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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!

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Emmerdale: Water way to go!

This article contains SPOILERS for those who have not yet seen Thursday 25th September’s episodes

Well, it was all flaring up in Emmerdale tonight wasn’t it? Declan was really digging a hole for himself and some could even soaps-emmerdale-charity-declan-macey-boot-2say he was in too deep. Enough puns? So what is the latest in Emmerdale’s big week, scheduled cunningly in the final days of voting for the Inside Soap Award for Best Soap?

Declan had just given Charity a face full of his meat tenderiser and now had what he thought was a dead body on his hands. Meanwhile, wrongly accused Megan and the eternally hapless but endearing Robbie were slowly (and I mean very slowly; he was able to dig an entire grave in the time it took them to arrive) on Declan’s trail.

This was Emmerdale’s gripping take on Cape Fear as Declan went from short tempered businessman to full blown psycho. Bundling Charity into a car boot in what must rank as one of her most uncomfortable car journeys of all time (except perhaps the ones she might have experienced in her prostitute days), he sped off into the woods to bury his deceitful wife. However, Charity, as always, had the knack of putting her Size 9s right in it; this time the ‘it’ was Declan’s face as he opened the boot.   Continue reading

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Eastenders: Let it Buuuuuurn

I’m going to be a tad controversial here and also go against the blog’s own Twitter posting and say that the only thing that resembled disaster in last night’s episode of Eastenders was the script and the acting.

It was the hyped to death Queen Vic fire. For months we’ve been teased that something spectacular was to hit our screen…the disaster to end all soap disasters. In this case, I hope it does…if I have to sit through a similar shambolic half hour of ‘drama’ again, I’ll scream louder than Peggy Mitchell…and that’s saying something!

It could have been so good. So where did it all go wrong? Well any massive piece of drama that centres around Peggy Mitchell is always going to be a risk. Sure, Barbara Windsor can slap people, do funny giggles and order people out of her pub in a pantomime fashion but when it comes to the nitty gritty of powerful acting, she just can’t do it. The episode summed up just why it’s a good thing that we’re seeing the back of Peggy. The gurning, the hammy shrieks, the unfathomable lines that I still can’t work out…she was embarassingly OTT from start to finish. But she was not alone. Joining the ‘I can scream and shout as loud as possible so I’m a good actor’ brigade was pretty much the entire cast, with the sole exception of Lacey Turner who was the only one who convinced me she was genuinely terrified of her predicament.

But then, we can’t just blame the actors. The scripting was TERRIBLE. Point one…the fire would not have spread as fast as it did. I don’t care how much alcohol was lying around, the whole place was up within a minute. Secondly, any legal pub would have a SMOKE DETECTOR…most would have sprinklers so why no one became aware of imminent danger sooner is beyond me. Thirdly, there are three exits from the Vic so all this running round in circles just should not have happened. Fourthly, why was everyone standing right outside a pub that was about to explode? Fifthly, where was that fire brigade that was called pretty much at the start of the episode? Is there only one fire engine to cater for the whole of London?

It was a shambles. Half the time, it was unclear what was going on. The explosions may well have been good but we heard them more than we saw them so it’s hard to judge.  The cameraman appeared to either be drunk or recently sacked and deliberately screwing up on his last day. I couldn’t work out what most people were saying. And with the mass cast clearout they have just had, they didn’t even have the courage to kill anybody off! The contrived way that Peggy is being written out is pretty anticlimatic. You’ll know what I mean if you bother to tune in tonight, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

And finally, whoever wrote the script is obviously a Stephen King fan. From Phil smashing his way through a door in a blatant rip off of the Shining to Peggy growling ‘Let it Burn, Let it Buuuurn!’ at the end a la Carrie, the writing was horrific.

You can usually rely on Eastenders to provide stunning special episodes but if this is all the new producer can muster, then the signs don’t look good for the show’s imminent future. And if you can get through the latest trailer promoting a certain couple’s return without cringing yourself to death, I think you might just agree…

Posted By Our Man In The North

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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.

Posted by PLA          (more Eastenders posts here)

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