie and Roxie bleating “you’re my sister and I love you” at each other every five minutes, there’s also brilliant drama like the current baby storyline and the fiendishly clever way the Lucy Beale murder story seemed to be resolved and then came roaring back into life. I feel like I actually care about a lot of the characters, and in a soap that used to be accused of being relentlessly bleak there’s now a lot of comedy, thanks to some great writing and some very versatile actors.
The last few episodes have been astonishingly good. Thursday’s was one of the funniest half hours of television I’ve seen for ages – Masood’s sudden transformation into an awkward lothario, bedding Bonnie Langford and trying to kiss his sister in law in the space of 30 minutes; Martin happily chundering all over the Square while Stacey gave him her best disapproving face (which is actually Stacey’s only face, as her default setting is miserable) and wondered if he was really parent/boyfriend material; the long-suffering Tamwar as always gazing around him like he’d just arrived from Planet Normal to be faced with an out of control world. Continue reading
Well, here we are again, time to cast a beady eye over the lathered remains of the most recent goings on. Out of the debris of crashed minibuses, Ronnie Mitchell’s coma and numerous attempts at coital endeavours from Jimmy and Nicola in Emmerdale, I’ve passed my judgements. Being that my opinions count for everything, here is the official (not really) lowdown of what’s set soapland on fire and what’s left it in the January cold…
What I’ve LOVED
We all love a good spoiler or two and I was sitting at a recent Coronation Street press event rubbing my hands together with glee as the episode previews rolled but as you watch the drama unfold live, you end up feeling pretty empty when everything that has been promised will happen comes to pass. On one hand, you’re pleased that the soap producers haven’t lied to you. That’s always nice. On the other, though, you’re hoping to be caught off guard with a curveball that you weren’t expecting. So thank heavens for recent Emmerdale (and to a large extent, EastEnders too) for throwing in viewer surprises into their episodes and keeping the buzz of live soap viewing alive. Rachel Breckle rocking up to the trial of Charity and getting her sent down was a stroke of genius, especially as Emma Atkins had gone to the effort of concealing her pregnancy so no one knew she’d be going on maternity leave. Now there’s dedication to the secret. Then came the revelation that baby Archie is in fact a fake (he would’ve gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for those pesky Spencers) and Megan’s subsequent snatching of the fraud baby. Next week, the surprises keep coming in the form of an exploding caravan, a shock exit and some really delicious stuff that I’m sworn to secrecy over. Keep it up Emmerdale!
We all like a drink at New Year and it’s been a particularly rocky new year in Walford (or a normal one by EastEnders standards) so we can’t really blame any of the Albert Square residents for getting a little bit sloshed but Denise took it a wee bit too far this evening. Yep, the Vic is often home to people making a bit of a spectacle of themselves (we’re looking at you Sonia ‘Gastric Band’ Fowler) and it was Denise’s turn today.
Having had a face off with Kim about the bruises on Patrick’s arms, Denise sought solace in the bottom of a bottle and wasted no time in lashing out at all and sundry before falling unceremoniously from her stool. This sobering moment gave Denise a bit of a wake up call and sent her back home with her drunken tail between her legs but one thing was sure; something needed to change where Patrick’s care was concerned. Denise cannot go on like this; but where will this leave everyone’s favourite Trueman?
The main action in Walford however was in Dexter’s exit. Naw, just kidding, it was the car crash obviously but we’ll cover Dexter’s departure first and he pulled off something I never thought possible in his final appearance; he was actually somewhat likeable. He spent his last few moments not thinking of himself; which is largely what he has done during his entire infuriating Walford tenure, but reuniting dying Stan with Cora. Cora was considering joining Dexter in Newcastle (given my close proximity to the Toon, I’m a tad worried at how close Dex will be to me) but we know that her stony but slightly soft centred heart lies with Stanny Boy.
They were united with a mix-CD (modern!) at the subway station and went back to Walford to face their uncertain but tender looking, if only short term, future.
EastEnders’ New Year special had more twists and turns than a giant’s intestine as Ronnie and Charlie’s wedding day spiralled shockingly out of control; spelling death, destruction and more red herrings than Morrisons’ fish counter.
Ronnie was getting married and, for some inexplicable reason, was so desperate to see the back of Nasty Nick that she stole 100k from Phil and handed all of the cash over to Walford’s least trustworthy resident. Quite how Ronnie assumed Phil wouldn’t notice such a substantial dip in finances was never really addressed but when the truth did dawn on Mr Potato Head, all hell broke loose.
Ronnie had tied the knot with Charlie boy, watched by guests such as Sharon Watts, Billy ‘spare part’ Mitchell and Mrs Doyle. She got somewhat distracted when she saw Nick lurking about (seriously, this is a guy who is better at lurking around corners and behind doors than Sideshow Bob from The Simpsons. I half expected him to stand on a rake) which proved the point that paying him to go away was never really going to work.
Ruthless Ronnie may have slammed a car boot down on a two bit criminal last New Year, but Nasty Nick, Albert Square’s most notorious villain, is a different kettle of fish altogether. This is a chap who has no qualms about poisoning his mother, blowing up a cafe or faking his own death; a few words of warning from a blonde in a wedding dress won’t see him off. Still, Phil can be quite scary, so when Nick overheard Ronnie giving Phillip permission to kill Nick, he sprung into action. As cutting the brakes of Mark Fowler’s motorcycle all those years back had worked out so well for Nick (his son, Ashley ended up being killed), Nick sliced the brakes of Ronnie’s wedding car before swooping off into the shadows.
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!
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.
While I have been nursing my throbbing, swollen, pus filled tonsils back to health during my annual Winter blogging hiatus, I have characteristically managed to keep up with what I normally would have written about, had the lovely germs from Jack Frost allowed me to do so.
Rather than spam the site with a ridiculous amount of articles at once, therefore, I am taking the concise and genius steps of merging my thoughts together in one post so that it’s easier for those of you who tend to skip my articles (I know who you are!).
From glittery costumes and a very pregnant and non drugged up Kylie on The Chase to Homer Simpson beating up Peter Griffin, my viewing pains and pleasures have been as varied as the voices Emmerdale’s Belle Dingle is currently hearing. So let’s press on folks…the quicker I start, the quicker this will be over for all of us. Continue reading