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EastEnders: Mr and Mrs Phil Mitchell

sharon phil eastendersEveryone loves a soap wedding. It’s the chance for all the cast members who aren’t on holiday and assorted non-speaking extras to don their finery and fascinators. It’s a time of romance, happiness, firearms and that moving moment when the vicar/registrar asks if anyone knows any lawful impediment and the embittered ex/drunk relative/etc gets shakily to their feet to deliver the killer blow (sometimes literally) – that is, if both the bride and groom have actually turned up in the first place.

The wedding of Sharon and Phil on EastEnders (or “Mr and Mrs Phil Mitchell,” as they are styling themselves, which sounds strangely old-fashioned to me) was never going to be uneventful. Even if they’d been on their own on a desert island those two could concoct some drama between them. Their speeches were all about trust and fresh starts, and we in the audience were quietly reminded that this might be a tricky proposition by Shirley (whom Phil “slept with” very recently) glaring at the newlyweds across the wedding breakfast of poshed-up cockles & whelks and pie & mash.   Continue reading

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EastEnders: Ronnie tells the truth, and I can start (officially) watching again

Like Ronnie Branning, I, too, have a confession to make. Ronnie’s is a lot bigger, of course – since New Year’s Eve she’s been bringing up someone else’s baby and pretending it was her own. My own crime is that, despite saying I wasn’t going to watch ‘Stenders until this baby-swap nonsense was all done and dusted, I actually only managed to stop watching it for about three episodes. I missed Fatboy too much.

Anyway, back to last night’s events. It was Tanya and Greg’s wedding. Tanya is a big fan of the colour pink – even her front door is pink – so that was very much the colour palette of the wedding. The bridesmaids’ dresses weren’t too bad – it was actually quite nice to see Lauren in something floral and girly for a change – but the theme shouldn’t really have been extended to the groom and best man. The general effect was that the bridal party resembled the Von Trapp family in The Sound of Music, with entire outfits fashioned from curtains.

Tanya couldn’t possibly want to marry Greg, because he’s reasonably nice looking, kind, affable, has no hidden crack habit or other vice that we’re aware of and he’s good at DIY. He loves Tanya so much he’s prepared to wear a comedy waistcoat for his own wedding. Of course she couldn’t really love a man like that, not when there’s baldy, ginger-eyelashed, fag-puffing, daughter-in-law-shagging Max lolling around the Square. You can see Tanya’s dilemma.

Tanya’s big day ended in tragedy, though, when Max and Abi, hurtling churchwards after an emergency visit to the bridal outfit shop, ended up colliding with an articulated truck. Will they be ok? Will seeing Max up to his ginger eyelashes in bandages make Tanya realise that he is the man for her? Will Greg be dumped and have to fall back on his bromance with Ian Beale?

This would be exciting enough for a Friday night’s viewing, but we also have the prospect tonight of Ronnie finally – finally – confessing that baby James Branning is, in fact, baby Tommy Moon. The only thing I’ve quite liked about this absurd and somewhat sick storyline has been that Kat has always seemed to have a connection with the baby, as if an instinct so deep she doesn’t recognise it and dismisses as part of her grief is telling her that he belongs to her. I love Kat and Alfie, so I’m laying in industrial quantities of Kleenex for when they get their baby back.

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Eastenders live: Edge of the seat stuff

Great big pats on the back to everyone involved with the live Eastenders episode last night. Apart from the occasional verbal fluff, and a couple of focusing issues with the cameras, it all went off absolutely smoothly, and the climax was a total shocker, as promised.

They hadn’t taken the easy route, either. As well as large ensemble scenes in the pub, there was a violent rampage by Phil Mitchell (does anyone cringe as effectively as Ian Beale?), rooftop stunt work, and some intense acting. I’d like to single out Samantha Womack for particular praise – her character Ronnie had to tell her sister that she’d been raped by their father. Not an easy scene to play in ordinary times, but with the added pressure of doing it live it must have been incredibly difficult, and she was excellent.

The final scenes, with Bradley falling from the roof and Stacey, Max and Jack desperately trying to get to him, must have been technically so hard to pull off, but it was all done seamlessly. And I don’t think many people had worked out that Stacey was the killer (my money was on Peggy).

In a neat touch, Ian and Dot watched a video that Ian had found in the time capsule he dug up, ensuring that Den and Ange, Kathy, Nasty Nick, Pete, Pauline, Arthur, Frank etc etc all made their appearance in this landmark episode.

Over on BBC3, the inept George Lamb was live on the set to present the “aftermath.” Charlie Clements was obviously emotional – it was his last episode, and what a way to bow out of a programme. There were lots of people in headphones high-fiving each other and hugging in the background, as well they might.

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Eastenders: Way to celebrate a jubilee

Last night’s hour-long Eastenders episode was brilliant stuff. Two weddings simultaneously (Ricky and Bianca in all their chav finery, and Bradley and Stacey quietly in a registry office with only a parent each in attendance) and there was a  constant thud of plot bombs being dropped every few minutes.

There was so much going on that it was hard to keep pace with it all. I loved Billy Mitchell frantically gesturing at the wedding car to take another turn around the block while everyone figured out what to do about the sudden presence of Bianca’s (severely estranged) mother, and Bianca refusing to wait. “I’m nervous! I want to go in!” she said, hutching up her wedding gown and stomping towards the church. Scenes between Lindsay Coulson and Patsy Palmer were always brilliant – there’s some actorly chemistry between the two that makes them totally believable as a mother and daughter – and they were just as good last night.

Elsewhere, Janine was released from police custody due to lack of serious evidence, and turned up in the Square like an avenging angel to disrupt the wedding celebrations and point accusing fingers at assorted Brannings and Mitchells.

Becca let slip to Ronnie that Archie had raped Stacey, who was now pregnant with his child, not Bradley’s. Except, Ronnie told her, Archie wasn’t able to have more children following chemotherapy several years ago. So whose baby is it?

Shirley, who really had made an effort to look fluffy and femine for the wedding (still all in black, but throw on a few sequins and a trilby and she could pass for female on a dark night), had almost forgiven Phil for the other day when she found Sonia in his bed, but when she saw him give Sonia a peck on the cheek as he popped her into a cab back to Martin Fowler, she was having none of his (genuine) protestations of innocence. She’s going to tell the police that the alibi she gave for Phil was all made up.

Ronnie finally flipped, rather understandably, at the sight of her late father staring in her front room window every time she opens the curtains, and went out and threw a can of red paint all over the offending image.

So the stage is set for an absolute cracker of a live episode tonight. I can’t wait.

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