Greetings and Salutations to you all and welcome to another fantabulous trawl through the world of television. We’ll kick things off with a song, once again from Holby City. It’s a 1990s classic by Cast, ‘Walk Away’.
It’s not a tremendous week for new shows, but given the sheer volume of shows I’m watching (or at least Sky +-ing and failing to keep up with) that’s probably a good thing, but nonetheless we have a few things to look at. But before then let’s get to some Soapy business!
And as promised last week, this edition will be looking at one Lynda Block…I mean…Carla Connor/Gordon (She’ll always be Harchester United’s Chairwoman to me!).
Carla Connor debuted in Coronation Street in December 2006, as the wife of Paul and Sister-in-Law of Liam who had just purchased Underworld from Danny Baldwin (played by Bradley Walsh). Her arrival coincided with her husband buying the business behind her back, as Carla had the money used earmarked for her own children’s clothes business. Not wishing to put her plans aside, Carla immediately stirred up controversy by operating her own business under the radar, putting on illegal nightshift overtime for the Underworld machinists. In true soap fashion, it all very much hit the fan as Polish employee Kasia fell down the stairs and was killed during the illegal shift. Rather than dialing 999, Carla ran her husband and confessed her activity. Not wanting to risk the penalties that may have been bought about by informing the authorities right away, Paul waited until the following morning and claimed that Kasia had fallen after coming into work early and the storyline kind of went away from there in very a very unsoaplike manner. At the time this was very quizzical ending, but in retrospect it did set the pattern for the way the entire Connor family did (and have done since) everything in a slightly shifty, not quite ‘by the book’ way, and laid the groundwork for the next big event involving the family which had very shifty elements indeed.
Liam had been seeing Leanne Battersby, and she was welcomed into the family, using her sudden wealth to go into business with Carla, who after the Kasia incident was intent on making her business legit. Once again though, it all came crashing down as the source of Leanne’s money was revealed to be prostitution, and that Paul had been one of her clients, with Leanne being the latest in a series of illicit liaisons. Carla, furious at the revelation, announced she would be divorcing Paul, sending her husband into a rage as he blamed Leanne. With Carla drowning her sorrows, Paul kidnapped Leanne, but due to his erratic driving, crashed and later died of his injuries, with Leanne narrowly escaping. Understandably at odds with Leanne, Carla, mourning her husband opted not to go into business with her, instead inheriting Paul’s majority share of Underworld. This immediately caused all sorts of tension with Liam, again laying the bedrock for one of Coronation Street’s biggest long running storylines in the history of the show.
Although while she was overcoming the death of Paul she rejected him, soon after Carla was involved with business contact Tony Gordon. Liam, suspicious of Tony’s motives, tried to convince Carla not to pursue the relationship, and in the heat of the moment the pair kissed, forcing them both to consider their feelings for each other, even as Liam planned his wedding with Maria Sutherland. Liam denied his feelings and continued to pursue his relationship with Maria, but Carla didn’t give up easily and confronted Liam, trying to convince him to spilt with his fiance, but failed to do so. In what seemed a last gasp attempt, Carla turned up at the wedding but that only resulted in Maria, who had previously been intimidated by the glamourous Carla, standing up to her and slapping her defiantly in the bathroom at the reception.
Carla, reeling after the wedding, broke off her relationship with Tony, but only a short time later Tony proposed and she accepted. Of course, nothing runs smoothly in Weatherfield, and when Liam and Maria’s marriage hit the rocks following the stillbirth of their child, Carla comforted her former Brother in Law, leading to them giving into temptation and sleeping together. Rosie Webster saw them kiss and took a photo on her phone (which factors in later). When Liam and Maria reconciled, a furious Carla decided that she needed a clean break from Liam, and wanted him out of her business. She blackmailed Liam into selling his shares in Underworld by threatening to tell Maria about their affair, but only two months later opted to buy into Liam’s business venture, in a deal that was kept secret from both Tony and Maria.
Maria Connor (nee Sutherland)
Soon after that, Tony saw the picture on Rosie’s phone, and started plotting to have Liam taken out of the equation. Carla meanwhile in the buildup to her wedding spent another night with Liam. She planned to call off her wedding to be with Liam, but on discovering that Maria was pregnant again, lied and told Liam she didn’t love him. On the night before Carla was due to marry Tony, Liam was killed by the man hired by Tony, which devastated Carla. The wedding was postponed for a short time, but eventually went ahead in December of 2008. Following the honeymoon, Carla and Tony returned to Maria’s allegations that Tony had Liam killed, but Carla stood by her new husband and refused to believe her.
To convince Maria he was not responsible, Tony bribed another man who had fallen foul of his violent and explosive nature, Jed Stone, to come to Weatherfield and sing his praises publicly, in spite of the fact that he had nearly killed him when Jed confronted him previously. The ruse worked and Maria bought the story, but the convenience of the situation awoke suspicions in Carla’s mind. She tracked Jed down and was shocked to see the bruises on his neck that resulted from Tony’s attack on him. She also managed to trace the man Tony had used to kill Liam, Jimmy Dockerson, who confirmed what Tony had done. With this in her armoury she confronted her husband, who locked them both in the Underworld factory. Carla told Tony she had always loved Liam and not him. After she demanded the truth from Tony, he confessed to killing Liam. Carla leaves quickly, horrified at Tony’s confession. She filed for divorce and left her former colleague Luke Strong, to look after her business interests.
Carla flees Tony
In reality, this absence was not originally planned for Carla, but was written in when Alison King became pregnant and needed time off. It was however a very logical temporary departure, and really that has been a very impressive thing throughout Carla’s stint in Coronation Street. I often criticise Soap writers for poor writing as a result of a lack of long term planning and their habit of realistic writing giving way to melodrama, ruining the ‘kitchen sink’ integrity that should always be present in a Soap Opera. However in the case of Carla (and indeed Paul and Liam Connor and Tony Gordon) everything up to the present day has felt well prepared, with sensible development, and well established bedrock for plots so things don’t happen out of the blue. This is all the more amazing given the subject matter of the Tony Gordon storyline, which would ordinarily be prime material for a massively overblown farce. As well as the writing, Alison King deserves credit for producing a very well rounded character. Just before her debut, a Coronation Street spokeswoman stated that
"the term 'dosh does not make you posh' was made for Carla"
and King has made that combination of glamourous with common roots very tangible in a portrayal that is quite difficult to dissect, demonstrating the complexity of the character makeup. That trend of logical development does however look to be breaking quite rapidly on the part of the writers (more on which in a moment), but first we have to bring Carla’s story up to the present day!
Following King’s maternity leave, Carla made a shock return, phoning Tony on the day of Maria’s son’s (also name Liam) Christening. Tony had since begun a relationship with Maria, which began out his guilt at leaving Maria a widow, but developed into a deeper bond. Through retaining contact with Leanne Battersby, Carla knew of the relationship , and demanded Tony call off the engagement, sell his share of the Underworld business and leave Weatherfield for good, or else she would blow his cover. Tony, who had long been trying to atone for what he had done, returned to his old ways and contacted Jimmy Dockerson, asking him to kill Carla. Jimmy attacked Carla, but she knocked him out with a candlestick (very Cluedo) and believed she herself had inadvertently killed Jimmy. Tony took advantage of the situation and said he would cover up in exchange for Carla’s silence. Carla left once again, swearing revenge as she did.
Carla turns into Colonel Mustard
Carla returned after being contacted by the police after Tony turned himself in. Initially implicated herself as part of Tony’s misdeeds, she was eventually let off, and although she faced a frosty reception from the residents of Coronation Street who had heard of the accusations against her, settled back into a relatively normal life as owner and manager of Underworld. Since then, Carla has had a more ordinary role, and in doing so a more human side has been given to the character, especially in the empathic way she helped Sally Webster during her cancer scare. Her most recent scenes have been with the returning Nick Tilsley, as the pair try and drum up enough business to save the factory in a recession driven storyline.
However, I’m writing this pretty much on the eve of Coronation Street potentially spoiling almost three years of excellent writing, producing and acting. For those who don’t want the episodes to be spoiled for them, I’ll avoid any details, but in short they may in one evening manage to turn an earthy, human and indeed quite cerebral (especially for a Soap) long term storyline into the melodramatic mush I have just extolled them for avoiding. I’ll write more on this next week, when I will have seen the final outcome. I will also warn anybody who doesn’t want the storyline spoiled for them to avoid Carla’s wikipedia page, as someone has written the events of the next week or so out in their entirety.
Next week, seeing as the subject is en vogue, we will look at Carla’s ex-husband Tony Gordon and his extremely unpredictable villainous run!
Now here I would normally write about the current goings on in shows that have impressed me, but given that I am so far behind on my Sky + shows I’m a little bit short of material. Just let it be said I have two episodes of Luther, two of Junior Apprentice, FOUR of Strike Back, last Saturday’s Doctor Who (hailed as the second best of this series by MMM Impresario Eoin), two episodes of Outnumbered, two of Stargate: Universe, an episode each of Damages, CSI: New York, The Mentalist and Law and Order, about four or five In the Actor’s Studio and about twelve Shaun the Sheep (which is required viewing of anybody and everybody. It’s just so damn funny!). There will be a few marathon sessions this weekend as I strive to catch up!
So as mentioned earlier, it’s actuall quite a relief that this week is a slow one for new series. Nonetheless, there are a few things we can peruse.
We kick off this week with our sole highlight. Gone are the days of Trinny and Susannah, or that pair who the BBC hired to replace them, insulting the guests and generally acting in a very catty manner. Gok’s Fashion Fix continues Gok Wan’s reign as King of the self improvement show. With a healthy combination of modest but fashionable designs that take into account the person being madeover’s tastes and real, positive self-affirmation, Wan’s empathic approach has won him many fans and is makes for some real ‘feel good’ moments. While the host may be a bit flamboyant for some tastes, it really is worth getting past the slight camp veneer, because underneath is a very poignant show that is extremely enjoyable.
Normally any show with live music is a guaranteed highlight from me, but this one has forced me to dust off the ol’ televisual purgatory section, due to it’s association with the bane of intelligent television anywhere, Hollyoaks. The Hollyoaks Music Show is just such a bizarre concept too, with artists of all genres playing on the Hollyoaks set. The question that troubles me is just…’why?’, why is it on the Hollyoaks set? What’s wrong with artists playing in a dedicated studio with an ordinary performance feel? The crossover appeal can’t be that great, especially as the artists peforming (Diana Vickers and Cascada are on the first episode for example) are extremely popular, and I can’t see non-fans of the artists being drawn in just because they are fans of the show who’s set they are using. The only conclusion I can think of is some bizarre gimmicking of the show to tie in with the dire melodramatic schmaltz, which leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth, but live music is live music, so I’m not going to completely dismiss this right away.
Of course no week would be complete without some horrors in the schedule, and this time the game show genre has thrown a brace of evil our way. The Million Pound Drop Live is a gimmicked game show with that most awful of things, audience interaction and participation, which is always death to any show. Think of it as a combination of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? and The Daz Doorstep Challenge. The lovely Davina McCall presides and will give it her 100% enthusiastic all which may drag at least her segments into respectibility, but somebody really needs to find her a vehicle that will finally give her her due on television.
It’s ITV however who can be relied upon to try and outdo themselves when it comes to violently bad game shows. This has ammo for Robert Seidelman’s Game Show Garbage written all over it too! The Chase is a horribly over the top ‘dramatic’ game show, with forced tension oozing out of every pore. With bizarrely dressed ‘house’ competitors and desperately cheesy attempts to create something with gravitas, this will go in the trash along with Take Me Out and every other ITV presentation in the last 6 months. As with our previous show and Davina, Bradley Walsh deserves much better. Currently carrying Law and Order: UK and a horrible and doomed game show are certainly below him.
I’ve just got one thing to add to these two game shows…
PLAY THEM OFF KEYBOARD CAT!!
Once again I leave you to enjoy the keyboarding kitty! Keep your eyes peeled for the next edition of One Word Comic Reviews on Monday, and as promised, my second M*A*S*H column is coming asap! Until next time, send any feedback to chris@multimediamouth or in the comments below and remember to always stay safe!
Patrick Wayne- Game Show Host: Tic Tac Dough (1990-1991)
It’s not easy being a game show host. It’s probably one of the hardest jobs in television. You have to keep track of all the rules and the nuances of the game, make sure you know what you’re doing up there under the bright lights, and not to mention look like you genuinely care about the show and not give off the presence of being a complete phony. Some people fail at these things that makes a game show host good. For instance, William Shatner came off as melodramatic and looked like he was ill at ease on Show Me The Money, Rolf Benirschke didn’t know all of the rules to Wheel of Fortune, thus creating the memorable moment of him looking blankly at the camera telling people “I don’t know what to do next.” Sure these two hosts were bad, but they looked like Pat Finn compared to Patrick Wayne.
Patrick Wayne is probably more well known as The Duke’s son. Yup, Patrick Wayne is John Wayne’s flesh and blood. And like his father, Patrick Wayne was a fine actor. He got his start as a young lad in unaccredited roles in Rio Grange and The Sun Shines Bright. Eventually as he got older, he became a fixture in westerns in both the movies and Television, most notably in Have Gun, Will Travel and The Rounders. As the 70s rolled on, he continued to make frequent appearances in movies and television in guest spots, eventually becoming the host of his own variety show in 1980 called The Monte Carlo Show.
Although the show didn’t last that long, he was decent enough as host. After The Monte Carlo Show got axed, he continued to do movies and guest spots on television, especially in the hit 1988 film, Young Guns. Then 1990 came around and it was announced that Dan Enright was bringing back the classic show, Tic Tac Dough. After trying out a few hosts, Enright settled on Patrick Wayne. Then the first show came through the airwaves, and all the hopes that people had for the revival completely went down the drain. It all started when Patrick Wayne said these words; “Thank you and welcome to our show, Tic Tac is Back! We’ve made several changes and I know you’re gonna like them.” He tossed it to Larry Van Nuys, a decent enough announcer who’s known for doing FM Radio in Los Angeles, and after the contestant introductions, hopes sank even lower.
He seemed to be very stiff and very unmotivated in the banter he’d have between contestants, sometimes he wouldn’t even talk to the contestants and just say, “Are you ready to play the game?” in a very fake excited voice. And when he would talk to the contestants, it was very painful to watch. Sometimes, you’d just cringe at the questions and the banter that would go on. It gets even worse from there as Patrick would in the most monotonous voice you could think of, read off the categories and the rules. Then once the game began we get treated to the most overexhubrated “Is Right” in the history of game shows.
Patrick Wayne would continue to go on in this manner until that pivotal moment in the game where we’d either have someone go for a block or a win. He’d become very excited telling someone, in a very joyous voice, “YOU BLOCK!” The game went on and when that pivotal moment came, he launched the most mockworthy statement in game show history. “YOUUUUUUUUUU WIIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!” When he said that, the writing was on the wall. We thought his hosting couldn’t be worse. Well, when we got to the bonus game, we found out that it got much, much worse.
At the bonus game, he’d start off by telling the people there’s a dragon and a dragon slayer on the board, usually quipping that the dragon is a “Bad Dude” and the dragon slayer is a “Good Dude”. I guess Patrick was trying to reach out to the younger crowd by saying dude and the like. What also doesn’t help is that he spent around 2 minutes describing the rules to the bonus game when a more competent host could have spent only 30 seconds doing that. It’s like what Marc Summers said in an interview, “As a host, you have to explain semi-complicated things within 30 seconds, otherwise people are going to change the channel.” Well, people did change the channel after the first episode.
Now most people would have considered it “First Show Jitters” and that he’d get better as time wore on. Well, those people were dead wrong. Patrick Wayne stayed the same throughout the show’s run. Still being monotonous, still being hyper after someone makes a successful block or wins the game, still taking 2 minutes to explain the bonus game. It was this type of hosting that got him the distinction for being one of the main killers of the show. Not to mention, him being completely blasted by Bill Pullman in a sketch on a 1991 episode of Saturday Night Live. He is widely considered to be the worst game show host in television history. While that might be somewhat of an exaggeration, it’s not farfetched.
Yes, it’s still not known to this date why he was tapped to host this show. Maybe he had that name of “Wayne” that got him the gig, or maybe he had a really good pilot taping that we’ve never seen before and that he was really good there. I’m wondering who was to blame for him becoming a game show host and thinking he’d make a great one. Well, we’d have to go all the way back to 1982 to find out the answer to that one. The one game show host that thought he’d make a great one was…
Yup, Jim Lange thought he’d make a great host. Well, looks like he was dead wrong on that aspect. But that’s enough bashing Jim.
After the disaster that was Patrick Wayne’s game show hosting career, he decided to go back to what he knows best; acting. Although his career never fully recovered from the debacle that was TTD 90, he still managed to get roles in various TV shows and movies. He doesn’t like to talk about the show, so I’m guessing he is genuinely embarrassed about it. Well, let’s just say that makes millions of us.
Game Show Garbage can also be found at Robert Seidelman’s own site here
You can contact him at email@example.com
What up TTWTWB fans!? Welcome to another edition of the column that has literally fans. As always we’ll kick off with a theme, this week from Holby City. ‘Maggie May’ by Rod Stewart.
We’ve all the usual ingredients this week, and of course we start off with a visit to Soap land!
As promised, this week we’ll be taking a look at Soap’s favourite Vet, Paddy Kirk.
Arriving in Emmerdale in 1997, Paddy’s tenure could best be defined by two predominant features; A lengthy list of failed romances (including two marriages) and his close friendship with Marlon Dingle which has provided many hilarious moments, and a fair number of quite touching scenes. To address the first of these things, it’s time to break out the ol’ bullet points. If ever there were a clear sign that Soap writers can’t leave happy couples well alone, this is it!
- After first appearing as a locum for Zoe Tate in the Veterinary Surgery, Paddy was immediately drawn to Mandy Dingle, but despite the couple’s love for each other, Mandy instead married her cousin Butch (Soap Demi-incestual relationship #38272) after being paid off by Paddy’s Mother.
- Briefly dated Bernice Blackstock, but on a date with her ended up proposing to Mandy (now split from Butch) who accepted.
- Married Mandy in 1999, but split and divorced 2 years later after learning of her affair with her Father’s carer Neil.
- Fell for Emily Dingle (who had also been married to Butch Dingle, and was left a widow after his death) and after dating for a short while married in 2002 in an impromptu ceremony, stepping in when Marlon and Tricia’s wedding didn’t go ahead.
Paddy and Emily on their wedding day
- Things were happy for a time, and the couple even fostered a child who turned out to be Debbie Dingle. Of course, the writers got itchy feet here and Paddy had an affair with Emily’s boss Viv. Emily had a breakdown as a result and the couple divorced bitterly.
- Via a practical joke by employee Jo, Paddy met Toni Daggert who he fell for but she didn’t reciprocate.
- Paddy got close to Delilah Dingle, but the relationship was broken up by the presence of Toni who realised she did in fact love Paddy. Paddy and Toni eventually split however after Paddy refused to marry her.
- In 2008 Paddy fell for yet ANOTHER Dingle (there pretty much is an endless stream of them) in Chastity, and the pair ended up living together, all the while forming a familial bond with Chas’ son, Aaron (more on whom in a bit). Chas ended up leaving Paddy for her ex, Carl King.
It’s pretty clear that Paddy’s love life has been put through the ringer by Emmerdale‘s producers a number of times, which as mentioned is pretty much par for the course when it comes to Soaps, but it is very worth mentioning that actor Dominic Brunt who plays Paddy is a very capable actor who has made every dramatic scene very significant and extremely watchable with great understated performances, which is especially important when he has had to act opposite some of the worst Soap over-actors in the past. With a character as likeable as Paddy though (and herein lies one of Brunt’s finest assets), who really draws you in as a viewer and makes you care about him because he is such a convincing and down to earth ‘everyman’ character, largely free of Soap cliches in personality, often you’re left wishing they would give him a break and have an extended period of happiness. This just makes it all the more disappointing when the writers ‘turn the screw’ again and again. The performance will be great, but the writing of that side will leave you flat.
The other defining feature of Paddy however is the one that people will most fondly refer to, and one that will never leave you feeling flat, that being his friendship with Marlon. Paddy and Marlon, Dominic Brunt and Mark Charnock, have such fantastic chemistry on screen, both in dramatic and comedy scenes that they are always a joy to watch. Now Joe Gilgun has left and Eli is no longer around to entertain us, I really hope Paddy and Marlon are given plenty of screen time to make up for it. They manage to make even the most mundane set up dialogue wildly funny and have (and I have no shame in admitting this) moved me to tears on a number of occasions with such convincing vigour in their serious scenes. During Marlon’s last big storyline, when his wife was having an affair with Paddy’s cousin Ross, the scenes where Paddy stuck up for his friend and rebuked Ross were the highlight of a hit and miss plot. When Paddy, along with Eli helped rebuild the devastated Marlon after the marriage ended, the friendship seemed real and credible, which is something that is so often missing from Soap performances, and is something Brunt deserves no end of credit for.
Most recently however has come arguably Paddy’s toughest storyline to date, and one that has gained plaudits and admiration for all the actors involved, revolving around Paddy’s friendship and bond with his ex-partner Chas’ son Aaron. In a rare bit of forethought and long term planning, from early on in Aaron’s run, they had established he was not a ‘bad lad’ as everyone had thought, rather he was a troubled young man who had lacked parental guidance and stability. This was something given to him by his first proper home, with his Mother and Paddy. When Chas and Paddy split, Aaron was particularly angry at his Mother for destroying the comfortable life they were enjoying, and Paddy, who had grown fond of the young man, allowed him to remain living with him, thereby maintaining the positive influence in his life. Despite some initial teething problems, the arrangement worked well, and once again excellent chemistry was shown in the scenes involving the pair. As Aaron’s problems have surfaced again recently as he struggles with his sexuality, resulting in a suicide attempt, his bond with Paddy became strained which led to some of the best acted scenes in the past year, as Paddy tries to help his now practically adopted son.
As well as the stellar performances, it’s nice to see Paddy given some time away from the constant romantic mishaps so Dominic Brunt can flex his acting muscles, although a reuniting with Chas has been teased on a couple of occasions, but no matter what they churn out for us, we can at the very least be sure Paddy will always be an eminently enjoyable character who we can always look forward to seeing on our screens.
Next week our Soap Profiles return to Coronation Street for a look at Carla Gordon/Connor who will be featuring very heavily in the weeks to come!
At this point I could very well continue my rant about the rapidly plummeting quality of Eastenders and Coronation Street in recent weeks (the return of Tracey Barlow in Corrie has been one big unrealistic, horrible annoyance so far) but suffice to say the last week has not encouraged me, and with the news that more characters are being axed in Eastenders and being replaced by horrible bit part gimmick characters, I am very much losing faith in their new Executive Producer Bryan Kirkwood before his shows even start making it to air. With his promises of ‘sexing up’ the show and his blood letting from the current cast, it seems he is determined to turn in it into Hollyoaks which he produced in the past. The worst thing about it all is that all of these actions seem not to be taken in the interests of producing entertaining drama, but rather in the interests of creating controversy and saying ‘look how edgy I am’. If quality descends much further or any more ludicrous plans are announced, I will actually begin considering how regularly I watch Eastenders, and I’m sure I am not the only one feeling that way.
Sigh! Let’s have something cute to cheer me up…
Even baby pandas are discouraged by Bryan Kirkwood. Fact.
But anyhoo, sad pandas aside, we have a whole new week to look forward to, and despite the fact we have a few ugly, UGLY entries, we have a couple of really pleasing highlights to start us of…
We kick off with the lengthy titled Springwatch Signs of Change with Chris Packham, which sounds like some sort of bizarre genre crossover looking into male menopause, but is in fact a fresh look at climate change under the Springwatch banner. Never before has a show been so rejuvenated by a change of personnel! The switch from the curmudgeonly and at times downright rude and abrupt Bill Oddie to the ever youthful Packham has been one that has turned the show into a much loved primetime favourite. Packham isn’t afraid to speak his mind however, and so expect this show to be frank on environmental matters as well as containing the usual informative patter that has made Springwatch so popular.
Our second highlight for the week is a musical offering, in the shape of More Guitar Heroes at the BBC. The BBC has a pretty spectacular video library of musical performances from Rock greats such as Jimi Hendrix, ACDC and others, and is doing a great service in taking advantage of that library. Iconic and forgotten performances alike, this always, always entertains.
However this week, sadly not everything is as entertaining, as between them Five and ITV have combined to give us a brace of suck that may not be equaled for a long time.
We start off with a show that is just an appalling mish mash of ideas. Family Food Fight covers so many genres it’ll make your head spin. Firstly it’s fronted by celebrity chefs, so we have that element. Next we have the fact that families from the general public are on there, adding a reality element. On top of that, those families are competing, so it’s a game show, but it’s also a game show aimed at helping people to cook and eat healthily, so we have the extremely tacked on ‘healthy eating information’ agenda. All that just seems to be overkill and doesn’t do anything to liven up what is an extremely bland looking show. Add to that the fact it’s in a primetime slot, and this could get slaughtered in the ratings very quickly.
Our last lowlight for the week though is ITV pretty much excelling itself. In the last few weeks I have gone on a few diatribes about ITV being at least five or six years behind the cultural zeitgeist when it comes to creating vehicles for relevant stars. The David Dickinson Show may as well have been made up by me to illustrate that point. Take David Dickinson, five years or more past his peak popularity, place him totally out of his area of expertise and give him a live, daily teatime chat show. Yes you read that right. We’re promised topical discussion, a competition called ‘Seal the Deal’ (could they get any closer to Deal or No Deal without geting sued?) and a look at ‘unusual antique collections’…Oh imagine the hilarity there…
Really for me, this marks a clear milestone for ITV. For a long time they have been teetering on the edge of the cliff creatively, and this show is a sign that they have finally plunged into the mire. Clearly somebody there is determined to give Kevin Lygo, who is moving over from Channel 4 to run their programming absolutely nothing to work with. I’ll just finish off this show with one other point, directed openly to ITV. You were inept enough to let Paul O’Grady go thinking you could replace his excellent chat show, just stop trying to do that. He has shown his success was nothing to do with ITV management as he has gone onto even greater heights on Channel 4, so stop trying to capture lightning in a bottle again, because frankly it’s not going to happen. Look for fresh new programming, and for goodness’ sake, STOP REHASHING!
I’ll hand over to a correspondant to summarise my feelings on this…
PLAY THEM OFF KEYBOARD CAT!!
Well I’ll leave the keyboarding kitty to serenade you, thanks for reading. Don’t forget to check out our new feature, One Word Comic Reviews, and keep an eye out for the second part of my M*A*S*H series, as well as another brand new feature, Game Show Garbage! Until next week, send any feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org or in the comments below and remember to always stay safe.
Ola mi Amigos and welcome once again to TTWTWB! We kick off this week with a musical offering from CSI: New York: ‘Parting Patterns’ by The Ambience Affair.
I’ve got a few soap opera related things to discuss, as well as our usual previews, but first we’ve got a character to profile!
Back to Walford this week, and I thought we’d have a look at one of the newer characters in Eastenders, the victim of many jokes, Heather Trott, otherwise known as ‘Big Hev’.
‘Hev’ has been around since June 2007, and rather like the character we featured last week, Ashley Peacock, has gone from a comic relief bit part, to a much loved central figure, due in no small part to actress Cheryl Fergison’s ability to perform perfectly deadpan comedy and very understated, realistic emotional scenes.
From the off, there could be no mistake made about Hev’s loyalty, as she was introduced as the cheese and karaoke loving, George Michael obsessed best friend of Shirley Carter. Shirley had largely been up to that point, a hard faced and unpleasant character, and while she had been softened by the death of her ex-husband Kevin Wicks and a partial reconciliation with her children Deano and Carly, Hev became the device to show Shirley’s better nature as a companion who had stuck with her through thick and thin.
At first there seemed to be a very real risk of Hev being seen as an utterly unrealistic caricature of an overweight, slightly simple character, but very soon after her debut, as Hev planned to move in with Shirley, a great deal of light was shone onto her background, showing the viewer exactly why Heather was the person we saw on screen. In a move that bucked the great soap trend of introducing one dimensional characters and fleshing them out over time, we were introduced to Hev’s extremely manipulative and overbearing Mother, Queenie (played excellently by Judy Cornwall). As Fergison herself said when asked about the character…
""It could be perceived [that the character was just about her size], but when you look into the character, there is more depth to her — she's got a terrible mother, there's her background, and so on. You see her eating and, hopefully, people are intelligent enough to go, 'Ah, we can see why she does that.'..."
And thus Hev became a fully rounded character (no pun intended) from the off, meaning she could be thrown into the thick of all things Albert Square straight away after completing her move with Shirley. Early on, Hev fell for Gary Hobbes and was crushed to learn her plans of a dream wedding were going to remain unfulfilled as Gary was already in love with Dawn. Her friendship with Gary and subsequently his best friend Minty led to her first major part of a storyline. Minty, who was engaged to Gary’s Mother, Hazel, had entered a competition with his intended to win a ‘dream wedding’ package. Love never runs smooth in soaps of course, and Hazel baled on Minty with the wedding looming. Hev, who was increasingly having feelings for Minty, stepped into the breach in perhaps the finest example of a sham wedding ever, with the intention of splitting the prize money equally. Hev tried to win Minty over, but only a month in, saw him kissing another woman. Crushed, Hev got the marriage annulled, despite holding out hope for a reconcilliation.
Minty and Heather's Wedding
After that blow, which allowed Fergison to really show her range for the first time (with what amounted to excellent performances, free of soap histrionics and packed with really palpable disappointment being exuded from Hev), Heather returned to her comedy beginnings, most notably with a memorable episode in which Hev and Shirley attempted to get into George Michael’s house, which led to Hev finding her ‘lucky yoghurt lid’ straight from what she believed to be Michael’s rubbish. Around this time Hev also became a regular feature on Harry Hill’s TV Burp (played in parody by actor Steve Benham), which saw her growing popularity shoot up even further. Viewers wanted more from Hev, and they got it in the form of her biggest storyline to date.
Following the loss of her asthma inhaler, Hev was sent to hospital by her Doctor for further tests, stating concerns about her general health. In a huge bombshell, it was revealed that Hev was in fact pregnant. Deeply shocked by the news, Hev initially considered aborting her baby, but after babysitting Bobby Beale discovered her maternal side and opted to keep the baby. Initially after Shirley discovered her friend was pregnant, she urged Hev to have the child adopted after it’s birth, but the close friends reconciled and agreed they were going to raise the child together, and indeed with Hev’s gentle nature contrasting Shirley’s seemed to be a good set up, if somewhat unconventional, for the child.
Heather with baby George
Going into labour immediately following her baby shower, Heather gave birth to a boy which of course she named ‘George Michael’. This led to one of the most highly anticipated ‘whodunnits’ in recent memory, as Hev rang the Father of her baby. Most people expected Phil or Billy Mitchell, but very few guessed the real outcome. 18 year old Darren Miller was revealed to be the Dad in a storyline which shook both characters’ lives up in a big way. Darren remains tentatively involved with George’s life despite the difficulties encountered.
Since the big reveal, Hev has gone back to being more of a peripheral character, particularly as the interminable Archie Mitchell storylines dominated Eastenders, but notably after moving out of her flat shared with Shirley, her on screen appearances have revolved around her struggle to cope with the financial demands of being a single parent, most recently leading to the equally (if not even more) destitute Billy Mitchell and his foster son Jay moving in to share the financial burdens of rent. Hev is poised for a more central role however, as Eastenders producers have several storylines based around her life as a Single Mother planned for the near future, something which, as long as said writers don’t revert to type and have an endless stream of misery for the character, we can all look forward to.
I mentioned initially that Heather has become popular due in a large part to Cheryl Fergison, and so I will leave it to her to explain just why she and Heather click so well and entertain us so often.
"...there are so many layers to her. She'll do anything for anybody — she's very loyal as a friend — but she does have her low moments, and she has absolute highs. I always call her Heather Hopeful because that's what she is. Her cup is always half full. [...] I'm hoping people will see it's not just about what she looks like. You don't have to be a big person to know that people comfort eat, or to say, 'These terrible things happen in life, that's why she behaves like that.' ...Hollyoaks is full of tiny blondes, but people like the fact Heather's normal and we haven't seen that for a long time in soaps"
Next week we’re back to The ‘Dales for a look at a personal favourite, Paddy Kirk.
Speaking of Emmerdale, last Friday we bid farewell to a character and an actor who I have sung the praises of on more than one occasion, Eli, played by Joe Gilgun. In the wake of the departure of illegal immigrant Olena, whom Eli had fallen for in a big way, Gilgun’s excellent portrayal of his fiery reaction really stood out, and reached an emotional crescendo as Eli said his goodbyes to his Brother, Marlon. The goodbye scene was deeply moving, as Eli reminisced with Marlon about their childhood, and left me in no doubt that given a chance to succeed, Joe Gilgun will be a much bigger star in no time. Goodbye Eli, and thank you Joe for entertaining your fans so!
Eli says Goodbye
Very much on the downside however, I have to register some real displeasure at the storyline routes currently being taken in Eastenders and Coronation Street. Both are now careering wildly towards ‘big’ moments, which can only mean one of three things. Explosions, extreme melodrama and an utter depature from any realism. We’re due to be ‘treated’ to a prison break, the most unrealistic plea bargain in television history and a hostage situation in Corrie, and rumours abound of more over the top Mitchell shenanigans in Eastenders. Emmerdale might be considered the poor relation of the three major soaps, but the so called ‘big’ two could definately do to look at their formula for much more down to earth, human storylines that have paid great dividends in the shape of a growing viewership. Characters are so much more real and likeable, and it makes for a much more enjoyable show to become invested in.
I also have to declare my continuing admiration for Doctor Who, as Matt Smith continues to dazzle and the writing keeps me gripped in one of the most tense and downright scarey episodes for a long time. My only request is that they give us more warning next time those damn Weeping Angels appear. Those things are bloody terrifying!
But anyhow, I’d best not blow all my ranting steam on soaps and Doctors, not when I have a whole new week to rip to shreds, even if that week has more highlights than lowlights! You heard me right! In what actually continues an impressive run of form for new series’, the scales this week are very much tipped into the good side!
And that good side starts with a couple of Olympic themed shows. It may be two years yet until the Olympics hits London, but the promotional machine starts right now! In It to Win It 2012 is pretty much what it says on the tin; the usual Dale Winton fronted Lottery quiz show with an Olympic twist. What exactly that twist will be has not been made clear from any of the previews available, so it could very well be a tenuous link at best, but the show at it’s core is very entertaining, despite the Producers’ best efforts to make the contestants unbearable by having them mull over every answer in as annoying and mundane a fashion as possible. Winton keeps things ticking along nicely and the simple format makes it suitable Saturday evening viewing. Also with an Olympic slant, Richard Hammond’s Engineering Connections returns with a focus on the building of the 2012 Olympic structures. Hammond’s shows all follow a fairly similar formula; introduce the subject being discussed, show it being built/blown up/working complete, then break down the process that you just saw into explainable bits. Unfortunately the shows do try a bit too hard to mimic Top Gear, and tend to turn 15 minutes of material into 30 minutes, leaving you slightly beaten over the head with the explanations, but they remain accessible and interesting nonetheless, and give a greater sense of appreciation and respect for, in this case, the structures being examined.
A perhaps surprising entry in the highlights this week as Bargain Hunt returns. While nowhere near as popular as it once was, it remains the best of the antiques/bric-a-brac shows in the daytime schedule with a simple and enjoyable format, and is presented by the always amiable Tim Wonnacott who suits the daytime style to a tee.
Rounding out our highlights for the week are two popular shows albeit in slightly different formats. Junior Masterchef is pretty clear by it’s title as is Junior Apprentice, but both shows retain the hugely enthralling presentation their grown-up cousins have made famous. The ‘Junior’ twist is particularly interesting when it comes to The Apprentice, as I’m looking forward to seeing if a younger group can avoid the frankly bizarre pitfalls the adult contestants find themselves falling into every year. Masterchef is enjoyable no matter the contestants, and could genuinely provide one or more of the kids competing with a chance to forge a great career even this early in life. Both definate must-watch shows for me.
Despite these high points however, we have three shows guaranteed to put a damper on any excitement for TV this coming week.
Our lowlights kick off with a clear example of ITV incompetence. The Seasons with Alan Titchmarsh is about 10 years too late to capture Titchmarsh’s fame and the peak of gardening shows. It’s watered down, simplified mush, removing any enjoyment from gardening and making it seem the most mundane of things, all the while presented by Titchmarsh who, unmartialed as he apparently was on the BBC is free to smarm, slime and simper his way through whatever vehicle ITV throw his way. Truly awful programming.
Up next in our hall of shame for the week is Derren Brown Investigates. This will probably draw big figures, but after Brown’s frankly contrived Lottery fiasco I’ve lost any faith in Channel 4 finding a good premise for him. The previews of this show read like a bad Derek Acorah programme, so I’m not holding out a lot of hope for the rejuvinating of Brown’s Channel 4 career with this garbage.
And finally this week, BB3 embarrases itself (I could change the name of my column to that really), with the baffling return of Bizarre ER. Shock programming at it’s worst does not help the BBC’s arguments for justifying the License fee!
Well, that’s about it from me this week, keep checking the site for some exciting new media content, send any feedback to email@example.com or in the comments below, and remember to always stay safe!
Hey there everybody, and welcome to another edition of TTWTWB, our weekly trawl through the heights, frights and delights that are coming up in the next week on the small screen! As always we kick off with our theme, once again provided by the ever reliable Stargate Universe. This is Alexi Murdoch’s ‘All My Days’
We’ve got a few things to discuss before we get into our preview-y goodness, namely FlashForward nearly giving me heart failure and the continuing mass exodus/expulsion from Eastenders, but before then we have the matter of our weekly feature to address!
As promised, we’re taking a trip to Weatherfield this week, and I thought with the news that a modern day Coronation Street institution is soon to be leaving in the shape of Ashley Peacock, we’d take a look at everybody’s favourite squeaky butcher.
Ashley was first introduced to Corrie as the nephew of Fred Elliot (I say, the nephew of Fred Elliot!) and was largely used for comic relief alongside his ebullient Uncle, working in his butcher shop. He soon became one of the most commonly impersonated soap characters, due to his softly spoken, squeaky voice (which was later revealed by actor Steven Arnold who portrays Ashley to have been an aspect he played up in the character’s formative years, so as to provide a stark contrast to the big booming voice of John Savident who played his Uncle), and was quickly a popular part of the soap’s extended ensemble cast.
As Fred became a bigger part of the show, so did Ashley and as the character was fleshed out, Arnold showed he was able to provide more than just simple comic relief, as Ashley became romantically involved with Zoe Tattersall (Joanne Frogatt), a young single Mother who was unsure whether she would keep her baby. After an on-again-off-again relationship, where Ashley pleaded with her to keep the baby and remain with him, the pair split and Zoe left. More romance followed, with the unlikely pairing of Ashley with glamorous (well, glamorous by Coronation Street standards) hairdresser Maxine (Tracy Shaw), herself largely a comedy relief character at that stage, but the relationship ended temporarily when Zoe returned, this time on the run from a group of people that she had been associated with, (this storyline was one that really came out of left field and then was never really elaborated on. Joanne Frogatt portrayed the bewildered and frightened Zoe excellently, and indeed was supported by some superb acting from Steven Arnold, but the group concerned was never really shown outside of a few members and their motivations/beliefs were never expanded upon then sort of went away in a hurry as Zoe eventually left as part of the group, with no real closure given) and sought help from Ashley. Ashley welcomed back Zoe with open arms, but she left again soon after, again leaving Ashley in an emotional farewell.
Ashley and Maxine reunited a short time after Zoe left, and were married in 1999. There were a few more daft comedy storylines, mainly centred around Ashley teaching Maxine to drive and Maxine trying to convert Ashley, a butcher, to vegetarianism, but despite the aplomb with which these were acted, Steven Arnold had already shown he was able to do much more, and was eventually given another meaty plot in the shape of Maxine falling pregnant a short time after having an affair with Street Doctor, Matt Ramsden (It’s pretty much a given in Soaps that unless a Doctor is Dr Legg of Eastenders, they will inevitably have massive character flaws and not spend a great deal of time actually being a Doctor). The truth about the affair came out and the resultant confrontation between Ashley and Maxine caused the child to be born prematurely. Young Joshua was healthy, but Ashley and Maxine’s marriage was anything but. Tensions raged on between the pair, as Ashley desperately kept the fact the child may not be his from becoming public, but unable to forget what had happened, he insisted on a paternity test. For once in soapland though, things, at least on this occasion ended happily as Ashley forgave Maxine and realised he loved Joshua so much that he didn’t need the test, he was happy to be a family man and leave Maxine’s indiscretions in the past.
Ashley and Maxine's Wedding Day
The happiness was relatively short lived however (it’s a soap, people can never be happy too long) as Maxine was murdered by serial killer (every soap should have one…) Richard Hillman. Once again, Steven Arnold here deserves props for his acting skills as his was the most credible (and indeed very moving) performance in the whole series of events. Richard Hillman was a cartoonish villain and especially by that stage his storyline had descended into a farce, Tracy Shaw did her best, but her skills very much lay on the comic side of things, but Ashley’s devastation at discovering Maxine’s death was one of the most convincingly portrayed reactions in soap history.
In the wake of Maxine’s death, Ashley very nearly lost his son, as it was revealed that Matt Ramsden was in fact Joshua’s biological father, but in a rare act of nobility in a soap, Matt stepped aside and allowed Ashley to raise the child given their strong bond. Ashley then struggled as a single parent and eventually conceded to hiring a nanny, Claire. As soap tradition dictates, the introduction of a nanny brings one of two things, either a psychotic character or a romantic interest for the parent concerned. In this case, Claire turned out to be the perfect woman for Ashley and the pair were married in 2004. Julia Haworth, who plays Claire and Steven Arnold have great on screen chemistry and gave way to one of the most convincing married couples on TV, so this was all pleasing for the viewer, if a little predictable. The wedded bliss was broken however by the revelation that Fred, whom Ashley had always called ‘Uncle’ was in fact his biological Father. When Ashley’s biological Mother fell pregnant, she turned down Fred’s proposal of marriage, and so when Ashley was born he was given to Fred’s sister Beryl who was married but childless. Ashley grew up oblivious to the truth and had called Beryl ‘Mum’ his whole life. The shock caused a rift between Ashley and Fred for a time, but the pair eventually reconciled, and Ashley began to call Fred ‘Dad’, forming a closer bond than ever.
Ashley and Claire's Wedding Day
On their first anniversary, Claire announced to Ashley that she was pregnant and in 2006, gave birth to a son who they named Thomas, but the happiness was extremely short lived as Claire sank into post-partum depression and was eventually sectioned for a short time. This storyline came under a great deal of criticism for the way in which the issue of post-partum was dealt with, amidst fears that the ordeal Claire went through would discourage people from seeking help for the condition in the future. Claire was only sectioned for a short time, but it was felt the damage may have already been done.
Ashley and Claire during the post-partum storyline
As far as storylines go, things didn’t get much better for Ashley despite the reuniting of his family, as his Father, Fred died on his wedding day. Steven Arnold’s performance once again shone out, but the aftermath of Fred’s death was addled with frankly stupid storylines concerning arguments over who would take possession of his ashes. In what was a happy note for the soap couple, and quite a touching tribute to Fred who had been a popular character for some time, baby Thomas’ name was changed to ‘Freddie’, which did give a nice sense of closure to the plot.
Ashley once again had his world rocked shortly after in a hastily re-written storyline. A house fire led to allegations that Claire was once again suffering from depression as baby Freddie went missing for a short time. Originally Freddie was supposed to have gone missing for a longer time in a kidnap storyline, but this was dropped after the abduction of Madeleine McCann hit the news. The re-write re-introduced a friend Claire had made while undergoing counselling, Casey Carswell, who was later revealed to have been the abducter and arsonist. Claire suspected all along, but Casey spun things to make her look guilty. Claire left Ashley for a short time, furious at the allegations against her, which opened the door for Casey to lead Ashley astray with a very out of character extra-marital affair. Claire rumbled Casey, and she was imprisoned, but Claire then had a very hard time forgiving Ashley. Fortunately for fans of happy endings, Claire did forgive Ashley following persuasion from Audrey Roberts, and the pair reconciled.
Of course, this being a soap opera the happiness was short lived and Ashley nearly became a widower for the second time when Claire was rushed to hospital with a blood clot following a miscarriage. The drama soon though turned back to the familiar comedy storylines for Ashley as Claire, fearful of falling pregnant again and inducing another bout of depression, requested Ashley get a vasectomy. Ashley initially bottled out of the procedure, leading to some very Carry On-esque scenes, riddled with innuendo, but eventually conceded to having the snip. After this long run of big storylines though, Ashley and Claire have both moved into the background as peripheral characters but, with the news that both characters are to leave the soap around the 50th anniversary celebrations in December of this year, we’re promised a big exit for the pair.
Honestly, I really hope this is one of those times where soap convention is left by the wayside and the pair get a ‘happily ever after’ sendoff, because after all the heartache we’ve seen two beloved characters endure it would be nice for them to leave on a positive note. Apparently, both Steven Arnold and Julia Haworth approached the producers and asked for another meaty storyline, but were instead told that they were getting the proverbial axe. Obviously we can’t know for sure, but given the way that was reported, and the fact Coronation Street producers have given actors a rough time in the past (See Platt, Martin), this does come off a little bit like a ‘powerplay’ from the bigwigs, and one which could prove to be very foolish. In the shape of Steven Arnold they lose one of their most accomplished actors and best loved characters, and given they desperately need a married couple to stick together to fill the void left by the absence of Jack and Vera, it does seem daft to not capitalise on the chemistry Ashley and Claire have. Regardless of the circumstances though, and whatever December holds, I certainly can say without a doubt that I will miss Ashley Peacock a great deal.
Next week we’ll be taking a look at another soapstar who is just about to leave, Stacy Slater of Eastenders.
Two down, ten to go! Yes the Eastenders exodus continues with news that Lacey Turner who plays Stacy and Gillian Wright who plays her Mother Jean are also leaving. More worryingly, this adds more credence to the theory that Eastenders is not a happy place to work at the moment, as Turner and Wright are the fifth and sixth actors to leave the soap of their own accord. Add to that the six characters that have been axed by producers (four of whom are mind-boggling choices to leave, only Adam and Danny can be considered failed or dead wood really) and the recent comments from former star Phil Daniels who stated the producers are very out of touch with what the viewing audience want, on top of the planned influx of former characters, all of whom left after long, played out storylines and you can see why some might be unhappy in the work environment on set.
Certainly it does little to encourage continued viewing as the cast is continually chopped and changed and what were only a short time ago, very balanced and considered storylines turn into melodramatic and frankly quite bigoted conclusions. Case in point being the Syed/Christian storyline which was dealt with very carefully in it’s opening stages and treated Islam and people of it’s faith with respect. While it made no mistake of the conflict that exists in the cirumstances of a character like Syed (a Gay Muslim), it showed his faith in a positive light, as something he turned to for strength and comfort. However now as the storyline comes to it’s conclusion, the writers have put themselves in a frankly dispicable position, where no matter the outcome, Islam looks backward and is shown in a very negative light. Of course then there is the issue of the only Christian character other than Dot Cotton being a sociopathic serial killer, and Eastenders in the space of a few months has practically reverted to the cliched pap that was being churned out a few years ago.
Finally before we get into our highlights and lowlights for the week, I have to give HUGE praise to the makers of FlashForward for the UNBELIEVABLY tense finish to the most recent episode in the UK. Benford finding and saving Demetri was one of the finest pieces of suspense based writing I have ever seen. My heart was pounding by the end, and it really rekindled my enthusiasm for the show. Bravo once again to those in charge of FF. You officially have my attention.
I’m in a Rock ‘n’ Roll Band! has Mark Radcliffe looking at what makes the perfect rock band by analysing the different roles and the attributes that make people stand out. It’s an original premise to televise and one which should be ably undertaken by Radcliffe who has been in many bands himself (his autobiography/band history is a definate must-read) with varying success. The ‘ideal band lineup’ is a common discussion point among music fans, and this should put a different spin on things as the interviews and research look closer at what makes a band really work.
BBC2 has another cultural offering for us this week too, in the shape of Modern Masters. Alistair Sooke takes a look at the life and works of the genre defining modern artists, such as Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali and Henri Matisse and how their place in the modern world influenced their art. Quite often in an effort to be high-brow, modern artists are overlooked by cultural shows like this, so it’s a real treat to get time devoted to the subject like this.
Our final highlight of the week is Bremner, Bird and Fortune: The Daily Wind-Up. As the build up to the General Election sweeps over the country, who better than to make everybody feel a little bit easier about things and to take the sour faced nature of politics away than the best satirists around. Look for biting remarks and astonishing improvisation as no political figure is to remain safe!
On the other side of the coin however, we have a show that really is the polar opposite of Modern Masters and Bremner & Co and a solid candidate for worst show of the year already, with Scream If You Know The Answer. Strike one, it’s hosted by the horribly smarmy Duncan James. Strike two, it involved celebrities interacting with the general public which is always death to a tv show and the key factor in making this a massive lowlight is strike three… the fact it’s the most obnoxiously stupid premise for a show since Bring On The Wall as it features celebrities answering questions….WHILE ON A ROLLERCOASTER! Who the hell approved that idea and why are they working in television? Seriously, the premise of this show actually offends me. Watch is becoming a spectacular graveyard for terrible shows of all genres.
Our final lowlight of the week is one that always disappoints me when I have to throw it in the lowlight bin each time a new series starts. Lewis has yet to do anything to convince me that it is anything other than a cheap cash in on John Thaw’s death. I like Kevin Whately, I really do, but even he struggles with the horrifically underdeveloped lead character. This has to rank as one of the worst spinoffs ever.
And on that rather bitter note, I bid thee all farewell for the week. Don’t forget to check out the rest of our site, send any feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org or in the comments below, and remember to always stay safe.
Fear ye not TV fans, for I hath returned! Apologies for last week’s hiatus (stoopid real life!) but as promised, we’re back with a flourish, and we’ll kick things off with a song from the ever reliable Stargate Universe (which has had a stellar soundtrack in it’s short run so far), You Won’t Know by Brand New.
As promised last time out, this week we’re covering Soap’s most long-suffering Vicar, Emmerdale’s Ashley Thomas.
Ever present in Emmerdale since the character debuted in 1996, Ashley has had a pretty torrid run, even by Soap Opera standards. Fortunately, John Middleton who portrays Ashley has managed to keep the character credible which is no small feat when you consider the run of events that he’s dealt with in the last 14 years.
- Within his first few weeks after arriving he had performed a marriage ceremony and then the funeral of that Bride’s Brother.
14 years have seen several lifetimes’ worth of misfortune hit Ashley Thomas, which as I mentioned previously makes it all the more amazing that the character is not a Soap parody by this point. A degree of credit has to lay with the writers in this, as although the number of misfortunes is highly disproportionate, and the writing for the other characters involved in his storylines has been very cliched Soap style shenanigans, Ashley’s parts have remained relatively down to earth and human. In particular most recently, the storyline where Sally Spode drugged Ashley was very sensitively dealt with, and portrayed a very difficult scenario (a man sexually abused by a woman) with the right amount of realism, and in such a way that didn’t belittle the issue. The majority of the credit has to lie with John Middleton however. By not giving way to the Soap histrionics that so many actors resort to, he has managed to keep the character consistent and real, which is a huge deal for maintaining interest in a long running character. Ashley remains pleasantly quiet and ‘buttoned down’, which makes the dramatic scenes all the more impactful and meaningful, such as his recent dilemma where he tried to deal with the abuse alone. What could have been a very melodramatic scene felt achingly gritty as the character finally confessed as the fear and self-punishment boiled over inside. That’s not to say however that the character hasn’t evolved. The growth has been gradual and realistic, ultimately believable as the viewer learns more about the character each time he appears. I truly hope now in the wake of what has been pretty much a year of pretty consistent big stories for Ashley and his family that they get a bit of ‘time off’ and are allowed some storyline ‘happily ever after’ time. Both character and actor have earned it! Plus, how much more could really go wrong for the man!?
Next time out on Soap Profiles we’ll take a look at a Coronation Street mainstay, but which one very much remains down to you. Email me any suggestions, or throw a comment in the boxes at the end of the column.
I mentioned previously that I had a few things I wanted to mention and I’m going to kick that off by firstly giving a HUGE thumbs up to Matt Smith in his role as the new Doctor in Doctor Who. I wrote a little while ago that I wasn’t grabbed by Smith straight away, but after a few episodes of the latest series, I have to admit he has won me over and I am a massive fan of his portrayal. He delivers the non-stop quirky and humorous ‘stream of consciousness’ dialogue that is so central to the Doctor now with aplomb, but where he REALLY shines is when he turns it up a notch and delivers serious, meaningful lines.
When he loses it with the Dalek in the first 3 minutes of that clip…just wow! It has to rank as one of the most powerful performances I’ve ever seen. Matt Smith, you have my adoration.
Something that started last weekend that didn’t get my adoration however was Britain’s Got Talent. I saw a few people around the net raving about some performances, but other than the girl who sang ‘White Cliffs of Dover’ and the dancer Tobias Mead, nothing was standout, and even they weren’t great. Granted her singing was very impressive for a 10 year old, but it wasn’t the immaculate performance some are making, it out to be, and as George Sampson has proved, there is very little progression for solo dancer beyond BGT, and it leaves me with a very flat feeling. Considering it was a longer, special episode to introduce the series too, the quality was extremely poor and I’m already close to writing off this series. We need much, MUCH stronger stuff from this weekend if the show is to have a continuing place in the schedules.
Finally, I have to say what a letdown A Passionate Woman turned out to be. The conclusion of the second episode did tie a lot of things together and dragged the show into respectability for me, but the whole first episode was a dirge, and really only the always excellent Alan Armstrong came out looking good. Kay Mellor appears to be losing her edge when it comes to putting together compelling stories, which is a shame because her shows have in the past been things I’ve looked out for because of their quality.
But anyhow, enough of the past week, it’s time to look into the future and predict the good, the bad and the truly braindead, TTWTWB style! But hold on…what’s this?! Mark it in your calenders Ladies and Gents…today is the first ever TTWTWB…with NO LOWLIGHTS!
You heard me..none, nada, zilch. It’s a pretty thin week when it comes to new shows at all as the schedules are pretty much jammed already. Nonetheless we have a highlight for the week and one that lands straight in the middle!
Five Daughters is our highlight for the week, in what promises to be a hard hitting, dark drama, based on the murder of five women in Ipswich in 2006. It won’t be particularly cheery viewing for obvious reasons, and as it charts the tragic path the women went down, involving drugs and prostitution, the subject matter is likely to get heavy and very emotional, but if you can stomach that side of it, then this should be regarded as a must watch, particularly given the coming together of a superb cast of TV actors and the award winning writer Steven Butchard.
Falling just short of being either a highlight or a lowlight, we round off this week with a preview of The Ricky Gervais Show. This one is very much dependent on which Ricky Gervais shows up. If it’s the Ricky Gervais of The Office and Extras then this could be one of the best animated shows of all time. If however the Ricky Gervais who relies too heavily on crude humour arrives, then this will be a bit of an abomination, and one that is likely to refuse to go away given Gervais’ overall popularity.
Anyhoo, that’s me for the week, don’t forget to check out the great stuff on the rest of MultiMediaMouth, send any feedback (including Soap Profile suggestions) either to email@example.com or in the comments below and remember to always stay safe!
Yo yo yo and what up in a TV critique style-y, and welcome to another edition of TTWTWB. As always I am your host Chris Nelson, and I’m here to bring you a preview of the best and worst on offer in the next week of television. Just thought I’d explain that, although the title makes it fairly moot. Oh well. Our theme this week is the theme music for Damages, seeing as I had to go a week without it!
I honestly don’t think a theme song has ever fit show as well as this.
Well as promised, we start our new Soap feature this week, and with the news that yet another character is leaving Eastenders, I thought we’d take a look at the latest to leave Albert Square, Chelsea Fox.
I’ll be honest from the off here and say that I am not a big fan of the character but I’m not going to be too hard on Tiana Benjamin who portrays Chelsea, as she’s been given a somewhat thankless task. Chelsea, as fans of Eastenders will know, is a bit of an airhead bimbo, and so it’s difficult to judge whether the sometime vacuous appearance of the character is Benjamin acting the character well, or just a plain miscasting who hasn’t really connected with the character to put her over in any other way. In what has become an annoying convention for most soap characters in their early 20s, a large number of her storylines have revolved around her chasing a string of Men and jumping from relationship to relationship. Her list is impressive too, as I recall it as Grant Mitchell, Sean Slater, Warren Stamp, Deano Wicks, Theo Kelly, Ellis Prince, Dr Al Jenkins and most recently Jack Branning. Indeed it was as Grant’s arm candy she was initially introduced before becoming a regular, working in Tanya Branning’s salon before being joined by the rest of her family.
Her relationship with Sean was what launched her first big storyline, as she sought revenge for being betrayed. She and Deano (her step brother), who was besotted with her (MORE SOAP SEMI-INCEST!! I weep I really do!) attacked her adoptive Grandfather Patrick Trueman in an attempt to frame Sean and see him sent to prison. Despite Sean’s violent tendencies and everybody’s willingness to see him behind bars as the ‘bad boy’ rubbed Albert Square up the wrong way, justice came in the end as Deano and Chelsea’s less than stellar intellect let them down and exposed their deeds, and they both wound up in prison. Although starting off as being about Chelsea’s revenge, the focus changed quickly as Chelsea was eclipsed in the performance by the mixed up Deano (his lack of ‘street smarts’ and vulnerability portrayed excellently by Matt Di Angelo) and the storyline quickly landed on him and his father (portrayed famously by Phil Daniels).
Her next potentially big storyline again saw her eclipsed by the acting talent surrounding her. Making contact with her own estranged Father, drug addict turned Preacher (since turned serial killer. Oh Eastenders and your quirky, happy families!) Lucas, coincided with her going off the rails as she came to terms with the family she never knew she had. To Benjamin and the writers’ eternal credit, they managed to portray a realistic drug habit without going over the top or glamourising it, a very difficult balance to strike. As Lucas had reformed (or so it seemed at the time) he became a regular fixture, helping Chelsea with the problem and rebuilding his lost relationships, and the performances of Don Gilet as Lucas and Rudolph Walker as Patrick stood out far more than poor Chelsea.
From this point, there was real potential for the young Miss Fox (in itself a poor choice of name, as it sounds like something from a bad tabloid report) to be developed further and turned into more than a Heat magazine reading simpleton, especially as she met the educated and enlightened Theo, but her desire for the high life led her astray again, which soured me on the writing for the character, as Eastenders Producers seemed set on keeping her one-dimensional. As happens with characters who aren’t rounded out sufficiently, the plots have since stalled for Chelsea, although she has remained on the periphery of other important storylines, unfortunately though once again eclipsed by admittedly outstanding performances from others. After a bit of silliness with the latest flop of a character, Dr Al (who had the rug whipped out from underneath him very quickly after Eastenders‘ second embarrasing failure to develop a new ‘sex symbol’), Chelsea is again on the periphery of a big storyline, as her reltionship with Jack Branning was budding just prior to his shooting. Since this storyline began though, the announcement came that Tiana Benjamin was leaving, (following the departures and announced departures of Bradley Branning, Peggy Mitchell and Amira Shah, adding to a seemingly (and worryingly) snowballing list) which comes as a bit of a disappointment, as once again the character is being given a chance to breakout and develop into more than a cliche. Looking at the number of opportunities they have had to flesh out Chelsea in the last 4 years though, it is very much a case for the viewer of ‘once bitten, twice shy’, as who is to say they will make the most of yet another chance? With that in mind then, perhaps Benjamin’s departure is timely, as another retconning would be a pointless excercise and boring viewing, and will give her a chance to flex her acting muscles free of Soap convention. If nothing else, with her on screen family remaining very much a part of the show, a return is always possible, and could give the character fresh legs she sorely needs.
We still don’t know how Chelsea will be written out, but I’m sure that will become clearer as the story surrounding Jack Branning’s shooting progresses. Despite the general ‘thumbs down’ feeling that Chelsea gets though, there have been enough glimpses to hope that she is given a proper exit and not an OTT extravaganza for us to remember her by.
To go slightly off topic briefly to finish Chelsea’s profile, I am very interested to see how the Eastenders crew cope with this recent rash of actors leaving. I really plead that they don’t go all out ‘balls to the wall’ in casting new characters to ‘replace’ those leaving, as there is more than enough talent that has a lot of potential for engrossing viewing already in the cast. For a start, they can give the character of Zsa Zsa a point for existing and send the lad who plays Ben Mitchell for acting lessons sharpish!
That’s it for our first Soap Profile, next week we head to the Dales and take a look at the World’s most unfortunate Vicar, Ashley Thomas!
Speaking of next week, we best get to some previewing, and for once I’m happy to announce that the highlights outweigh the lowlights for the week, although the lowlights themselves paint a damn ugly picture for everybody’s least favourite channel, ITV!
We kick off our highlights with a pleasing sounding documentary series on BBC2, Hidden Houses of Wales. At first I was worried that this was another vehicle for Griff Rhys-Jones which would have pretty much been a dead cert for the lowlights, but rest easy fair reader, as this series is presented by Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen. A statement like that make draw a few sneers, but let’s not forget that LLB has really toned down his act in recent years and has become a respected presenter, and interior design is his business, making him an excellent choice to take us around these grand homes. I don’t expect hard edged facts and punchy delivery, but that’s not why you watch a show like this. Just sit back and drink in the ambiance.
However, if punchy is what you want, then Channel 4 might just have what you’re looking for with the intriguing title, Young, Autistic and Stagestruck. Whereas the title doesn’t reek of sensitivity, Channel 4 has become well known for covering all sorts of issues in a very balanced and engaging way. Autism, despite being more visible than perhaps ever before, remains almost a social taboo to many people who simply don’t understand the nature of the problems faced by people with it. I’ll hopefully be able to get our head honcho Eoin watching too, as his understanding of Austism and involvement in the causes surrounding it far outweighs mine, but I encourage everybody to watch with an open mind, especially as the Youngsters involved on this show have a chance that few people get, producing a variety show under the supervision of Theatre veterans.
Requiring less explanation and a far more casual approach is another offering from Channel 4 as Jamie Oliver is back on our screens, this time in Jamie Does Marrakech. It’ll be standard food documentary fare, Marrakech is such an enthralling destination, it’s sure to add a little extra zing to the package.
Finally we have the return of two late night staples from the BBC. The Graham Norton Show is back, and with the indefinite suspension of plans for Jonathan Ross’ new interview vehicle, remains the only celebrity chat show worth a though in the schedules. Norton is seemingly everywhere at the moment for the BBC (it’s that time of year I suppose, light entertainment always has it’s key players and he does fit the mould very well), and while I’m not the biggest fan of his interviewing style, he certainly presents a much more pleasant overall feeling than Jonathan Ross has in a long time, and gives guests far more of a chance to express themselves. For utter freedom of expression though, Later with Jools Holland returns, and is a definite ‘must watch’. There is something for everybody with the eclectic collection of guests, and Jools easy presenting style makes for an enjoyable watch. The real appeal of Later of course though is the chance to see great live performances and the always present chance that you will uncover a new favourite act. Case in point, Rodrigo y Gabriela at the Hootenanny!
Let the Mexican pair soothe you for a moment before we dive into the horrors of the week ahead in our lowlights. Go on. I’ll wait.
We kick off the lowlights with an offering that is not so much bad as just plain dull. Foyle’s War is just one of those shows that barely registers a pulse. The characters are bland and unlikable and the plots a bit of a funereal dirge. This is one of the key reasons ITV’s prime time is open to so much criticism. When dull offerings like this are the best a channel can offer at the current time (and believe me, it could be a lot, LOT worse. Just try and watch The Door, which is very likely to be the leader when it comes to worst shows of the year for a LONG time!), it becomes no wonder as to why they are losing viewers.
Oh yeah, guess which channel the other 3 lowlights are on?
Our second offending item is 60 Minute Makeover, again, not a bad show in itself, just so utterly benign and lacking in any appeal that it gives nobody a reason to tune in. Lazy, lazy stuff.
Our other two lowlights of the week are though, the worst indicators of the state ITV is in, demonstrating as they do, their ‘reverse Midas touch’, their ability to suck the life and substance out of a show with a kind of clinical consistency that frankly boggles the mind. First up is Joanna Lumley’s Nile, and it’s no fault of Ms Lumley. All the ingredients are they for a great travelogue show, but ITV just manages to drain it into a tabloidy mush, relying on cheap laughs and totally missing the point of having a famous face experience these places. They managed to make a Billy Connolly travelogue terrible for crying out loud! Last but very much not least is Ladies of Letters. What was an excellent radio programme has been run through the ITV grinder here, and again turned into a dirge, losing along the way all that made it good in the first place. Maureen Lipman really deserves better than this. I’ve really only got one way to sum this up…you knew he was coming…
No, not him…
PLAY THEM OFF KEYBOARD CAT!
That’s me for the week, thanks for reading, and don’t forget to check out the rest of our great content. On a sombre note, I’d like to send the condolences from everybody here at Multimediamouth to the friends and family of the sadly departed Chris Kanyon. Another guy gone too soon.
Send any feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org or in the comments below and remember to always stay safe.
Welcome everybody to another edition of the Award Winning (That would be the Chris Nelson Award for Best Television Column written by Chris Nelson) TTWTWB, which this week is unfortunately going to be an abridged version due to my sinuses apparently trying to eat my head from the inside out.
Artist's rendition of what is happening inside my head
Sadly this means we don’t have the promised first edition of our Soap Profiles, rather we’ll dive straight in to the depths and see what is good and bad in the next week of television!
And we kick off those highlights with the return of the phenomena that is Dr Who. Shockingly, I very nearly broke out the purgatory section for this, as I have my doubts about Matt Smith as the irrepressible Doctor, but decided my reasoning of not being ‘grabbed’ by his brief appearance at the conclusion of David Tennant’s last episode was too flimsy to justify that. It does remain a concern of mine that Smith won’t be able to fill the gap left by Tennant, a concern I never had about Tennant’s own stint as I was won over in his initial scenes with Rose (Billie Piper), even though he was replacing Christopher Ecclestone (who is my favourite actor of all time), but I am very much willing to give Smith a chance to impress. Regardless of whether or not he wins me over (something which I’m sure would keep him awake at night…) Dr Who is a ratings juggernaut, popular with all sorts of people which is pretty much certain to squash whatever ITV puts up for the slaughter against it. The BBC definately can chalk up one in the ‘win’ column here.
Also returning to the BBC for a one off appearance is Jonathan Creek. The last time Alan Davies’ quirky sleuth was given an outing I was very impressed by the show, particularly by the turn given by Sheridan Smith as Creek’s new partner, which went a long way to repairing the damage that was inflicted on the show’s memory and legacy during the deeply disappointing Julia Sawalha years. Blackly comic and always unpredictable, crime drama enthusiasts will definately be kept rapt by the constantly changing pace of the plot.
Our final highlight features what is promised to be the last ever episode of A Touch of Frost, although I’m almost certain we’ve already had one of those. David Jason’s detective is always faced by dark and hard hitting crimes, and hopefully there is still enough in the Frost tank to give the excellent show the send off it deserves. I have to say though I remain unconvinced by the ‘last ever’ nature, given that David Jason vehicles always seem to come back, always a little worse for wear.
So with three stellar and frankly quite iconic additions to bolster the schedules, what horrors will be unleashed to dampen our enthusiasm?
Dear BBC, I would like to complain about the lack of imagination shown by your schedulers and producers in churning out another series of Points of View. There is a reason letter sections in newspapers don’t get much play and why audience participation always means death for a show, and POV manages to combine both those elements by airing suitably ill informed outrage from viewers. I’ve never understood the appeal of this show. If we wanted to complain or commend, we would have done so ourselves. We don’t need a rallying cry.
Speaking of a lack of imagination, Cash in the Attic returns for yet another formulaic trawl through people’s homes. There isn’t really much to say about this, other than express utter disbelief that this is the start of the 17th series. SEVENTEENTH!
With the lack of new additions to this category, I thought we had thankfully seen the last of the overly convoluted and contrived quiz show. Sadly I was wrong, as Divided, which is for some reason presented by Andrew Castle (who, lest we forget is a former British #1 Tennis Player, but only gets announced as a ‘Presenter’ now), arrives on ITV, the natural roosting spot for the doomed quiz show. Combining in equal parts The Weakest Link and Deal or No Deal, this follows the current game show formula to the letter, and is therefore likely to be pretty unbearable.
While on the subject of poor attempts to adapt an idea, I reacted with utter horror when I saw what Channel 4 has in store for our final lowlight of the week. Bruce Forsyth: A Comedy Roast, if done correctly would be a great tribute and an enjoyable night of humour. However, done badly, it will come off like a horrible, disjointed affair, missing the point of the tradition of the ‘Roast’ in US entertainment entirely. Jonathan Ross of all people heads the bill to pay comic tribute. This is the man who for the last 3 series of his show has made a running joke of how Bruce (a legend in my eyes) is too old and full of gaffes and mistakes to still be presenting. On top of that, we have the fact that Ross, unscripted and unmonitored will likely be crass and crude, and this just all seems like a Daily Mail witchhunt waiting to be set in motion. Definately something to avoid, let’s wait for a BAFTA tribute or BBC2 theme night or suchlike.
And that’s me for the week! Sorry about the short edition, but I’ll be back with a vengeance next week, spitting fury and talking Soap! Check out the rest of our great content, send any feedback to email@example.com or in the comments section below and remember to always stay safe.
Hidelly-ho Readerinos and welcome to TTWTWB, the only column where your host will get angry about having nothing to be angry about! Not sure if that’s a selling point, but I think we need a catchphrase…
Anyhoo our theme this week comes from a regular provider of our musical portion, Holby City and is INXS with Never Tears Us Apart.
LOVE that song, and I’d really forgotten what a superb band INXS were.
…which this week involves Eastenders AGAIN, and a most infamous character both on screen and in real life…
…’Dirty’ Den Watts, who is the subject of two TWTDW-worthy entries.
Den of course was the first landlord of the Queen Vic way back in 1985 when Eastenders first aired, and was part of one of the soap’s first big storyline phenomena, his rocky, affair-ridden marriage to Angie which was big enough to become the focal point of Albert Square in it’s early years and pulled it’s first huge rating; Over 30 million people tuned in to watch Den hand Angie divorce papers in December of 1986 which is a record still standing in Soap Opera today. Such was their influence that the Producers at the time, following the on screen divorce decided to downsize the roles of both Leslie Grantham and Anita Dobbs so as to let other characters develop and turn the programme into more than just the ‘Den and Ange Show’. As with the cyclical nature of characters being featured in Soaps, the pair floundered and were given relatively minor parts and basically spun their wheels for a couple of years before reuniting as business partners, which gave way to a great deal of anticipation for Den and Angie: Round 2. This never actually happened though as in 1988 both Dobson and Grantham decided they wanted to leave Eastenders to pursue other avenues in their careers.
The Producers at the time where concerned about the potential effects the double blow of them both leaving would have, and so allowed Dobson to leave straight away but kept Leslie Grantham around for another year in a way which mirrored a device used by US television, whereby the actor would shoot a collection of scenes in a short period of time, which would then be fit into the show over the following year, meaning Grantham was only required for a few months, granting him the time he wanted to expand. The storylines filmed revolved around Den getting involved with organised crime and getting in over his head (they really love their mafia in Albert Square, I wonder if Ronnie and Reggie thought that their legacy would involve terrible plot devices on primetime TV?) and serving time in prison for arson.
Of course, this being Eastenders, nothing is as simple as it seems, and Den of course escaped from custody (quite easily too), and went to have one final meeting with Michelle Fowler, with whom he had a Daughter, at the canal (long time Soap fans will know what’s coming next…). Following this meeting a member of ‘The Firm’, the crime syndicate he had been involved with caught up with him, and Den was shot with some daffodils. No, really he was…
…Ok, so there was a gun involved too, but by the by, Den was shot and presumably dead. This is where our first TWTDW moment kicks in, although in this case, it should be more WDTDT…WHY DIDN’T THEY DO THAT!?
Originally the plan was for the episode where Den was shot (which drew 20 million viewers itself, his figures as a ratings draw at the time can’t be denied) to end with the Den’s body floating in the canal, making it very clear he had been killed. However, Jonathan Powell, controller of BBC1 made the call that the scene be removed, so as to leave the way open for Den to return to Eastenders in the future. In protest at this, and to their eternal credit, Tony Holland and Julia Smith, the original creators of the show, demanded their names be removed from the credits and subsequently ended their involvement, so unhappy were they at the enforced edit.
Subtle clues were inserted in the storylines immediately following suggested that Den had survived, but these were long forgotten by the time we pick up the story again in 2002. Between 1990 and 2001 Grantham had reportedly turned down several opportunities to return to Eastenders for a variety of reasons, but 2002 was the year that 14 years of storylines and writing was urinated on from a great height when Den returned to Albert Square. He quickly started making up for lost time, reuniting with adopted Daughter Sharon, Daughter Vicki and previously unknown son Dennis who had discovered he was still alive due to his own gangland involvement. Oh yes, Den’s return coincided nicely with start the interminable mafia wars storylines that led to three years of absolute misery in television form. Den was written as the same old bed-hopping Cockney Geezer, feared and respected by all it seemed and although his return initially garnered big ratings, it was critically panned and dismissed by many as a publicity stunt in an effort to boost slipping popularity. Grantham threw himself into the role, but was given a series of turgid storylines in a period I’m sure most Soap fans would like to forget, before finally being murdered and actually staying dead, in true Eastenders fashion, using a strange blunt object, a doorstop. He was then buried in the cellar of the Queen Vic by wife Chrissie and Sam Mitchell (who’s recent return to Eastenders gave a heavy nod to the storyline as she still had an outstanding warrant for her role) which led to the storyline seen by many as the only decent plot on the show for some time, as the body was discovered and the murder was gradually unravelled.
Of course, most people will remember the very public reason Den was killed off in such a fashion (although Leslie Grantham has maintained that his comeback was always intended to be that long), as an (brace yourself if you don’t know this, it’s not pretty) internet sex scandal hit the tabloids, featuring none too flattering pictures of Grantham on a webcam doing…things…
So while the reason for the sudden change was none too palatable, we can be thankful to Mr Grantham for one thing…SAVING US FROM MORE UTTER TRASH! It’s not been revealed what the original plans for Den were, so we can’t for certain say “thank goodness *that* didn’t happen” as we have in previous editions, but if things had continued with Den as a focal point in the show the way they had been, it is very possible that Eastenders would actually now be a shell of it’s former self, as it’s ratings had nosedived prior to his second departure. We may ask “They wanted to do what!?” here, but we can be very sure we’re all better off not knowing.
So, that’s it for our last edition of TWTDW, but coming next time on TTWTWB…a new feature…’The Best and Worst of BLANK’, as we analyse the highs and lows of Soap Opera’s most iconic figures!
But enough of that, for it is time to peruse the pages before us, and see what’s worth watching and what’s worth sending angry letters to ITV over (I’m not encouraging or condoning it. I’m just saying…Y’know…maybe it wouldn’t hurt…especially since they stuffed the IPL coverage on ITV4 of all places) as we take a look at the highlights and lowlights of the week before us!
We kick off our highlights for the week with a look at a much undersung and underappreciated soap/drama in the daytime schedules, as A Decade of Doctors looks back over the now 10 year run of Doctors, a show which has broken ground and at times managed to comfortably go toe to toe with the bigger Soaps in terms of quality. It’s certainly a must watch for all addicted students out there!
Our next highlight features somebody who a few years ago would have been very high up on the list of people ‘very unlikely to ever appear on anything I would even dream of watching unless it involved public humiliation’, but who now is a shoe-in for that honour. Dinner with Portillo features the former Conservative MP sitting down to dine with and discuss the political issues of our age with noted figures from around the world. Despite what BBC witchhunters would like us to believe, the show is almost guaranteed to be politically balanced and should give fresh and more importantly, informed insights about important issues. This is something I really recommend everybody watch, as I feel we’re certain to learn something from this series.
Our final highlight of the week has a title that will make all but the most ardent cyclist (so my eldest Brother won’t mind it one bit) wince in The Man who Cycled the Americas. While the name alone is enough to make me saddle sore (and I cycled two thirds the length of France (442 miles) in ten days with said older Brother once, no joke) this should be a fascinating travelogue as record breaking cyclist Mark Beaumont travels, by bike, from the north of Alaska to the southern tip of Argentina. Cycling is a way of seeing the world like none other, and will I’m sure show us an incredible amount of contrast and variety along the way. A real treat for anybody who wants to see the World.
Well, Ladies and Gents, it’s that rarest of times where I just plain can’t make up my mind on something and have to dust off our televisual purgatory section. This time it’s for The Delicious Miss Dahl. Now I’m all for new programmes, and especially for cookery programmes that reject their snobbish roots, and having one hosted by a non-chef is a good way to break that barrier, but this also strikes a very real fear into me, and that is that the BBC may be attempting to produce their own Nigella Lawson which means utterly obnoxious, indulgent television that relies heavily on innuendo. I really hope it avoids those pitfalls though, BBC…don’t let me down.
Now we have our lowlights, and remember those letters I absolutely didn’t recommend you writing to ITV to complain about the dreadful standard of their programming and rediculous scheduling? Well a great subject matter to include in such a letter if you were to write an angry letter to ITV about how terrible they are (even though I don’t want anybody to do such a thing) would be This Morning: Saturday, a highlights package of the previous week’s This Morning shows. I actually have no major gripe with This Morning, it’s inoffensive enough and doesn’t send me into fits of rage like other daytime shows, but a weekend highlights show? Really ITV? REALLY!? This has to be the single most lazy programming idea I have ever, EVER seen. I actually find the concept insulting it’s that bad. There is no amount of keyboard cats I could throw in here to express it.
Not quite as bad as that, but our other lowlight of the week, this time from the BBC, holding it’s end up, is Auction Party, which is essentially Cash in the Attic and Bargain Hunt crossbred with Come Dine With Me. This also is astonishingly lazy programme making, but the main issue I have here is that TV Burp finishes this weekend (don’t forget to vote in The K Factor by the way!) and won’t be able to tear this to shreds.
Once again I will be away next week, so another 2 week wait for your TTWTWB fix, but that should be the last postponement for a while! Until then remember to check out the rest of our great content, including the first of Eoin’s pointless opinions in 2010 coming soon, the latest edition of YouBookIt and the second edition of my series on M*A*S*H as well as much more. Send any feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org, including suggestions on who I should cover first in my new Soap Opera feature, or leave a comment below. Until next time, stay safe!