Posts Tagged ‘Soaps’

EastEnders: SUCCESS

May 2, 2008


If you watched Eastenders last night, you’ll know that the WWM petition started all those months ago has finally enforced a result. No longer is Winston, the CD vendor of Albert Square market considered a bit-part player. No longer will he smirk in the background at comical incidents, like when Minty inadvertantly revealed that he’d hidden a budgie in a garage. No longer will he simmer in the background over the fact his market stall got driven into once, a few years ago.

For last night, Winston got a line. He had a brief chat with Peggy Mitchell. 

What’s more, he followed it up with further dialogue as Gus left the square. The fact that this was the most unrealistic au revoir in the history of the Square is irrelevant. Winston proved himself equal to any of the other second rate actors that populate Walford – people like Jane’s gay brother, the small ginger child Bianca’s dragged along with her and Shabnam (who’s only there on looks after all).

But, my friends, this is not the end. This is only the beginning. We need to build on our success. With four signatures on the petition we have marked a change in British television history. It will take guts and determination to reach our target of one million independent signatures. From there, we can get Winston his own spin off series, ‘Winning with Winston’ about the ups and downs of a West Indian market trader in a fictional London Borough.

Let’s make it happen.


April 29, 2008


What on earth have the writers of EastEnders got against Gus and his elderly dog, Wellard? Over the last few weeks they have decided to hand him over to monstrous psychopath, Sean – a cartoon character that belongs in a low-grade horror movie. Why?

Gus, who regular viewers of ‘Enders know as a happy-go-lucky, poetic road sweeper has been prodded, poked, imprisoned, and now tortured by Sean. His dog, Wellard, has been threatened with a stick, yanked around the square in a way you just shouldn’t treat old dogs, and locked in a cupboard without food or water for what seemed like the best part of the day. This has bewildered me.

Have the writers been taking their cues from Hostel or the Saw movies? Who thought this horrible, uncomfortable, and downright nasty storyline was right for an early-evening family soap opera? “Things have got stale in the square,” someone says, “let’s torture Gus.”

In the twenty-odd years I’ve been watching this show, there have been plenty of dreadful and unpleasant storylines: Stella’s bullying of Ben that left you feeling dirty after watching it, the disasterous Ferera family of Asian stereotypes, Kevin being gut-punched by the engine block of a Ford Focus, Pat naked in bed with Frank, but Gus’s trip down the rabbithole of Sean’s one dimensional psychosis takes the biscuit.

This storyline is vile. It interrupts the flow of the show. It lands in peril two minor characters that you felt assured weren’t there to be put in peril. And certainly not by brutal shitbags like Sean – the most badly handled character the show has ever produced.

I don’t want to see Gus being tied up, beaten, bullied, and imprisoned. I feel cheated by the EastEnders writers. I was so angry with the treatment of Wellard, I wrote the BBC a letter. That’s right – a letter. Good, if ultimately useless characters like Gus aren’t there to be shown the instruments by bad and completely useless characters like Sean. They’re there to attend stag nights, fill out the numbers in the Vic, and drink the health of more important characters when they either marry, or die.

What next? Phil battering Keith and Ghenghis to death with a pool cue?

Tesco Direct

October 12, 2007

For an industry that is supposedly meant to be ahead of the zeitgeist, advertisers have a distinctly outdated viewpoint of human beings. Women are tawdry bags of imperfections that are in need of medical and cosmetic improvements, while men are serial sleazebags in search of the next commitment free lay. From the battling hoardes of early-morning shoppers who will willingly tear the jugular out of another female in order to get the new Chanel No.9, to the AIDS carrying ‘Mickey’ from the universally detested Head and Shoulders advert, they seem hell-bent on convincing us to be impressed by our most outdated stereotypes.

Take this latest advert from Tesco Direct. It’s clearly meant to be classy and sophisticated, but it comes across as a detestable 30 second remake of Alfie. A charmless date rapist, played by a man who is apparently a famous TV actor, tries to seduce an ex-Eastender by having his house fitted with budget furnishing… and she’s impressed by him.

Not only does it present men as egocentric wannabe lotharios, but it also offers up a viewpoint of women as obtainable when presented with the right combination of material possessions. Big fridge-freezer? Check. Nice new oven? Check. Remotely controlled faux-fireplace – surely the epitome of pseudo middle-class chintz? Check. The only thing they’re missing is the Tesco own brand Rohypnol he slips into her drink when his carefully balanced check list fails to get his dick sucked.

I’m confused as to what Tesco thought they were saying by commissioning this piece of instructional sleaze. Is our main character so desperate to nail this cock-tease of a cliche that he’s prepared to give it a shot while the delivery men are still in the house? “Don’t mind the workmen, love, now about getting your tits out…?” Is she so classy that she finds his ignoring of the proletariat boiler suits around them sexy? “Ooooh, I just love the way you pretend that those dirty little men don’t exist, now crank up the fake fireplace.”

Come to think of it, what woman in this world would be impressed by a guy who’s fitted his entire house with furnishings from Tesco? Ikea may have made mass-produced designer house furniture fashionable, but at least they suggest you mix and match to create your own style… Our deluded Don Juan character has simply let the biggest supermarket chain in the country decide what his furnishings should be. Character, style, a personal touch – all have been jetisoned in favour of an atypical image of middle-class success. They can worry about what looks good in his home while he gets on with the important business of getting his leg over with some dodgy, out-of-work, easily impressed skank.

While this advert is filled with horribly sex-pesty behaviour, my favourite moment is at 21 seconds in when our consumerismly impressed couple have to do a deliberate slow walk in order to let the Tesco men roll out the rug in time. It’s a moot point, for sure, but one that I find terribly funny…

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.


July 11, 2007


Well done Mickey, you’ve managed to get rid of the only desirable cast member with your idiotic talk of marriage. She also sold knocked off DVDs and grew skunk in the larder. The perfect woman. Alright, she couldn’t act for toffee, but who really cares? Ian Beale’s got away without an equity card for his entire life, so it needn’t stop anyone.

How could you foul it up? I suspect, on Li’s part, the commitment issue was probably just a ruse to escape that incessant squeaking you subject people to. I’m of the opinion that young Mickey was starved as a child and was forced to swallow a pet guinea pig whole. Lodged in his oesaphagus, it lives off stray flakes from the bacon baps he buys from Cathy’s caff, intercepting any signal from his voicebox with a shrill squeak. It’s the only explanation.

Yesterday’s ‘enders was one in an occasional series of ‘comic’ episodes – that is to say nobody got savaged by a stray dog, not one child got maimed by Charlie’s 20 mph cab and nobody fell off the top of a helter skelter. Instead we had Stella trying to sing Barbie Girl over that peripheral fat character’s karaoke machine. Where did that chubby mate of Shirley’s come from? It’s as if Oliver Hardy’s corpse, reanimated, had a shave and bumbled into Elstree studios. We also saw Phil, on his stag night, treated to a stripper whilst wearing a really rather far out looking hat, man. On top of all this hilarity, Minty chased a sheep through the Square.

Obviously we needed a bit of misery now that the mental doctor’s defected, so we also had a dribble of the Max and Stacey affair. Max shouted a message through Stacey’s letterbox. I’ve never seen a more alarming sight than the bulging eyes of the red haired lightbulb head peering through a mail slit. It would give any normal girl nightmares for weeks, but for Stace it was simply a reminder of a great bunk up. If anyone  can think of a more perverse love triangle (only involving human adults) I’ll doff my cap to them.

Reality / Eastenders

May 1, 2007


Did you happen to catch Eastenders yesterday? Eh?

Bradley, the one who looks like a slapped arse, and that girl I can’t remember the name of had a conversation about science fiction. They even mentioned Return of the Jedi, and Han Solo, and Luke Skywalker. You see what they did there? They made a cultural reference that was supposed to connect the show with the wider reality of the real world … ooooooo, clever Eastenders!

So, despite being a place where Skoe is the lager of choice, where non-existent magazines fill the shelves of the Mini-Mart, where everyone knows everyone else and make all their major announcements in the local pub, where everyone does their banking at the cash machine of a fake bank in Walford station, where all food is purchased at a corner shop, where no-one has a washing machine, where bottles of wine are purchased in the pub and not from an off-licence, where clothes for a night out are bought off market stalls, where everyone has money without ever seeming to do a job, where everyone reads The Walford Gazette but never The Times or The Sun, where General Elections are ignored, where major sporting events are celebrated without anyone watching any sport, where murderers run free in the streets and where having an affair can be conducted out in the open until the penny drops in the pub … despite all this shit and more we are supposed to see some connection with reality because one of the characters mentions Return of the Jedi?

The writers of the show couldn’t even get their dangerous new dabbling with the real world right for cryin’ out loud. Bradley asked the girl I can’t remember the name of who was her favourite – Luke or Han? She replied ‘Luke’ and Bradders just nodded. Eh? Anyone in the real world knows the answer to that question and it aint Luke Skywalker …  

… stupid bastards.


March 9, 2007

Beasts of the East 

I hadn’t seen Eastenders in years. I remember Den and Ange, Arthur and Pauline, the two bald gays, one of whom spoke in such a contrived husky parlance I’m convinced that off-scene his voice was actually so high no one could hear it apart from (fat) dogs. We were supposed to believe that the other chrome dome had been in the Para’s. To make the point once in a while he’d go ‘mental’ which involved a series of posturing and hard stares that even if accompanied by the language of a docker in advanced stages of Alzheimer’s being screamed in the face of a sensitive two year old girl, the reaction would be for her to giggle uncontrollably at the cunt’s total lack of acting skills and fucking hair and gently pat his nose.

The other night I sat through 15 minutes of it, I didn’t recognise a single character outside of the one whose saggy norks fell out of her top in a Carry-On film made over 100 years ago, and some other characters I’d seen in The Bill or something.

However, whilst the cast my be a different set of thin lipped gargoyles, the relentless misery and poison inherent in the script/speech/storylines seem very much to have Spinal-Tapped their way to 11. In a mere 15 minutes I was treated to the rantings of some young slattern who, it appeared, had been knocked up by a the husband of the ‘Eastenders’ doctor, the only person who could speak proper but in true soap-style managed to have a full on fucking shit-fit, a painting-by-numbers method treatment (snot bubbles, rolling around) to then instantly revert into a scheming minx (a piggy minx I hasten to add) when her husband came home.

The uninterrupted flow of miserable ugly fizzogs, the yelling, crying and shouting, the sheer nastiness of it, why do people subject themselves to this unremitting slice of horror? I mean it’s not even fucking real. It’s not even fucking acted/written/directed or anything well. Turn on the bloody news, the unscripted repugnance therein is far worse and it’s stuff that’s actually happened /happening.

Christ it makes my blood boil.

(btw, when is it on again?)


February 7, 2007

Mickey Eastenders 

I remember tuning in to Eastenders in my youth and I remember all the brilliant characters who were under the age of 18. There was Wickesy with his Jimmy Hill good looks, charming all the ladies before he became  PC Heartbeat. Then there was Sharon Watts, a large-lovely, glamorous and bulbous. There was only a whisker of difference between her look and Pat’s, but – good Lord – what a whisker. Then there was Michelle played by the gorgeous Susan Tully. A dwarf in drag, her cheeks looked to me like fossilised apples. She had attitude, she had vim, she had Lofty. What about Ian Beale in his glory days? Happy-go-lucky, carefree, always on the lookout for a place where an honest shilling could be made. Proper East-end youngsters they were. I wanted to move down South from the fens of Lincolnshire to hang out with this crowd of street-smart youngsters, abandoning the potato-picking and the frosty fields for littered streets where kids say ‘ain’t’ instead of ‘isn’t’.

This may be pure nostalgia, but I’m certain the kids back then were a million times more interesting than the sub-Hollyoaks clan of idiots they parade these days.

Mickey, with his gravity defying haircut, continues to speak like a fourteen year old boy with a nine year old girl’s voice. When he utters words, he emits the sound of Luke Goss running his fingernails down a blackboard while stepping on polystyrene blocks in clogs. They could use him as an alarm to wake up the deaf. Add this to the fact that the scriptwriters never give him anything more complicated to handle than tripping over a boiled sweet in the video shop, and I fail to see the point of his existence either in a fictional or material world. Is he eye candy? I wouldn’t have thought so, with his strawberry blonde Manga-mullet and mid-90’s combats. Comic relief? If he makes you smile rather than wince, you’re a stronger man than I. His only function is to pad a scene out, providing one extra body in the pub. He’ll lift a glass when Peggy proposes a toast to Phil’s latest shirt or be a chuckler when Minty pukes up his pint of Churchill into Jim’s wife, Dot, but he’ll never, ever have a central storyline. 

I am bewildered by the existence of Mickey off of Eastenders. Bewildered and bemused.