WHEN there’s no more room in TV hell, the dead will walk the Earth.
On soap operas, mainly.
Cindy Beale, two months after viewers first saw her spring back to life in France, returned to Albert Square this week, where she immediately bumped into Kathy Cotton[/caption]
The couple began a slapping war[/caption]
Starting with EastEnders’ Cindy Beale who, two months after viewers first saw her spring back to life in France, returned to Albert Square this week, where she immediately bumped into fellow zombie Kathy Cotton, who stuttered: “But you’re dead . . . you died.”
And so did you, should’ve come the reply, but if you pulled at that thread too soon the entire show might have unravelled.
So instead, they argued, exchanged slaps and had a — fight is too strong a word — tussle, which I was amazed to discover had a “stunt coordinator”, but no insurance risk assessment officer, given the combined age of the women was 129.
Bette Davis versus Joan Crawford, it was not, but it bought EastEnders a bit of time until they eventually considered it safe for Cindy to reveal she’d faked her own death to go on the witness protection programme and Kathy to exclaim: “Who else would pull a stunt like that?”
Well, seeing as you ask: Dirty Den, Nick Cotton, Mercedes McQueen from Hollyoaks, Jamie and Kim Tate from Emmerdale, Coronation Street’s Gary Windass and Harold Bishop off Neighbours, to name but an obvious few.
It’s a soap tradition, dating all the way back to Dallas legend Bobby Ewing, in 1986, that’s in danger of getting completely out of hand on EastEnders, where they’re also plagued by spirit versions of old cast members (Pat Evans and Roxy Mitchell) and all those others who’ve regenerated like Doctor Who.
Since Cindy vanished from the Square, in 1998, in fact, they’ve racked up: seven Peter Beales, six Ben Mitchells, fiiiiiive Bobby Beales, four Louise Mitchells, three Ricky Mitchells, two Michelle Fowlers and a Johnny Partridge in a bloody pear tree.
It’s disorientating for viewers, to say the very least.
Nothing kills a soap’s credibility, however, quite like the return of the living dead, who bring not just scientific issues with them but also a whole lot of storyline mayhem and baggage as well.
In the case of Cindy Beale it’s an ex-husband called George who, by a one-in-a-billion coincidence, now happens to be running The Queen Vic with new wife Elaine who, before she’d clapped eyes on Michelle Collins’ character, said “She must be beautiful, because I keep catching you with that thousand-yard stare.”
Which, by an even greater coincidence is probably the exact distance you’d have to retreat before describing Cindy as “beautiful”. In such barmy circumstances, of course, you feel for the entire cast who didn’t need to act much, on Wednesday’s episode.
They looked genuinely bamboozled, until the silence was broken by Cindy saying: “You must have a lot of questions.”
I’ll say they do, but if you’re wondering why EastEnders took such drastic action you need only look at other ongoing storylines.
Life and soul Alfie has prostate cancer, Freddie’s just discovered his dad’s a rapist and Stacey’s abandoned her career as a webcam girl because local pervert Theo “asked me for something I don’t do”.
Smile? Twerk? Act? EastEnders was too uptight to be more specific.
If the accompanying dialogue, though, was delivered with genuine Cockney spark, you wouldn’t mind so much. But it’s not.
It’s as functional and smug as ever, with a new woke edge that recently led Eve to describe Jean as “very heteronormative” and thick-as-mince Honey to claim male attitudes to the Women’s World Cup “reflected the reality of living in the patriarchy”, as absolutely no self- respecting working-class woman would ever say.
I see no signs either of EastEnders breaking this pattern of preaching and resurrecting either, which is why the only poignant part of Cindy’s reappearance was her trip to Walford cemetery where you can expect a new memorial if it doesn’t change: “Here lies EastEnders. It just sort of fizzled out really.”
The pair had a brief tussle[/caption]
Soaps must stop bringing back characters they have killed off[/caption]
The scene won’t be winning an Oscar anytime soon[/caption]
Cooking up a storm
OVER on Celebrity MasterChef, viewers were introduced to fufu, which John Torode explained is: “Really thick and completely bland, so think of it being firm mashed potato.”
But how can I, when I’m already thinking of it being Alex Jones from The One Show?
Orgasm quests a dud end
CHANNEL 4 continued its desperate pursuit of the lonely voyeur market last night, with a documentary called Secrets Of The Female Orgasm.
A presenting task assigned to Yewande Biala, who described herself as a “biologist” and “writer”, but, let’s face it, probably got the gig because she’s also a 26-year-old “former Love Island contestant”, who has never had an orgasm.
To help reach this longed-for climax, she began a “three-month journey”, alongside half a dozen similarly inhibited women, at a mystery location in Sussex (Balls Cross?) where a “hands-on” instructor/demonstrator called Lacey came in about the same time it takes Gloria Hunniford to say: “I’m great friends with Sir Cliff Richard,” but with a lot less noise.
Yewande couldn’t follow suit, obviously, so she was packed off to watch some porn at Essex University, buy a sex toy, which looked more like Freddie Mercury’s Live Aid microphone, and visit an expert called Dr Clare Bailey, who considered a diagnosis of “anorgasmia”, who I thought finished second to Cheddar Gorgeous in the last series of Drag Race UK, but is actually a serious condition.
Nothing worked, though, least of all Yewande’s tears of self-pity and parental recriminations, which meant she ended up back with Dr Clare, who’d earlier given the best advice any Love Island contestant will ever hear: “Can you go away and try touching yourself?”
Or failing that, just go away.
Unexpected morons in bagging area
TIPPING Point: Lucky Stars, Ben Shephard: “How many letters are there in the modern English alphabet?”
Megan McKenna: “Pass.”
The Finish Line, Roman Kemp: “In the nursery rhyme, which character sat on a wall?”
Niki: “Little Bo Peep.”
Tipping Point, Ben Shephard: “By definition, a cameleer is responsible for driving which large hoofed mammal?”
Fab: “A horse.”
And Ben Shephard: “Of the Earth’s seven continents, which comes last alphabetically?”
(As approved by TalkSport’s Andy Jacobs)
Great sporting insights
MARTIN Keown: “I’m not having a go at previous Chelsea managers, but they’ve got a proper manager now.”
Steve Cram: “We know Muir will give 100 per cent, if not more.”
And Alan Smith: “And what about those for a couple of touches, three.”
(Compiled by Graham Wray)
ITV ratcheting up the right- on misery with The Tower.
Holly Willoughby won’t be winning any acting awards after her performance on Midsomer Murders’ Sunday night mystery[/caption]
The hideously inappropriate ego- mania of roly-poly race-baiter Nish Kumar.
And ITV overindulging Holly Willoughby to the point she appeared as the woman with “two beavers” on Midsomer Murders’ Sunday night mystery.
A cameo that won’t be winning Holly any acting awards, but would, in fairness, make one a hell of a case study for Doctor Sara on This Morning.
Subtitle glitch of the week
Soccer Saturday, where Clinton Morrison saying, “Moussa Diaby, a top, top player – you’ve seen what he can do,” was rather gloriously transformed into “A top, top player, you’ve seen Wakanda?”
Lie of the week
GREAT TV lies and delusions of the week.
Your Power, Your Control, Nish Kumar: “Is there a Nobel Prize for being a great laugh? ’Cos I’m a great laugh.”
Nish Kumar is a terrible comedian with a terrible attitude[/caption]
Nish Kumar: “I’m such a good comedian, when I have a bad gig it makes the news.”
Nish Kumar: “My comedy is great.”
And Nish Kumar: “Clearly, I have a low opinion of myself.”
Yeah, clearly . . .
TV name of the week
TV name of the week was, of course, the BBC Proms pianist who was blessed with a name that was, by a million-to-one coincidence, also Liberace’s hobby.
Top Guns: Inside The RAF is an awesome programme[/caption]
Michael Johnson remains the most authoritative and articulate sports pundit on television[/caption]
The simple joy of waking up on a Monday knowing there’s another episode of Winning Time, the greatest sports drama ever made, ready to go on Sky Atlantic.
And BBC2’s mesmerising and beautifully shot Murder Trial (William MacDowell) moving to its haunting climax before concluding with the most profound silence you’ll hear in many a year (BBC2, Monday, 9pm).
Lookalike of the week
This week’s lookalike is a mix of Ruth Wilson and Mick Jagger[/caption]
Sent in by Dave Wolfe, of Lancashire.