EastEnders – 15.5.08

by

Christian Clarke

Surely the EastEnders Stereotyping Department are missing a couple of tricks with the character of Christian?

OK, so he’s got the fag-hag friend, the Kenneth Williams sneer, the tight-fitting clothes, the beautifully decorated flat and the penchant for dancing on tables with a flower behind his ear, but where are the Barbara Streisand albums, the framed Judie Garland prints and the leather cowboy hats? Why isn’t he singing ‘I Will Survive’ every ten minutes? How come he’s not sat at home, bursting into tears as he watches ‘The Wizard Of Oz’ for the umpteenth time? Why hasn’t he mentioned Bette Midler once in the entire time he’s been in the show?

You see, if you watch EastEnders for any length of time you’ll realise that, with the possible exception of black people (though I wouldn’t take that as gospel), the show doesn’t ‘do’ foreigners, minorities, the mentally ill or people of a different sexuality very well at all. They can paint you a picture of a wheelin’, dealin’ car dealer so well that the character consumes the actor playing him, but hand the EastEnders writers a gay man, or an Asian, or an Oirishman and they fall to pieces.

In the case of homosexuals, the character will be either boringly worthy, flamboyantly over the top, or a predator that ‘turns’ a previously heterosexual character into ‘one of them’. Hand them an Asian, and the usual overbearing mother/tyrannical father type soon comes to the fore. Dump some of the characters in the Emerald Isle, and yorr soon lookin’ around for de feckin’ liddle people and de fairies, begorrah, begorrah.

At present, my point is illustrated perfectly by the Masoods. The Masoods are such a cardboard cut-out of an Asian family, it’s as if the writers have a checklist:

  • Overbearing mother? Check.
  • Daughter who wants to have fun, yet who mum wants to see married to a good Indian boy with excellent prospects? Check.
  • Son who is expected to be an academic whizz-kid? Check.
  • Father away in India looking after elderly family member, because that’s what Asians do? Check.
  • Monstrous bullying uncle disgusted by the un-Islamic behaviour of his brother’s family? Check.

This lot comes hot on the heels of the mistake that was the Ferreira family, whose specaility was a monstrous tyrant of a father and a sister who was going off the rails by dating white folks. The whole family was so badly written, so one dimensional, and so shamelessly stereotypical, that they were all hastily culled from the show (a fate shared by the DiMarcos – a woefully underwritten Italian clan who always seemed one line away from saying ‘Oh whatta mistaka to make-a!’ over the pasta bowls).

Indeed, the writing was on the wall the moment the Ferreiras arrived on the square – the dad’s an overbearing Asian bully, yes, but he’s an Elvis impersonating overbearing Asian bully. As if that disguised the usual paper-thin ‘Asian issues’ agenda.

They do it time and again. The Fowlers visiting Oirland episodes garnered so many complaints from real, breathing Irish people that the BBC was forced to issue an apology. Their portrayal of Asians has been an ongoing thorn in the show’s side for over twenty years; and don’t even get me started on the mentally ill – Stacey’s manic depressive mother is a veritable masterclass in how not to write a manic depressive, but is a useful road-map for any aspiring writer who wishes to portray a one-dimensional, Monty Python-style loony.

You wonder, sometimes, where they’re going to plant their great clodhooping feet in it next. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a trip for Garry ‘n’ Minty to India – the hapless mechanics chased around the streets of Delhi by bearded turbaned thuggees, falling in love with the Maharani, and befriending a comedy ox-cart owner called Babou – “Oh, goodness gracious me, Garry! You are werry funny man, bud bud, ding ding!”

Or perhaps, just perhaps, they might try hiring writers with a knowledge of the world that isn’t restricted to wheeler-dealers, happy-go-lucky stall holders, and tarts with a heart of gold. On the evidence of the latest set of stereotypes, they could certainly do with them.

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70 Responses to “EastEnders – 15.5.08”

  1. Swineshead Says:

    Some of the actors transcend the caricature they inhabit though, and I personally think Christian’s one of the only members of the cast I actually like these days.

    And is it just me, or has Adam Woodyatt recently become a better actor? Or is it the shit he’s surrounded by making him look good? (I’m thinking ‘Roxy’ when I say shit, by the way).

  2. piqued Says:

    I don’t watch Eastenders

    Has the new series of The Apprentice begun yet?

  3. Napoleon Says:

    Not sure about Woodyatt. His strangled tones whilst talking to Lucy in that cafe made me leave the room – he sounded like someone had cut his throat.

  4. Napoleon Says:

    It starts next week, Piqued.

  5. Swineshead Says:

    Apprentice starts in July, Piqued. By then you’ll be absorbed by Big Brother 9 no doubt.

  6. CJ Says:

    I have to say this article is spot on, was watching in dis-belief at the Asian family the other eve. It’s just lazy writing – they can’t really be that ignorant and stupid!!?

  7. Napoleon Says:

    They can, CJ. Remember the Simon seduces Tony storyline that they then repeated lock, stock ‘n’ barrel with Naomi and Sonia? Despite the howls of derision from the gay community the first time they did it?

  8. Mikey Says:

    I have always been a little wary of Eastenders. The constant promotion of the BBC’s first Soap has been characteristic from the start. In the Xmas episode of 1986 (I think) the storyline was Den handing Ange divorce papers. The nation was absorbed. (well those who watched Eastenders).
    Gradually the storylines since then have become more amd more sensational. I gave up watching in the nineties. It had become such nonsense that I could bear no more. Chraracters who change their personalities, ridiculous situations blah blah blah. Nowadays it is nothing more than some sort of gangster show.

    I am willing to be accused of being old fashioned, but should not a soap be family viewing? Gentle storylines, shared experiences that the audience might relate to, (rather than full on sensational situations) some topical, relying on the writers skill and empathy for their characters. After all the remit of the BBC ” is to enrich people’s lives with great programmes and services that inform, educate and entertain.”

    Yes there is a place for sensational soap storylines. Brookside fulfilled this quite well. Whilst some people enjoy Eastenders and may look forward to each episode, I am afraid I think Eastenders is poorly conceived, poorly written and in many ways reflective of the lack of imagination that pervades the media. The writers (who I should imagine are of a particular type) are bereft of any insight to modern society, and I cannot help thinking watch too much Hollyoaks.

  9. george Says:

    Great post! One of the reasons I don’t watch soaps.

  10. Napoleon Says:

    I don’t know why I watch it. The reasons have been lost in the mists of time. I do nothing but complain about it … then watch the next episode. It’s like being unable to take your eyes off a car crash.

    As for Brookside? God, I loved that show. Remember the mystery bio-hazard that wiped out half the cast? Or the helicopter crash that did for the rest? And the lesbians and the incest! They just don’t make ’em like that any more.

  11. John Q Wagonwheel Says:

    Rubbernecking at a TV writing pile-up suits it quite well.

    There was a biohazard that killed people in Brookside?

  12. Napoleon Says:

    Yes. A bizarre chemical plague that saw Mick ‘n’ Sinbad manning the barricades with baseball bats at the entrance to the close. It killed loads of ’em. I think it was Black Death.

  13. John Q Wagonwheel Says:

    Surely you can’t be serious. Brookside turned into Dawn of the Dead?

  14. Napoleon Says:

    I AM serious. Brookside was great for that sort o’ thing.

  15. John Q Wagonwheel Says:

    That’s brilliant. I should have watched it, if only for the chemical plague. I’m surprised there hasn’t been a soap-style 6-part series which has just taken things to greater and greater extremes each episode. Now that could work. It’d have to be done with a deft touch and you might get sued by The League of Gentlemen, but still…

  16. Napoleon Says:

    There WAS a soap what did that. It was called Brookside.

  17. John Q Wagonwheel Says:

    Oh really? And what happened in that then?

  18. John Q Wagonwheel Says:

    fnar.

  19. Mikey Says:

    Ahh…Memories! 5.15 Saturday omnibus edition. Let the mayhem unfold! Brookside was sort of groundbreaking in it’s storylines. I think it sat happily with an eighties audience and seemed right for channel 4. It was sort of political too & The girls (mostly) were always quite fanciable.
    Mind you that Barry Grant was a bad apple.

  20. Napoleon Says:

    Barry was a bad apple who turned into an alright apple towards the end. One of my favourite storylines was when Mick turned into a steroid-fuelled, body-building psychopath. And I enjoyed the seige that saw Emily thrown out of an upper story window. AND THE INCEST! AND THEM LESBIANS!

  21. Swineshead Says:

    I was soap addicted when I was a skunk-dependent student what ate two pot noodles a day. Rise at 5pm, skin up and smoke it after a pot noodle, start with Home and Away and Neighbours. Skin up again while waiting for Emmerdale. Watch that and then Eastenders, rounding it all off with Corrie on ITV.

    Then go out and get ridiculously drunk and beaten up in Sheffield city centre on borrowed money. Get home and eat a pot noodle.

    That was a decade ago I’m pleased to say, and THINGS HAVE CHANGED.

  22. Mikey Says:

    He was an alright apple at the beginning to. Him and Terry were just your lovable scousers. Didn’t Barry blow up all the shops? (I may be wrong).

  23. John Q Wagonwheel Says:

    Can you afford a third pot noodle now then?

  24. Swineshead Says:

    I couldn’t watch Brookside for the same reason I couldn’t watch Pobol y Cwm without subtitles.

  25. Swineshead Says:

    I can, JQW, and what’s more, I can afford to buy a posh and tasteless sandwich from Pret a Manger.

  26. John Q Wagonwheel Says:

    But you HAVE to watch Pobol y Cwm and make up what they’re saying as you watch it. It’s much more action packed/lesbian filled that way.

  27. Mikey Says:

    Maxie’s first wife in Brookside was a bit of alright!!!

  28. John Q Wagonwheel Says:

    I see Pret on Tottenham Court Road has moved about 5 doors up to be closer to the Scientologists. Fuck knows why, it’s now far less visible.

  29. Swineshead Says:

    What was her name, Mikey?

    *google finger poised*

  30. John Q Wagonwheel Says:

    More importantly, where can we find pictures of her smothered in Branston beans?

  31. piqued Says:

    Thanks guys

    Does anyone know if Big Brother is on the telly, I hope they bring back all my favourites like Jade and John Mickrewick. And the Amandas twins

    Phwoar, eh laddz??????????

    I tell you what, when they were on I was wanking like a priest, I nearly popped a bean when they were in their bicninins

  32. John Q Wagonwheel Says:

    Also, what’s that song off of The Business? It was 80s and I must have it to complete my collection of shit 80s music. THANKS GUYS.

  33. Mikey Says:

    Suzanna.

  34. Mikey Says:

    Just found this..amazing!
    http://www.brooksidesoapbox.co.uk/guide_1.htm

  35. Napoleon Says:

    Max had an eye for the ladies. Remember when his two little kids got killed-up? That was fun to watch with your fish ‘n’ chips.

    On the subject of being a skunked-over vagabond with a two-a-day Pot Noodle habit, I did a similar thing a few years back. I spent an entire year anchored to a sofa popping ecstasy tablets and drinking White Lightning cider whilst watching war movies over and over again. I once watched The Guns of Navarone twelve times in a row – dead-eyed, with a black hole where my soul should have been.

    THEY WERE THE BEST DAYS OF MY LIFE.

  36. Mikey Says:

    and they say educational standards have gone down!!

  37. Badger Madge Says:

    I’ve warmed to Christian over the last week or so. Saying that, I’ve been watching Enders interminantly but he certainly seems to have calmed down and become more serious, which is good. I hate his gurning, gummy smile though (Harry Hill’s Burp did a wonderful montage once).

    Whenever Ian Beale cries, it’s the most hilarious thing on TV.

  38. Napoleon Says:

    I wasn’t even a student. I’d made a fortune designing greetings cards, and decided to spend a year doing nothing but take drugs and drink myself into a stupor every day. The only time I saw daylight was to walk the dog … and that light BURNED.

  39. piqued Says:

    Does anyone else thing Nicki and Pete will get married when they leave the house

    I do

    WANKERS ahahahahahahaaj

  40. John Q Wagonwheel Says:

    Funny you should mention that, I’m a student and I am rather partial to hitting on 13 grams of MDMA, strapping myself to a chair with industrial cable ties, drinking neat vodka through a hose and watching Where Eagles Dare on repeat for 60-hour stretches. It’s funny how you think you’re the only one, but everyone does it really.

  41. Mikey Says:

    Napoleon..that apprentice task would have been a breeze for you then….

  42. Napoleon Says:

    I was a student for a year and did bugger all but drink and eat steak dinners. They threw me off the course, but I didn’t mind. I’d only gone to university for the money and women on offer.

  43. John Q Wagonwheel Says:

    Well I’ve now had not one but TWO Fray Bentos pies in my life. I can’t stop myself. So University has been worth it for that so far.

  44. Napoleon Says:

    “Napoleon..that apprentice task would have been a breeze for you then….”

    Yeah. I’ve clearly missed my calling – the chance to get shouted at by a thieving London goblin with a chip on his shoulder.

  45. John Q Wagonwheel Says:

    I think everyone’s gorn orf for lunch. So shall I.

  46. Mikey Says:

    Eastenders’ Michelle Fowler went to college. Had an affair with a lecturer. Got a 3rd. Ended up doing graduate research in the USA. Very likely.

  47. piqued Says:

    She was Fowl (er)

    GEDDITT ????????? AHAHAHAHAH;JK

    Get Grace out!

  48. Napoleon Says:

    Yes. And then was never seen again, despite her mother’s death, her brother’s death etc. I think I’ve said this afore.

  49. piqued Says:

    You talking about Chanelle?

  50. Napoleon Says:

    Who?

  51. piqued Says:

    Chanelle

  52. Napoleon Says:

    So you said. But who is she? Is she in Emmerdale? I don’t watch that one.

  53. piqued Says:

    I forgotten what we were talking about now

  54. Napoleon Says:

    That woman you mentioned. Channelle? Yes?

    Piqued?

    Hello?

    NURSE!

  55. John Q Wagonwheel Says:

    Excellent, an ideal segue for more shit-hockling adventures of the food man.

    *gets out cock*

  56. piqued Says:

    NURSE! AHAHAHAH NURSE!!!

    This is fun

  57. Napoleon Says:

    Twit.

  58. Gilbert Wham Says:

    I remember seeing the final episode of Dynasty (by accident, you fuckers), where the entire ghastly rabble are at a wedding or somesuch, and balaclava’ed gunmen swing through the church windows á la the Iranian Embassy siege and machine-gun the lot of ’em. Takes some beating, that.

  59. Dave Says:

    They’re all underwritten, one dimensional characters in Eastenders, Perry. Not just the racials. Take Dot Cotton, the epitomous, overbearing Christian. Eastenders is a world in which religion’s a violin for death, old people are irrelivant annoyances and women, even Butcher, are hussy temptresses. So, you see, the soap mirrors real life perfectly. It aint just the wogs.

    What do you expect? Something as delicately woven as Filmfour’s East is East, or Bend it Like Beckham? Now they’re so 3-D, they’re almost 4-D.

  60. Swineshead Says:

    ‘wogs’

    Not a word that should really be used lightly. Twat.

  61. Napoleon Says:

    I didn’t have you down as a racist, Dave.

    RACIST!

  62. Dave Says:

    Twat isn’t a word that should be used lightly either. Sexist bugger. And my use of bugger is homophobic, and shouldn’t be used lightly either.

    We are all better men.

  63. Napoleon Says:

    Racist.

  64. John Q Wagonwheel Says:

    Oh but he’s a Nice Racist rather than a BASTARD Racist. We’re all Nice Racists, so let’s give a brother a hand, y’all?

  65. Dave Says:

    I’m not a racist, god damn you all. I’ve seen Songs of the South twelve and a half times.

    Swineshead’s astute, however, and I won’t even attempt to argue. Please try and see I was mimicing the ethos of the real racists, them Eastenders writers. I’m a straw man who simply, as per usual, wasn’t thinking.

  66. John Q Wagonwheel Says:

    Suuure you aren’t *cough* racist *cough*

    *Goes to drown self in litres of drowsy Benilyn*

  67. Swineshead Says:

    Dave, don’t worry about it too much, I just think that if you’re going to be ironically racist (which is out of fashion these days anyway) you should go a bit further in making it clear you’re joking. I’m sure you wouldn’t talk like that in a pub for fear of being taken seriously, so let’s all pretend we’re at the pub, alright?

    Pork scratchings and a pint of the strongest ale they’ve got please.

    PS – You’re now third on the WWM most racist list.

  68. Napoleon Says:

    Who are the other two?

  69. Swineshead Says:

    Don’t worry about that, Dave’s jumped to first place…

  70. Napoleon Says:

    Fair enough.

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