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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It must say something about the state of our nation that this programme
is one of the most popular currently screened.
The 'square' is peopled by such a miserable, untrustworthy, amoral, spiteful, unrelentingly dour group of characters as can be imagined. Everyone is stabbing someone in the back, everyone is attempting to commit adultery, everyone is trying to cheat someone. That, or they are being stabbed, cuckolded or swindled. Nobody is cheerful. Nobody laughs. Nobody has a blinding stroke of luck or a really nice day. It's hell, with cockney accents.
I suspect this programme must be sponsored by The Samaritans. It's perfect viewing for the depressed. It doesn't cheer them up; what it does do is present a whole community of such terminally despondent sad-arses that viewers are moved to believe their lot really could be worse - they might be living in 'Albert Square'.
Apart from the above; as a representation of London's east end, it is pure hokum. The programme-makers have evidently never been across town. The first thing you encounter on the Mile End Road is a colossal mosque. And this pretty-well defines the racial majority of the population. White British Londoners are a dispersed and rapidly diminishing minority. A large advertisement hoarding presently near the Bow Road flyover, and sponsored by Tower Hamlets Health Care boasts that 'Eight out of ten members of the community can now see their doctor more quickly'. Ten healthy, smiling faces beam down at the observer in confirmation. Eight of them are dark-skinned...
What's more, I used to work with a bunch of Anglo-Saxon - dare I say 'pukka' - cockneys a few years ago. And I can tell you that a more obnoxiously racist experience I've never had. Each day was like an Oswald Moseley rally. They couldn't pass 5 minutes without denigrating some other race or nationality than their own, and in terms that were repulsive and obscene. 'Fackin' Pakis' and 'fackin' Maceroons' were the small change of conversation. In fact their entire (and extremely limited) stock of adjectives fixated upon sex-organs and their application. Alf Garnett was a paragon of liberal virtue in comparison.
Any programme that purported to represent London's native east-end Caucasians in their true nature would be completely unfit for broadcast - even after the 9 o-clock watershed. Imagine a Ku Klux Klan script written by Quentin Tarantino and you'd be somewhere near the mark. But when they weren't being inveterate bigots they were at least extremely cheerful.
I don't know how such a soap-opera came to be. This imaginary castaway island of white misery has absolutely no bearing upon real culture whatsoever. And if you're of a comparatively sanguine disposition, it will quickly reduce you to tears of grief. Comparatively ordinary actors pretending to be comparatively ordinary chronic-depressives with cockney accents - what's the point of that?
Dull, dreary, unrelentingly disillusional, and ethnically preposterous. The most popular programme of an apparently diseased and dying nation.
Avoid it like the plague.
I've never been sure if soaps are supposed to simulate real-life. If
they are meant for this purpose, that's got to be the biggest waste of
time in history. Why simulate real-life? We can all admit that most of
our lives are repetitive and dull, so why would anyone want to watch a
simulation of that, played out by people who don't even exist?
Eastenders is unconvincing to the extreme. Nobody seems to own a computer, washing machine or car. People seem to buy shares in local businesses within a matter seconds, with someone owning "half the Arches" or "half the Vic". Sam walks around with "the books", which really are books! Most business managers have computers and accountants to do that for them. Those who run stalls on the market like to leave their livelihoods with friends, simply handing over their money pouches. They're the lucky ones - a lot of the cast don't have jobs at all so how they manage to survive in east London is beyond me.
The "gangsters" are so unrealistic it's hard to watch. The scripts are terrible, mainly down to watershed restrictions, so the writers cannot include most swear-words and are forced to use words like "moron", "idiot" and "wally" which don't really work on the same scale.
Strangely enough, soaps are the shows that are watched the most in the UK, and I don't understand this. Numerous soap magazines are on the shelves, and these tell us what's going to happen in the coming weeks, so nobody really needs to watch at all.
I don't understand the concept of soaps, why anyone feels the need to watch and why there are so many.
Sorry, folks, to buck the trend and fly in the face of the perceived wisdom which says that EastEnders is the best soap - even the best programme - on TV, but I think it is the most overrated programme of all. A good drama should make us think, should move us, inspire us, stretch our minds, and enable us to identify with the ups and downs of the lives of its characters. However, with EastEnders no intellectual effort is required at all when watching each unfolding episode, because the plots are so laboriously developed, and the dialogue and acting so predictable and patronising to the viewer. Far from being uplifting and inspiring, the storylines are so dire and constantly negative as to leave the viewer feeling thoroughly depressed. In the name of "realism" the stories are in fact unreal and sensational, and not reflective of real life at all. Just as British viewers would, quite wrongly, assume Australians to be shallow and superficial if we were to believe the way they are portrayed in Australian soaps, then surely Australians and Americans must think that life in Britain is pretty dire and depressing, if they believe that EastEnders is representative of the lifestyle of the average working class Briton. When will British viewers remove the blinkers and see this programme for what it is - cheap, sensational, ratings-driven, self-indulgent and catering to the lowest common denominator and basest instincts of its mass audience. Have we no imaginative, innovative and ground-breaking screenwriters left in Britain, and where are the new generation of great British actors to come from? Not, I believe, from the ranks of Britains "best" soap.
This soap is worse than bad: it's poisonous. Of the many television
shows that have had a corrosive influence on British society over the
past twenty years, Eastenders is the prime example. For two decades
this show has celebrated the oaf, the thug, the wide-boy, the tart, the
gobby, the violent, the sexually-incontinent, the criminal, the
ignorant, the unambitious ...
How many times has someone or other remarked that Eastenders "mirrors life"? Life on which planet, exactly?
It's written about "working-class" characters, as imagined by middle-class people who have taken a course in creative writing. Eager to show to their middle-class peers how familiar they are with the "working-class" they dream up the lumpen rabble that is the citizenry of Eastenders.
This has a toxic effect on some minds less well-equipped than others to handle fiction, and so we find members of the real population assuming the attitudes and demeanour of the inhabitants of Walford.
Thus, it came to pass that Eastenders mirrors life; but only after life had been hoodwinked into mirroring Eastenders.
Other soaps have followed in EE's footsteps, filled to their stinking gunwhales with ugly, potato-faced, shaven-headed, pot-bellied characters, scowling at each other and issuing threats constantly. This is the proletariat as perceived by the writers who produce this trash. The writers will grow rich on the proceeds of such output, and will go on to enjoy the finer things of life in their rarified enclaves. Meanwhile, the burgeoning number of new, TV-induced drones will proceed inexorably toward cultural bankruptcy.
And there you have the new priests and the new creatures of the early 21st century. Much of this is due to the immeasurable power of that illuminated boxful of dancing pixels in the corner of your living-room. It's your fault, gentle reader: that's what you chose as the only window through which to look out from your prison.
Where to begin? Where to end? I never miss an episode of Eastenders.
But is that saying it's so good that I can't bear to miss it? Not at
all. It's not as good as it used to be, obviously. Gone are the days of
truly shocking and scandalous story lines. We were hooked on "Who Shot
Phil?" We were hooked on Max and Stacey's affair behind Bradley's back.
Countless more mentions can be made, but I can't be bothered to write
anymore haha. Hooked and shocked. That was once the magic Eastenders
had on us. Now, where has it all gone? But, I will say, there is still
hope for this once beloved soap. Lucy's murder wasn't all that, and the
wait they are keeping us on is a bit much. However, it's the
performances of it's actors that will keep me coming back for more.
Adam Woodyatt has been particularly brilliant in the unfolding
storyline. The writers would be wise to keep focus on him rather than
anybody else at the moment, and to surround him by the best actors
And that's the point. Eastenders has been a hit and miss over the recent years. But I feel, if they can play their cards right, they can bring it back to top form. Never to the heights of several years ago, that's impossible. But it can be repaired.
6 out of 10, for that little bit of brighter future.
How can people be addicted to this rubbish. It's the same old story lines, just mixed up, repeated and revolved, over and over again. I bet the producers have a list that goes something like this . . . argument, divorce, fight, name calling, awkward moment, bankruptcy, pub standoff, family feud, an affair, a car accident, an unwanted person from the past turning up, a troublemaker, a mafia type guy, a bad boy thing happening, a faulty toaster etc . . . I think that The Sun red-top newspaper lovers or The Daily Sport readers in England would probably argue otherwise - but I would guess that they just cycle through a list of tragedies and film a few weeks in advance, because there is redundant cinematography, dogmatic camera angles and filming techniques, plus just the same old list of tragedies cycling week in, week out, with the odd awkward happy moment being used as contrast between the 10 odd tragedies being thrust at us in blocks. I have been forced to watch Eastenders on many a Christmas meal visiting relatives in England. Everybody sits on the sofa at the time of the airing, where electricity is drawn from France as the show is so popular, then in the meantime I am subjected to what is like reading through the Daily Sport's past year back issues whilst witnessing a kind of public execution in originality and taste. It is torture much more arduous than physical forms of torture. It is like watching a chef making instant noodles and everyone clapping and saying "Yay, what a great meal that was!" If I had to sum this show up in a sentence, I'd say that it is 'predictable Daily Sport (red tabloid shock headline) material translated into video'. It has become a parody of Britain's view on negative events as being somehow more 'realistic' than positive events. Other shows are following suit on the revolving tragedy storyline method, and who can blame them as it works, because there are enough people addicted to drama not to see the monotony in it all, such as coronation street and Emmerdale farm have. Again, who can blame them. But really, can't people see the commercial spin of weaving these same old dramatic situations week in, week out? Or is it just me - is it wrong for me to feel bored watching the 127th affair, or 245th family argument or the 1245th shouting match?
I spent three months living in the East End of London in the latter
half of 1987, when the show had been on the air for almost two years.
It was considered a running joke there.
Why? Because it had an all-white cast. Every cast member and extra in the first couple of years was white.
The street where I lived was a long one, with over 800 houses, and to the best of my knowledge I was one of only three or four white faces living on that street. We were on the corner of the Indian and Turkish "quarters", and even if you excluded those two races the Asians and Afro-Caribbeans outnumbered the white people twenty-to-one. Plus, of course, of the very few white people who *did* live in the area, the vast majority were Scots like me - a "Cockney" accent was never heard.
That wasn't a racist rant, just a simple statement of fact. The BBC either couldn't be bothered crossing London to do their research before writing this soap, or else they only had white actors available and decided to bluff it out.
Either way, as I say, in the East End of the time, we considered it a comedy show. :-)
EastEnders was superb from 1985-1989 when Den was in it. They should
have done more with him on his return in 2003. He was by far the best
character the show has ever had.
The characters were much more interesting in 85-89 and the story lines were far superior. These days the characters change personalities overnight and the story lines are so bland that nobody cares.
It's a sad as the show has gone downhill so much. Den should never have been killed off the second time around. He had just got back into the Vic. What a waste.
If you are interested in following Leslie's career post EastEnders go to: www.gorgeousgrantham.com
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I have watched this now and then for the last ten years and have felt this show is going downhill in my opinion. They have ruined characters like Ronnie Mitchell, she killed one of the characters (who was a nasty piece of work) about two years ago they give her lines like 'you don't know who your dealing with' to Nick Cotton a while back as though she thinks she is it, I don't know why Samantha Womack subjected herself to coming back to Eastenders. They seem to repeat the same story with a character dying off screen and coming back 12 years ago we had Den Watts coming back after about 15 years and recently Kathy Beale/Mitchell and Nick Cotton. I wonder who is next Paul Trueman? I was disappointed back in 2002 when I heard Steve Owen (played by Martin Kemp) was going to be killed off but looking back if he had stayed another 5 years I'd be thinking why is Martin Kemp still on this show.
Coarse, vulgar, repetitive, clichéd, unimaginative, tawdry, aggressive, nasty, this feeble excuse for entertainment seeks out the worst aspects of human nature and magnifies them across a community, never contrasting them in any meaningful way with any of the characteristics that make living in human society tolerable, let alone joyous. New writers seem to buy into the milieu immediately (yes that word, I don't apologise for erudition) by recycling plots, adultery, rape, murder, gangsters, family betrayal, sexual abuse, etc. etc. etc. in this supposedly ordinary London square. In the UK they used to call these 'continuing drama serials', but this truly is 'soap' in the American sense, trite observations on supposedly current societal shifts, hypocritical public defences of 'shocking' and 'offensive' material broadcast in the early evening on a public channel, the constant refrain that 'we merely reflect society' as if that is any defence to the constant depiction of ever coarsening human relations. If I make the mistake of being on this channel as the theme music starts up, my mouth dries and my mood sinks as I reach to turn the TV over, or at least change channels! Save yourselves from this opiate for the foolish, run, run fast, run far and keep on running!
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