Newest Review: ... murders. There's always something going on. I am not an avid soap opera fan and Eastenders is the only one I watch. Saying that I religio... more
Knees up Mother Brown and all that
Member Name: spacelamb
Date: 02/05/01, updated on 02/05/01 (575 review reads)
Advantages: script, characters, complete disregard for real life
Disadvantages: absolutely none
I'm not going to describe EastEnders. If you've never heard of it, you must be a moth. Um, a moth that can use a computer. Look, shut up, okay?
Rather than tell you all the blatantly obvious things about the show, I thought I would explain why it is the best thing since colour-changing pens (or did it pre-date them? - damn, caught in my own chronological trap), and why if you don't watch it with religious fervour I am coming round your house to wreck your lawn and topple your gnomes until you see the error of your ways.
Here are five really valid reasons to become an EastEnders goon.
Yes, Barbara Windsor, otherwise known as Carry On Landlady, who livens up the show with her trademark saucy winks, even when mourning the departure of scoundrel hubbie Fwaaaank. (Mercifully we have so far been saved from a repeat performance of the bra-twanging-over-tents incident, for which I thank the scriptwriters from the bottom of my heart). I think it’s fair to say, having seen several interviews with the old dear, that she is not really acting as Peggy Mitchell – both she and the character are the epitome of an east end gangster moll who could also be your gran – which is all very weird, but it has made her a national institution.
2. THE ‘AS IF’ FACTOR
You can keep your docusoaps. EastEnders plotlines are so brilliantly unlikely that you almost believe them, but not quite. They do away with all the tat of a regular person’s day – nobody ever needs a poo, for example (unless it is integral to a larger scheme of events such as a murder / arson attack / collapse of a marriage – no, I don’t know how, but these guys will always find a way). The show has been criticised in the past for being ‘depressing’ and I think that’s a fair point – each individual character has a tragic past, including (as an absolute minimum) several bereavements and a s
pell in Walford General Hospital – but it sure as hell makes your own life seem less traumatic (“damn, run out of cigarettes, will have to go ALL the way to newsagents now” etc).
3. IT’S NOT CORRIE
In the same way as you get cat and dog people (not some bizarre cross-breed – you know what I’m talking about), you get EastEnders and Corrie people. And you wouldn’t want to be a Corrie person would you? That would make you a fool at best, a Northerner at worst. Corrie has a much less apparent ‘as if’ factor (see above) – I’m sure the programme has raised constipation and the loss of a hat as important social issues before. And on a serious note, I also think that what they are doing at present is perverse – in an effort to mimic the ‘Who Shot Phil?’ mystery in EE, their main storyline is ‘Who Raped Toyah?’ Phil Mitchell was a bad guy who everyone wanted rid of, and the whole scenario was set up to be comic. To use the rape of a young and not remotely ‘deserving’ character in this ratings-war fashion is nothing short of sick.
4. IT’S FUNNIER THAN THE ROYLE FAMILY
Pick any random scene from The Royle Family, a critically acclaimed ‘comedy’ - you could watch it in your own front room (or at least the front room of your most detested relations) – that’s not comedy, surely? Now look at EastEnders. They have an excellent selection of misfit characters including:
·Robbie Jackson - a street cleaner, eternally unlucky in love (his scraggy mutt, Well’Ard, is considerably more attractive)
·Mo Slater – a hard-as-nails granny with a criminal past (played by Gary Oldman’s sister)
·Barry Evans – a hapless, overweight used car salesman who is about as bright as a thimble
·Kat Slater – a walking advertisement for unattractive snakeskin clothing, whose double entendres rival S
…shush now, you know them all anyway. Much more amusing than Corrie’s Fred Elliot (“I’ll be off now Audrey, I say, I’ll be off now Audrey” – SHUT UP!). They also have, approximately weekly, a humourous and irrelevant sub-plot, such as The Thief Who Stole Mo’s Pants From The Washing Line On A Regular Basis (true).
5. MEL AND STEVE
These newlyweds provide the glamour and the sex appeal in the show – Tamzin Outhwaite (Mel) has been voted ‘sexiest woman in soap’ (fair enough, a dubious accolade) countless times, and Martin Kemp (Steve) used to be in Spandau Ballet which gives him instant credibility and fanciability. NB: I don’t expect that last statement to go uncontested but hey, that’s what the commentary section is for. They both have unsurprisingly dodgy pasts. Mel was a tearway teenager, recently slept with her best friend’s man, and jilted her first husband at the altar; Steve is a ducking-and-diving ‘businessman’ who tried to blame an 18 year-old employee when he killed his ex-lover with a marble ashtray. All run of the mill stuff, then. Together they make a fantastic cockney couple, and I for one would love to see them as the new Den and Angie, running the Queen Vic. Time will tell.
Not convinced? Well see if the website will change your mind. Visit www.bbc.co.uk/eastenders for a good half an hour of thrills and spills – or at least, give Dot and Terry a virtual makeover, test your knowledge of the show and play ‘Who Shot Phil? – The Game’, a hilarious variation on Pac Man which uses the evil one’s head as the Pac. Told you they had a sense of humour.