Posts Tagged ‘Billy Mitchell’

The Friday Question: Character Empathy

September 12, 2008

When we watch TV drama or comedy – from the humble soap opera via the sitcom to the megabudget one hour Christmas drama special – we like to identify with at least one of the characters.

Character empathy gives us an anchor by which we can involve ourselves with the plot and all of the circumstances of the script.

I’m not talking here about fancying a lead character – that’s a discussion for another time. Keep your puerile fantasies regarding Gillian Anderson to yourself this time. I’m talking about the character in a TV show you most identify with – be it for their attitude to life, their personal circumstances, their appearance (and people’s reaction to it) or their lifestyle choices…

Are you down on your luck what with the credit crunch and finding yourself breaking down every time Perry Fenwick as Billy Mitchell has a snivel?

Do you like to walk through the rough part of town on a regular basis, playing Robin Hood for the crackheads as you threaten scary folk with a massive shotgun, a la Omar Little?

Are you reading this from a desert island like a tedious goon from Lost?

Are you supposedly ugly, when in fact you look quite normal – attractive even if only you’d sort your clothes and hair out – and happen to work in the rag trade like that Betty squirt?

Which television character do you most identify with?

Eh?

Eastenders

November 13, 2007

Nana Moon 

Sad news everyone – Nana Moon, otherwise known as Hilda Braid, passed away on the sixth of the month. R.I.P.

It’s in tribute to her brilliant performances in ‘Enders and Citizen Smith that I type the following:

Ooooooh! Foxy!

Anyway – what’s going on in the ‘Enders recently? I must’ve missed an episode somewhere along the line, because it seems that Manc bloke, Jase, is suddenly being pursued by herds of heavies, Gangs of New York style. Your archetypal Eastend gangsters have been following him for weeks now, and I can’t fathom it. You can tell they’re bad sorts because they cup their fags in their hands when they smoke – a sure sign of a criminal past. One or two of them wear leather. It’s terrifying.

Anyhow, Dawn’s in trouble, because she’s now his fancy-lady and this can only end in tears. On their first date they got grief from the likes of the repulsive Garry ‘obbs and the prune-faced Roxy before going straight back to hers. It’s only a half an hour show, so there’s no time to muck about, see? They did a kiss at the end of the show, which means, in Walford, that they also did sex and are now lovers.

Mickey turned up in his first solid storyline since he played second fiddle in Jase’s painter and decorator strand. He had about five lines and three minutes screentime. I can’t believe he gets a salary for that. He’s on about £100,000 a year for pretending to gladly take a fiver so he can go to the Vic, vacating the set so that the bigger players can do a scene. He is the proverbial spare prick at a wedding, except he’s getting paid one hundred grand annually for loitering. The bastard.

In other news, we learned that Honey is due to give birth to Billy’s child. The last one had downs syndrome, a source of much agonising all round. There’s uncertainty as they didn’t check for abnormalities with this pregnancy. When you think about it, there’s no need really – Billy’s the Dad – it’s bound to look warped. The poor child’s father looks like ET in a toupe. I don’t know why I’m banging on about it anyway, it’s bound to die before its born – this is Walford where infant mortality rates beat the rest of the country a dozen to one.

The best scene last night featured three human actors and four dogs, all of whom stole the show from their homo sapien colleagues. So here’s to Henry, Terrence, Genghis and Wellard being given a bit more screentime to stem the misery. Come on BBC bosses, you know it makes sense.

Coronation Street

September 18, 2007

David Platt 

When I was a useless, substance-dependent student living in the North of England, my day wasn’t complete without six cans of Spar Lager, a pouch of Drum tobacco, a hangover that made me question my very existence and, if conditions would allow, a few wheezes on the bum-sucked spliffs a pal had rolled. On top of this, if it was a weekday around five pm, I would become sucked into the world of Soap Opera after waking up in a filthy bed surrounding by pornography and dried blood. I was the type of lad you could take home to meet your mother.

My soap opera crawl would start on the other side of the globe. An antipodean hour of festering shit beginning at Yabby Creek, waddling along Summer Bay and ending up in Ramsay Street via the international business park that is Paul Robinson’s Lassiters. After confirming that I would be closer each day to Home and Away and being reminded that I might one day find the perfect blend, I’d pop over to Chester.

Hollyoaks passed in a whirl of horrific acting, idiotic trendy boys and dead-eyed blonde girls who looked like they’d been reanimated by a pervert. Emmerdale came next and I literally can’t remember a single thing about it, apart from Seth’s fantastic moustache.

After that, and Christ only knows why, I would subject myself to the mind-hammering that is Coronation Street. Or ‘The Street’, if you are over 60, work in the tabloids or are a complete twat.

It has been ten years since I was in that dark, dark place and last night, more by harsh luck than judgement, I sat through an entire episode of Coronation Street. It was a harsh reminder that television truly does rot the brain.

Very little in Corrie had changed. Roy Cropper was still going out with a transexual who was played by a born-woman, defeating the point of the fact that he’s going out with a transexual. Tyrone is still fat and stupid, but is now hairy and fat and stupid. Ashley still speaks like someone’s treading on his little toe. Kevin still looks even weirder without a moustache than with one.

Betty is still alive. That was a shock. And she’s still rooted to the same spot in the Rovers Return, banging on about her fucking hotpot. Poor cow. She’s surely earned herself a stay at an above average retirement home by now so the producers should do the decent thing and pack her off to one. And throw away the key.

The biggest shock came when I saw Gail’s boy – the one who was about six years old ten years ago and seemed like the most amazing child actor I’d ever seen. ‘He’s got a bright future, that one’ I thought to myself, all those years ago. Last night proved me bang wrong.

He’s turned into one of the worst actors I’ve seen in my life. In last night’s storyline he’d left his niece alone with a doll which had ecstasy pills hidden within its plastic torso (a la Danny in Withnail and I). The little kid (Bethany, I think) obviously ingested a few of these embalmers and we were subjected to the sight of this former child actor hollering and banging the furniture in frustration in the most unrealistic soap set-piece I’ve ever seen.

Aside from this moment of high tension, the thing that got me was just how slow Coronation Street is. I suppose it’s a fair reflection of life in a Northern town that very little seems to happen for long periods of time, but Christ, it ain’t half boring.

Give me the crazy streets of Walford any day. I switched over at 8pm and there was Sean flushing Deano’s head down a lavvy, Ian Beale narrowly avoiding being run over by his dead ex wife and, the icing on the cake, Billy getting in a bit of a huff. God bless the ‘enders. All hail the Beasts of the East.