Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Shirley: Possibly Newman's Biggest Mistake

The doormat returns, and I suppose when Ms Newman finishes what Birkwood started - the dismantling of Shirley as an independent character - then maybe this will rate the lady's favourite mistake ...

Who can ever remember the original Shirley? Sure, she was pejorative - the original wanton mother who abandoned her three small children, one of whom was disabled, to return to a party lifestyle, only to re-enter  those childrens' lives when her husband had done all the heavy work of rearing them to adulthood. 

She actually expected roses on Mother's Day and instant forgiveness.

And she still loved her abandoned husband.

However, in the wake of that, we saw her emerge a strong and independent woman - providing solace for her inept and ineffectual best friend and challenging the world that was Walford.

Then, yet another Executive Producer decided to listen to the rabble of fanworld. The sheeple wanted Shirley with Phil, and, yea, Shirley coupled with Phil, even though for the longest time, Phil had to be stinking drunk before he even thought about bedding Shirley.

TPTB, circa 2008-2009, effected a curious bonding between Shirley and Ben Mach I, which led, eventually and circuitously, to Phil and Shirley sharing a house - initially, in order for Ben to obtain custody of Louise, and subsequently, because it was convenient for Phil and Shirley was desperate for his affection.

Shirley did a lot of stupid things to gain Phil as a lover - like plying an alcoholic with drink and even drinking with him; and she did a lot to keep him - like trying to hook Rainie Cross on drugs again in order to eliminate her as a rival and leaving Heather homeless on a park bench in order to minister to Phil's addiction.

The worst thing she ever did to keep him was tacitly agreeing to stay with him after he admitted that he couldn't promise fidelity and literally that he didn't really love her.

Mark you, no matter how coy Lorraine Newman gets about "not knowing" if Phil loves Shirley and even saying she doesn't know if he knows, himself, most perspicacious viewers know: Phil doesn't love her. He was fond of her. He was grateful to her for her support with Ben. But he didn't love her. Never did. She simply wasn't his type, but when a curvaceous blonde with the surname of Mitchell wasn't within reaching distance (yes, I mean Sharon, but Glenda did serve a purpose as well), then Shirley was the warm body.

This fierce and independent woman was turned into a craven doormat, begging for the crumbs of affection from Phil Mitchell's table. When Phil committed the ultimate betrayal in covering up for his son, who'd murdered her so-called best friend, upon finding out, Shirley actually had to be guilt-tripped by the Old Bill into handing over evidence which proved Ben's guilt.

And since then, whilst she's threatened Phil with all sorts, including money, to keep her from disclosing his part in Heather's death to the police, she could have gone anytime but chose not to do so.


Because she still loves Phil. And now her love's taken on a warped angle - she wants to scare him into taking her back and control him forever with the knowledge that, at any time, she could grass him to the police.

If she thinks that's going to phase Phil Mitchell, she doesn't know him. It won't. 

And even though Phil used Shirley to the bone, Shirley sucked power and spewed her new position all over Walford during her tenure as his maitresse-en-titre. Bullying the people of Walford, robbing from a single mother, playing the big I-Am.

Until Phil got a massive dose of the shits regarding her thuggy attitude and dispatched her to live with her daughter.

But she's back, I'm told, and declaring war on Phil and Sharon, for whom she's always held an insecure sort of jealousy (Phil loving Sharon and all that, you know).

Epic fail.

I'm not averse to Shirley returning to Walford. Sure, she's been ruined - Santer, and subsequently, Bryan Kirkwood saw to that. But, unlike Kat, whom Kirkwood destroyed and for whom Newman is foolishly sacrificing everything to repair, Shirley is eminently redeemable.

We've never seen Shirley as a mother, interacting with her children, for any length of time. We saw a bit of her with Dean, but prison changed Dean; and by the time he returned, he walked right out of Walford again, just when his character was becoming interesting. We saw less of her as a mother to Carly, who simply wouldn't entertain a reconciliation, until recently.

We never even got a proper backstory or explanation from Shirley about why she left her family and her children when they were so young. We got a brief mention about James, her eldest, being so needy; but maybe this had something to do with post-natal depression, as Dean was a baby when she left the fold.

The presence of Shirley's two children, along with Carly's partner and her child would move Shirley's development in a new direction; and she would also have a chance to enhance her developing friendships with Denise and Jean. And, most important of all, it would move Shirley away from her Mitchell dependancy, which has sucked the life and the character from her.

But since She Who Must Now Be Obeyed has spoken and dismissed any notion for any returning characters in the coming year, as well as specifically saying that they were not entertaining any return of Shirley's family or her children, we must assume that they are taking her character backwards into petty revenge, drunken abuse and establishing Sharon as her enemy because Sharon's "taken her man," and Shirley's insecurities with Phil all centred around Phil's love for Sharon.

Once again, we have EastEnders taking the easy, lazy way out of a potentially interesting situation, in order to devote more time to fluff and fickle youth - you know, the staple of EastEnders. I mean, we'd all rather see Joey and Lauren panting and sweating over each other in near-incestuous bonking rather than watch Shirley agonise over doing right by her children. After all, Lauren and Joey are so much prettier. 

And that, I think, is the crux of the matter. Linda Henry is the wrong side of forty and doesn't scrub up as well as some of the ladies on the show who are of a certain age.

It's the pretty factor, and it's a carry-over of the Hollyoaks mentality left by Kirkwood.

Lorraine Newman should be ashamed, and she should be slapped for making such an error.


  1. Shirley is actually a beat down to watch. I hope she pisses off sooner rather than later. Horrible mother who judges everyone while she had the power of being with Phil. Lorraine Newman has no plans to work on the character so I guess its bye bye Shirley.

  2. If we are getting a return of the same old Shirley as before with no character development, I'd rather she'd stayed away. It's pathetic the way she dribbles and drools after Phil Mitchell all the time. Where is the woman's self-respect, or did she piss it down the drain?