Tuesday, January 24, 2017

EastEnders - Busman's (Permanent) Holiday

So, who’s under the bus in EastEnders? 

Is it Whitney, as Mick suspects, or is it Lee who, for some not yet explained reason, had Whitney’s phone on him?
It was the last of many questions I had in two episodes that have seen tragedy befall the Square (yet again). Here are a few more. How come that everyone had to wait until Denise, inside the bus, pulled the EMERGENCY PULL TO OPEN when, outside, it was very clear that there was a sign saying EMERGENCY PUSH TO OPEN that any of the locals could have read and acted upon.
How come Stacey didn’t hear the crash? I know she had the radio on indoors, but nothing short of a Rolling Stones concert at the O2 could have blocked the sound of a whacking great, out of control double-decker bus careering through your neighbourhood.
Why did the fire brigade take so long to arrive? Well, actually, they haven’t yet; we have to wait until Thursday for that. The reason, of course, is that the locals had to pull togevver to lift the bus off Martin.
It’s not as daft as it sounds. In 2015 in Walthamstow, around 40 or 50 people did just that when a circus-performing unicyclist went into a bus (you really couldn’t make it up). They managed to lift the 12 tonne bus six inches off the ground and the man was saved. Let’s hope they later clubbed together to buy him a car.
It was Max who encouraged everyone to gather round for the big heave-ho (Mick was trying to look concerned but bore his usual expression of the first throes of rigor mortis). Quite why people were standing three deep is anyone’s guess because those in the back two rows really weren’t helping. One extra was smiling so much, I thought she was high on laughing gas. In all, there were probably only about ten people with any pulling power, which made the scene a little ludicrous.
Meanwhile, on the Tube, Sylvia had wet herself before singing Run Rabbit Run. Shirley joined in, much to the amusement of fellow passengers. Cue more extras.
Speaking of which, did you notice how many extras there were running around in the market? On any one day, somebody might purchase an apple and another person a hideous frock (that’s a veritable Black Friday by Walford Standards), and stall-holders outnumber customers by two to one. Yet come Deckergate, there were dozens of people running frantically around, looking for loved ones. 

The main cast had the good sense to stay in the Vic, from where Kaffy informed the emergency services on her mobile that they had to “stop the trains” on the Tube track. Call me psychic, but I reckon they’d already got wind of that.
I’m hoping that Martin survives, as I’ve grown rather fond of him, especially since he led his one-man strike in protest against the market possibly being moved. Alas, it’s a bit late for that now, as half the market has already moved to the Tube tracks. Still, it saves the Council the hassle of shifting it to a new venue. God moves in mysterious ways.
Another thing that’s worrying me is why no one has tended to the poor driver of the bus. Somebody mentioned that they thought he fell asleep at the wheel, although it’s clear he had a heart attack. Why, anyway, had he chosen to take the “long route” instead of the usual one? Does heart disease make you immune to understanding sat nav?
The poor man is still hunched over the wheel (until Thursday, alas), and the ambulance, which has inexplicably parked on the other side of the Square, won’t be able to do a thing when they eventually reach him, as it’s clear he’s a gonner. Still, you’d think that someone would have expressed concern. But oh, no; I forgot. He’s an extra. Superfluous to requirements.
And so, we wait with bated breath, to see who’s dead. It’s never who you want though, is it - yes, I’m talking to you, Donna and Kim. Among the current characters, I could list dozens more – not least, most of those kids who have miraculously appeared in a school that has also emanated from nowhere.
At least more deaths will give Billy and Jay something to do over the next few days and, hopefully, Honey will continue to provide Billy with his corned beef and pickle sandwiches he consumes in the front seat of his vehicle when picking up bodies. 

If he offers you one, Jay, don’t touch it; you know where his hands have been.


Saturday, January 7, 2017

Don't Drink and Dive - EastEnders' Christmas Message

Ongar. EastEnders have put it on the map, only, cruelly, to take it away again with the deaths of Ronnie and Roxy Mitchell.
Having had a festive break, I’m just catching up with the TV I’ve missed, and the spooky, watery death of R & R puts paid to any thoughts the pair had about the new life they were planning in the civil parish in the Epping Forest District in Essex.
There, you see? I Googled it. Twenty miles north east of London, there is a railway station and, um . . . well, to be honest I can’t see much else. Ongar. The name makes me giggle. I have no idea why. It means “grass land”, and quite why Ronnie had chosen to start her married life there is anybody’s guess (did she know how many Albert Square residents have been buried in that forest?). Every time the word came out of her mouth, it sounded as if she didn’t really understand it, either. 
EastEnders can’t resist a bit of festive rigor mortis; it’s sort of their trademark. The sisters’ death – the worst kept secret in the soap’s history – was particularly dramatic. First, they were drinking too much while sitting on a ledge in the building where Ronnie had just tied the knot with the divine Jack. Alas, instead of hopping into bed with his beloved, Jack was forced to read a bedtime story to . . . I don’t know . . . some sleepy kids (to be honest, I lost count of whose kids are whose in the show years ago). 

The week had already seen Lee contemplating suicide by jumping from a ledge, too, which makes me think there might have been a writer of the Christmas shows just trying to conquer his/her acrophobia.
Anyway, Lee didn’t jump and decided, instead, to confess all to Mick about his part in the robbery of the Vic. Mick was not happy. In fact, if there had been a ledge, Mick would have pushed Lee off it. 
But back to the sisters. So, having survived the car journey in which viewers thought their fate was sealed; having survived the slip on the ledge with bottle in hand . . . what do they do but nip off to the pool for reasons that were even less comprehensible than Ronnie’s sudden love for Ongar.
One minute, Roxy was laughing; the next, there was silence. So, what did Ronnie do but dive into the pool to save her sister – the sister who had already ruined the wedding day and was set to ruin Ongar, too, with Ronnie insisting that she move with them.
To be honest, that dress was always going to be the pair’s downfall. Not since the Andrex puppy went berserk in the bathroom have I seen so much flotsam and jetsam just crying out for a disaster. Jumping into the pool to save her sibling, Ronnie couldn’t cope with the frock six feet under, and, if you were looking for a murder weapon, it was the dress wot dunnit. Oh, Ronnie, Ronnie. Don’t drink and dive.
Had the pair gone in a car crash, there would have been two livers that would undoubtedly have been ripe for Phil, who had been languishing in hospital waiting for a transplant. But another donor had already turned up for him and, post-operation, the job lot of yellow make-up the show had been reliant upon to display Phil’s jaundice was suddenly surplus to requirements (does the yellow colour really fade within minutes of the anaesthetic wearing off? Just a medical query. I worry about these things).
I was always a tad concerned about the way that car crash story might have gone, though. Livers are like buses. You wait for ages for one to come along, then three come along together. Luckily for Phil, in the end he didn’t have to choose. He wouldn’t have wanted Roxy’s, anyway – a liver I suspect was in an even worse way than the one that had already given up on him.
And so, the double whammy brings to an end the age of Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber, the sisters who never realised there was anywhere else to go on holiday other than Ibiza and for whom Ongar was the Downton Abbey of their whole miserable existence.
At least it leaves Jack a single man again – and for that, I suspect, he will be eternally grateful. No more Ronnie. No More Roxy. 

More to the point: no more Ongar. 

Praise the Lord!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Icing on the Cake - Kirk and Beth's Corrie Wedding

You don’t see Madonna for ages, and then three come along together in Coronation Street. 

Maddie (who scrubbed up very well), Sophie, and bride Beth all dressed as the pop star for the latter’s Eighties themed wedding. Beth was not happy, but dealt with the situation by pointing that the girls were in “vogue Madonna from 1990”.
As with all soap weddings, Friday’s event had the usual will they/won’t they element when Kirk (who eventually turned up as Adam Ant) had a panic attack about the first dance. His nerves weren’t helped by Beth’s extended family (wonderful – we really have to see more of this heavy drinking, Fraggle Rock convention), who were not impressed with Beth’s choice of groom.
Beth had no such trouble. “I promise to love you on fat days and thin days,” she said, in her pre-written vows. We’re still waiting for the thin days, but it was the right sentiment.
Jonathan Harvey, who wrote the first of Friday’s episodes, camped it up in his inimitable style, with Sean trying to explain his tennis racquet-bearing get-up – “George Michael from his Club Tropicana days”.
There was an equally good episode from Perrie Balthazar, who I presume is a new writer, as the name didn’t ring any bells. Julie was in an increasingly distressed state with Mary taking credit for the cake’s icing (I absolutely love the hilarity this pair continue to create), and Julie finally losing I with Beth’s mother, who was flirting with Dev. “Weddings. Alcohol and polyester,” she sobbed outside the pub, “it’s a powder keg waiting to blow.”
Sally, fresh from rampant sex on the sofa with Tim, missed the ceremony but was in a good mood at the reception: “Everybody’s all right after a few glasses of Prosecco, aren’t they?” Yes. Even Tim.
I felt a bit sorry for Tracy, who must have been thinking about the wedding she was supposed to have had to Rob. She sat solemnly at the bar next to a plate of sausage rolls, vol-au-vents and sandwiches, assuring Beth that she was all right – “Can’t beat a beige buffet.” She was certainly attracting the attentions of Maria and Kirk’s father, Eric, who looked the wrong side of several thousand beige buffets. She, however, had eyes only for Tony, who is another powder keg waiting to blow.
Kirk’s mother’s wedding gift was two flights to Cyprus. “Ayia Napa?” said a hopeful Beth.  Alas, no. The accommodation is with the new in-laws. One can only hope and pray for a spin-off of that honeymoon escapade.
The overall message on Friday was All’s well that ends well. The couple were hitched, Dev declared that he liked Julie’s outburst, Liz insisted that she was taking a depressed Steve to Spain (as if that were not enough to deepen any depression), and Maria made up with Luke who, a week ago, Audrey had said looked like “a young Sidney Poitier”. Really? A Hawaiian American? Soaps’ insistence of lumping together all non-white skinned individuals continues to drive me nuts.
Even Sean ended the day with a smile on his face when his new vicar beau Billy turned up. I dread to think how they made use of that tennis racquet when the festivities ended.
So, good luck to the newly weds and, with Julie catching the bouquet, maybe this was prequel to what will soon be another wedding. 

I can hear Mary sharpening her cake knife even as I write.


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas in CartEnders

And so to Christmas in Albert Square, courtesy of the EastEnders.
Dear Lord, where do I start? Let’s begin with the basics. Ian’s glasses. Get  him a decent pair. Enough said on that front.
Jane and Ian in bed together. Sorry, I just wasn’t buying it. Unlike Ian, who has done exactly that in the past. The idea that he could get it any other way is, of course preposterous. Laughable, even.
The Nazir family getting into the spirit of Christmas. They’ve only just had presents for one of their bi-annual Eid celebrations. Now they’re just being greedy.
Okay, now on to the big stuff. It is only a year since the Carter family moved into the Square, but they soon made it their own, so much so that I have taken to calling it CartEnders, which it undoubtedly is.
Now, Danny Dyer as Mick Carter. It’s a thin line between acting emotion and looking as if you can’t quite see because you’ve lost a contact lens, and over the festive period Mick lost a lot of contact lenses. Even when Linda told him she had been raped by Dean, it looked as if he was scanning the floor in case said lost lens should saucer into view.
This was supposed to be a big climactic moment, but this, along with so much else, seemed to be more of a spoof than real drama. The whole gamut of  “The Dummies Guide to Expression Acting” was here. There was SITMD (Staring Into The Middle Distance) Nancy; Angry Shirley; Hurt Mick (Optrex, you should really keep your eye on this one – I see a lucrative advertising deal beckoning); Jolly But Secretly Worried Babe; Botox Bruvver of Mick (I still have no idea what his name is); and so many other CartEnders, I would get Repetitive Strain Injury were I to start writing about them all.
Now, let me set the scene for The Big Moment. My mum and I were on the sofa, having been watching TV for what seemed like years (nothing on, as always), and enjoying (I use the word very loosely) the usual EastEnders unhappy Christmas. Just as Mick had taken to the floor to find another lost contact lens (or beat up on Dean, as they would have us believe), Shirley tried to bring a halt to the proceedings by announcing that Dean was, in fact Mick’s bruvver (although, in fairness, she did say “brother”; it’s just funnier the other way).
Quite why she thought this would stop Mick is anybody’s guess. Even the most cursory reading of the Cain and Abel story should be indication enough that the sure way guaranteed to encourage someone to beat another to a pulp is by shouting “He’s your brother!”
It stopped Mick in his tracks, but he soon announced that this made no difference whatsoever, and off he went on another contact lens hunting expedition, stopping only to find Linda’s ring left on the bedroom dresser. I like to think that she has merely nipped off to the hairdresser, because, to be frank, not since Mary turned up at the stable without a hairdryer has such a messy coiffure graced Christmas.
I watched it all again at about 2am, just to be certain the whole thing hadn’t been a  ridiculous dream, but, alas, it hadn’t. Does Shirley really look 14 years older than Mick (she claimed she had him at that age). Would Stan (the always terrific Timothy West, who must really have been desperate for the money to take this role on) really not have twigged that when his wife went off to a caravan for a few months and returned with a baby, that all might not be as it seemed?
I really rate producer Dominic Treadwell Collins, who returned to the show at the end of 2012 and breathed new life into it. But the CartEnders have taken over to the detriment of other characters. It’s good to see Nick Cotton (John Altman) back – the show needed a new villain, albeit a resurrected one – and there can never be enough Mitchells for my liking.
It seems as if the CartEnders are here to stay, though, with news of renewed contracts and, doubtless, more branches of the family crawling out of the woodwork. 

In the meantime, Mick, I really hope you find that contact lens.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Which Soap is my Favourite? The Truth . . .

The question I most frequently get asked about the soaps is “Which is your favourite?”

The truth is, it varies.

For the most part, I think the writing in Coronation Street beats all the others hands down. The combination of pathos and laugh aloud humour manifests itself both in big, hard-hitting storylines and also lighter ones.
EastEnders is not without its laughs, too. Jake Wood, who plays Max, has terrific comic timing and can also do the heavy stuff (his farewell scenes with Tanya were among the best the show has ever done). I also like EastEnders for Jack. Oh yes, Jack. Dark, handsome Jack, who was once handcuffed to a radiator – a vision that has never left me, even after all these years.
Emmerdale has some terrific characters, but its recent heavy reliance on drug plots has, for me, been tedious. I know it’s an important issue; it’s just one that has never interested me. But they have plenty of animals – and that’s always an attraction.
Hollyoaks has an abundance of eye candy and non-stop action these days. Every week brings another “revelation” or a “blast from the past” for at least one character.
The Australian soaps cannot match ours for dialogue or plot, but Neighbours has the divine Dr Karl (whose medical skills know no bounds – is there anything he cannot treat?), and Home and Away has the hilarious Marilyn.
Personally, I preferred Home and Away when Summer Bay was exactly that – a Bay, with golden sand and waves, rather then the gangland breeding ground for sun-worshiping Mafia types it has become. There is way too much violence now, too many guns, and too many hospitals with people lying in comas – or recuperating following one of the show’s ubiquitous car crashes.
I’m a big fan of American soaps, although the dropping of 90210 has been traumatising. Still, it became too heavy on promoting the musical careers of its stars (something to which Australian soaps are also prone), and there are only so many men in Beverly Hills with whom Naomi could have endured yet another disastrous relationship.
So, the answer to which soap is my favourite, is: it varies from day to day, hour to hour.

But give me good writing, strong characters and top totty and I’m happy.

CHECK OUT MY BLOG ABOUT AMERICAN TV ON http://jascisusbox.blogspot.com


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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What's Hot, What's Not



1. David Essex as Eddie Moon (EastEnders). I once interviewed him for two hours, during which time he got in barely six words – “Thanks”, every 20 minutes, as I gushed about his many talents.

2. Dr Matt (Coronation Street). Can’t help wondering what he finds to talk about with Tina, though. Safe to say it’s not Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.

3. Slow burning relationship between Lauren and Marlon (Emmerdale). Hurry up and take her over that stove, man; the suspense is killing us.

4. Father Francis (Hollyoaks). For a man of the cloth, he isn’t half quick to contemplate getting out of it at every opportunity. He’s probably downing the communion wine behind closed doors, too.

5. Performances from Alison King and Andrew Lancel as Carla and Frank (Coronation Street). Outstanding stuff in the ongoing rape storyline. And there’s more to come.


1. Dev’s son Aadi, allegedly being the next Tiger Woods (Coronation Street). Hard to believe any kids springing from Dev’s loins could be talented at anything. Let’s hope the kid puts that club to good use off the golf course.

2. Amy/Air-Mee’s hair (Emmerdale). Is it animal, vegetable or mineral? Whichever, it looks in need of a good wash. Well, a shearing wouldn’t go amiss, either.

3. Rosie’s new short hairdo (Coronation Street). Hard to believe she’s been picking up modelling jobs with it. Next week she claims to have landed a stint on Lorraine Kelly, on the catwalk. Yeah, right. And I’m a haggis.

4. Toadie’s new job with the Council (Neighbours). If we thought his job as a solicitor was dull, this one is a veritable rigor mortis of excitement.

5. Hayley’s red mac (Coronation Street). She’s been cemented into it since day one in 1998. Is there anyone on the planet who doesn’t buy a new coat at least once every 13 years?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter Soap Thoughts

So, the baby story on EastEnders has finally come to an end, and that now leaves me free to ponder all those niggling, worrying questions that I have been shelving.

Such as: what has happened to Paddy’s hair in Emmerdale? I have been Googling this for a while, and apparently there is no sinister story: the general theory is that he has been wearing a wig for some time (I hadn’t even noticed) and probably just got fed up with the heat of filming under it (I suspect Corrie’s Sophie has the same feeling under that crinoline toilet roll cover of a beret she has been wearing of late).

Also, on Emmerdale: what has happened to Kelly’s face? I adore Adele Silva, who plays her (nobody bitches it better), but how and when did she acquire those lips?

Did she give birth to Elliott through her mouth?

As a side note in relation to Emmerdale . . . I was watching (for about the 20th time) To Sir With Love today and noticed, in the credits, the name of Christopher Chittell (along with names such as Lulu, Judy Geeson and Adrienne Posta – all very big in their day, for those of you young enough to be my children/grand children). He had a pretty signifiacent role, too, as the young Potter. And he is amazing.

I assumed it was the same Chris (and subsequently discovered it to be him - thank you, again, Google), who has brilliantly (and just as amazingly) been playing Eric Pollard for aeons in Emmerdale, and I was really thrilled to see his name in the credits of what is, to me, one of the greatest films ever made. Blimey! He is one of the most lovely actors I have ever met and could - and should - be screaming from the rooftops about this role, which his young self carries off with extraordinary sensitivity.

I don't care how long ago it was. Talent is talent. Gosh. Honestly. I'm even more in awe of him than I already was. How many of you know this about the guy?

If you haven’t seen To Sir With Love (virtual children and grand children!), do! It is an incredible, brave film, with a moral heart that is so lacking in much of today’s cinema, and I spent Good Friday in tears after watching the star of the movie, Sidney Poitier, in another of his great films, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

I met Sidney last year in LA and was beside myself with excitement. We often forget how far we have come in relation to prejudice, not only in relation to racism, but life in general – and how very far we still have to go. Anyway, I was thrilled to see Chris’s name, and young performers should be reminded of what is undoubtedly a privilege to be working with actors who have trodden the boards long before their own trees were even planted. But I digress . . .

So, other things that I have been thinking about . . . How many wigs does Corrie’s Hayley have – one week light brown, the next week dark? Will she ever go shopping for a new Mac (the coat, not the laptop) to replace that red one, and could she possibly take EastEnders’ Alfie, cemented into that black leather jacket, with her when she does?

Will EastEnders’ Jack ever have sex with anyone who (a) doesn’t get pregnant, (b) is me?

Okay, I digress again, but he really is the hottest totty out there at the moment, although I await David Essex’s arrival with great trepidation). I saw Mr Essex in Godspell in London's Wyndham's Theatre in 1972 (the year I bought my first "surf beads" - I was sooooo hip!), when I went up on stage at the end, where he signed my cork (not a euphemism, alas - I picked it up from the stage floor from the bottle used for the Last Supper. Gosh, they knew how to throw a stage party for the audience in those days).

I interviewed the star once, too, and I didn’t shut up for the three hours over lunch: “I loved you in Godspell and then I bought all your albums and when I saw you in That’ll be the Day with Ringo Starr and you touched that girl’s naked breast and then Ringo said at the miniature golf ‘Good practice for getting things into holes’ and then you were on that suicide mission in Stardust but then I saw you in Evita . . . .” On and on and on. The poor man managed just six words: “Thanks”, every 30 seconds when I paused for breath during my adulatory monologue.

Anyway, have a great Easter, everyone, and keep watching your favourite shows! Check out my other blog, too, http://lanotsoconfidential.blogspot.com.

PS But dammit!!! Chris Chittell!!!! And Sidney Poitier!!!!! Listen up, people! AND LEARN!