Eastenders bosses saw sense, eventually. Rather than drag out the paedophile story until Christmas day for a freaky, festive finale, they opted to have Tony leg it a couple of weeks early. They also spared child-of-the-damned Lauren from his sneaky clutches, mercifully. Not sure how, but Lauren manages to be a realistic character, despite the fact the girl who plays her is somewhat dead around the eyes. Saying that, having your Dad cheating on your Mum with a girl less than half his age and then having your Uncle shack up with Mum as soon as she’s separated, dated an ex-squaddie half her age and tried to bury Dad alive in an urban forest, I suppose your senses might be a little numb.
Tony went out with a bang in an episode focused on Pat’s house. For one of the poorest threads in Eastenders history, it was surprising that the game was upped and the revelation episode was, in fact, genuinely affecting. If you didn’t see it, you won’t believe it, but Patsy Palmer – that shouting, rust-headed, walking mardy put in a bravura performance for once in her life. Bianca and Whitney’s interactions were horrifically believable, and Tony’s blank-faced nastiness went down well too.
I say ‘went down well’, but that’s hardly the right phrase. The thirty minutes left the audience nauseous as Bianca had what was occurring spelled out to her multiple times. When Tony’s amusing attempts to wriggle free failed (causing a cheer in my house), Bianca ran to the toilet to vomit copiously, just as I popped a roast potato into my mouth. Don’t they realise this is tea-time telly?
When Bianca pleaded with Tony, asking her to reveal if he’d touched little Tiff, he stalled when asked ‘why not?’. I can’t have been alone in wondering if he was going to specify the girl’s hair colour as the reason for his not advancing on her. It was even possible that he might have used the ‘Paedogedden’ reason given by Simon Pegg on Chris Morris’s Brass Eye special that he simply ‘didn’t fancy her’, but he left it, vaguely, at ‘that wouldn’t be my style’.
Making light of it is easy, so I’ll stop as this was actually a moving episode. Bianca’s character reacted exactly as the audience has come to expect – at first entirely selfishly and then, ultimately, believably sympathetic. It reminded us why she’s got such a strong role in a leading soap.
Tony was chased off at the end after making a crucial but mistimed return to the scene of the crime to pick up his passport and it’s genuinely good to see the back of him. At first the whole plotline was little short of comical, before turning more credible as Tony began to ‘go off’ his young prey as he watched her mature.
Despite Chris Coghill’s good showing, I’m glad we can move on from the era in which Eastenders became Beastenders.
All that revolting conversation at a time when me and the missus are settling down to dinner. What kind of time’s that to be airing such nastiness?
It’s a bloody disgrace.