Monday, November 12, 2012

What a Fucking Gutless Interview - Lorraine Newman


Where is John Humphreys when you need him? Or Jeremy Paxman? 

Saturday morning, John Humphreys handed George Entwhistle, his boss, his ass on a silver platter, and by the end of the day, Entwhistle was toast, branded too out of touch to preside over something as monumental as the BBC.

Now we have neophyte, brown-nosing, amateurish fangirl Daniel Kilkelly do an interview with EastEnders' new Executive Producer Lorraine Newman, in which he does everything but lick her backside in adoration. This was an interview that was pandering, to say the least - perhaps Kilkelly is angling for a job on the production end of the show, as his predecessor, Kris Green, managed to achieve.

I've never seen such softball questions, and at such a time as when the show, like the BBC, itself, is really in crisis. OK, I know that part of Newman's remit is to big up the show and present a positive image to the public; but the truth is most of the public - those who've watched since before 2000 - are turning off in disgust at the amateur quality of the storylines and the acting and at the total disregard for the programme's history and its new-found propensity for retconning.

Newman answered Kilkenny's questions with the panache of a politician whose arrogance precludes him from even recognising that there is anything wrong with what is billed as the BBC's flagship programme.

Crisis? What crisis?

Does Newman exist in this perpetual state?-


Or this?


Because she willfully refuses to address directly the legitimate criticisms of the show at present, and it's painfully obvious from this that she's aiming the show at the lowest common denominator of viewer and the lowest common denominator of teenaged viewer.

Ne'mind to whom they direct this pisspoor form of entertainment, the shippers on Digital Spy and at Walford Web kindergarten will be creaming their knickers at Newman's perceived benevolence.

To say I'm pissed off at the calibre of this interview would be an understatement; but I'm angrier at the way Newman is deliberately playing her audience - people whose licence fee pays her substantial salary - and I'm left ever more questioning her ability to captain this ship. 

November's viewing figures are averaging below what the shippers consider the new normal of 7 million, when not many years ago, autumn viewing, in the run up to Christmas and with nights drawing in, over 9 million bums were on seats watching what's become a shadow of a show. Will we be waiting until the BBC's "flagship" show drops to 5 or even 4 million viewers before this woman does the decent thing and "steps aside?"

Who knows? Most of the long-term viewers still sticking with this garbage do so for sad laugh purposes and to have contests to see who can spot the most inconsistencies and retcons. As a  more astute commentator on Digital Spy said recently, it seems obvious to the more discerning viewer that there's some sort of contest going on between the puerile writers to see who can write the worst script and capture 7 million dumbass viewers.

Here's my take on the "interview," bit by bit. I also want to see a picture of Daniel Kilkelly's brown tongue.

How are you finding the new job so far?
"I'm absolutely loving it. It's a real bonus having come up through the show over the years, as it means I have a good understanding of EastEnders, how it fits together and how everything works. I'm truly loving being at the helm."
Do you, Lorraine? I mean, have a good understanding of EastEnders? Because, you see, at the moment, a lot of viewers are cutting you ample slack and reckoning that your real work won't take shape before the New Year. You're lucky in that respect, because it means that Bryan Kirkwood and Kath Beedles are still scoring ire from the sheeple. You have Kath to thank for that, tweeting recently that one of the major storylines at play at the moment was one of her babies.

What can you tell us about your overall vision for EastEnders? Are there any particular changes or differences that you'd like the viewers to notice as your episodes continue coming through?
"Absolutely. I've been reinjecting the show with love and warmth, we can occasionally have a happy ending! Families are obviously at our core but I also think that friendships are absolutely key - they've been somewhat lacking of late, particularly for our ladies.

"I'd also like to stop the revolving door of characters and find that next generation, which I think is very important for the show."
OK, let's deconstruct this. Where, exactly, is this "love and warmth"?" Masood has kicked Zainab out and clearly doesn't trust her. Kat's treating Alfie like a bad smell. Max is obviously deceiving Tanya. The youngsters are, arguably, the most unlikeable group of characters I can ever remember seeing. They're rude, lazy, entitled and mean-spirited. So where is the warmth?

And what revolving door? You couldn't shovel some of those characters out with a JCB! The revolving door is jammed stuck when it should be opened for the likes of Jack, Joey, Alice, Lauren, NuLucy, Kim, Ray, Kat and Tanya's over-emphasized fat arse. Now. New blood. As for the "next generation," I wouldn't wish any of that pejorative lot of functionally illiterate, poorly acted adolescents on people I hated, much less a show I used to love.

Who is this woman kidding?

What do you feel is the current public perception of EastEnders, and is there anything about that perception that you'd like to change during your time as executive producer?
"It's positive at the moment, and as we start the run-up to Christmas, we're pushing forward a gear in terms of storylines.

"I think there's always a danger with EastEnders that the perception is one of doom and gloom, but I don't think that does have to be the case. The Olympic torch episode, the Fatboy and Denise story, and even 'Chryed' show that we can actually have a happy ending. I think we can have a balance of stories and the audience will enjoy that just as much."
Is this woman a spinmeister or is her head truly that far up her arse?

The current public perception of EastEnders, at least amongst the more intelligent, more erudite, long-term viewer, is that it's sinking in a vat of shit, populated by an overgrown white trash family that most viewers cannot stand (the Brannings), with too many female characters using traumatic incidences in their past lives to justify abhorrent current behaviour and to shift all blame and responsibility onto their male partners. We're also sick of weak men, when the show always, always had a strong (albeit flawed) central male figure. Den Watts, Lorraine? Grant Mitchell?

The rurrent public perception is, at best, that the show is treading water, with nothing happening but an on-going storyline that people detest (Shaggerman) and lots of filler episodes - not to mention, an iconic original character like Sharon prostituting herself to that wooden log AKA Jack and worshipping at the altar of Tanya as her wannabe friend. Oh, and know something? Of all those happy-clappy storylines you mentioned, the one which had the most potential was actually Denise and Fatboy. It would have been different, it would have addressed the cougar syndrome which certainly exists in today's society and the couple had chemistry. But no one had the integrity to address that, did they?

You've been credited as executive producer for a while now. Does the work on screen at the moment fully represent your vision, or will it take time for the full picture to come together?
"The change in the on-screen credit reflected the last story document that Bryan [Kirkwood] worked on. Inevitably it takes longer for some stories to play out but we're beyond that point now."
Good. We can blame you now. Suffice it to say, I am not impressed, and neither are quite a few people.

 Can you give us any gossip for the Christmas episodes this year that the audience doesn't already know?
"I don't want to give too much away, but before Christmas the viewers will find out the identity of Kat's lover. That will obviously have huge repercussions, particularly for Kat and Alfie but also for the Branning family. As we know, the three Branning boys are left in the mix at the moment, and we'll discover which one of them is Kat's mystery man.
"We will also finally reveal Max's secret - the viewers have already seen that the pressure is rising for Max, and this will all come to a head over the festive period."


We've waited a long time to find out Max's secret. Do you think the pay-off will be satisfying for viewers?"Oh, definitely. I'm desperately hoping that the secret won't be revealed before then, as I think it's one that the audience will really relish seeing on screen."
Cut the shit. Kat's shagger is Derek. Considering that Jack's filling Sharon's knickers with splinters and Max compared Roxy's hamburger to Tanay's (fatty-edged) sirloin steak, Kat is a skag-end of mutton. And I'm willing to guess that Max got married during the three months he was in New York taping voice-overs for GEICO Insurance and earning as much from them as he does from the BBC had exile imposed upon him by his criminal daughter for having the blame for her criminal mother's affair shoved onto him. I'm also willing to believe that the marriage produced a child. Since it's obvious from some of your answers, Lorraine, that you pay attention to what is said by the more insipid part of EastEnders' fandom, you'll be aware that there are no Eastern European characters in the fold, so why not make the Brannings go international - as they're already going multi-racial?

Fuck it. Just ditch the damned thing and make it The Branning Show, why don't you?

With Jo Joyner taking a break from EastEnders, are you able to say when Tanya will depart screens?
"I don't want to give away the exact timing of Jo's departure, as I think it will spoil some of the elements of the story in between, but it is a while off yet. We've got lots of Jo to enjoy before then."
Please. She is one of the problems. 

As a licence fee payer and a long-term viewer, may I make a suggestion? Common sense would tell you that there's a strand of behaviour in the Cross family, just as there's a common behavioural strand with the Mitchell males.

Cora is a drunk. She's got a constant buzz on all the time - for whatever reason, and we can well be sure why. But her daughters learned her behaviour. One is a full-on recovering alcoholic, who's savvy enough to have removed herself from the cause of her problematic (and possibly fatal) behaviour. Tanya, the other one, has a serious drink issue, and this behaviour has been passed onto Lauren.

You want to explore Lauren's incipient alcoholism? Explore her mother's and her grandmother's. Tanya's "break" can be for rehab.


What can you tell us about the upcoming arrival of Cora's daughter Ava, played by Clare Perkins? Is she definitely a regular?
"I've been watching some of Ava's scenes today, and the material that I've seen is fabulous. Clare, Jo and Ann just have a wonderful instant rapport, and some of their early material had me weeping in the edit - there is some really emotional stuff on the way.

"We regularly run workshops for actors on EastEnders, as we're always keen to see what talent is out there. Casting this way also enables us to build the character around the strength of the actor. Our recent workshops coincided with our search for a potential Ava, Cora's daughter.

"Clare actually came along to one of these workshops. At that moment, we were only looking at Ava for five episodes, but we were totally blown away by Clare and so offered her a long-term contract at that point.
Then you're easily impressed. Whatever happened to the "suck-it-and-see" approach used so well in the past by EastEnders? You know, the occasional character which proved popular - Nigel was one of those and so was Tiffany Raymond Mitchell. You seemed to have grasped the mettle with Gary Lucy's appearances lately - exactly the right sort, the right sex and the right age of character for whom the show is desperate for the moment.

But this character, who has experience but who is clearly a journeyman actor, "blew you away" so you offered her a full-time position without the benefit of a back-story and a character arc? Oh, right. Forgot. EastEnders doesn't do that anymore. It's just slot-the-space. Cora had an illegitimate baby in the Sixties. She slept with a black man, which was taboo in those days. She had a daughter. Let's get a black or biracial actress. Goody. Slot her in and write her character to fit the way she really is in real life. That way, no one will be taxed. Always easier to play yourself. Just ask John Partridge.

By the way, I figured out Cora's secret from the getgo.

"But it wasn't just Clare that we struck gold with at this particular workshop. We were also fortunate enough to find Khali Best who will be joining us in the New Year to play Dexter, Ava's son. Dexter is a force of nature: cheeky, forthright, confident but highly protective of his mum and vice versa. He'll work at The Arches and be a great mate for Jay, and Lola will adore him. I am sure he'll be hugely popular with the audience.

"Despite the speculation, we never considered Sharon as Cora's daughter!"

"Cheeky, forthright, confident ..." where have I heard this before? Jesus, if Dexter were a girl, you'd be using the adjective "feisty." Another cheeky, chirpy, chappie - and one who'll fit so well into the teenage ninja entitled turtle dimension which is taking over the show. How long before Whitney fucks him?

And here's another misbegotten secret ... slap a goattee on his fresh face and he's the spit of 
Ray. I'm betting he's a byblow of Ray's, which will bring Ray into the Branning dynamic as well.

As for Sharon and Cora, you may very well think that, but it wouldn't have been beyond the realm of possibility for the idiots inhabiting your writing room to have conceived that. As vaslav37 , the biggest Sharon-is-Cora's-daughter shipper of the lot pronounced: If the writers want it to happen, it will. Ne'mind history.

This year's festive episodes have been billed as a 'Branning Christmas'. Will the Brannings be the only focus this year, or will other separate storylines also be peaking around this time?
"There's always a few story strands around the festive period, but the Brannings are indeed the main focus this year, as the Masoods were last year.

"As the Brannings are such a huge clan now, there are actually several strands that run into the festive episodes, which have been building over the year. We'll have Max's secret, Joey and Lauren's relationship, Derek's departure, and also Kat's lover playing into the mix too."
What is it you don't understand about the vast majority of the long-term viewing public hating the Brannings? The Slaters were supposed to be John Yorke's next big thing and they were dead in the water after five years. In point of fact, the Brannings could be pared right down (and should be) to Max, Carol and Abi. Jake Wood and Lindsey Coulson are strong actors, and Max is one of the last nuanced characters ever introduced into the frame. The rest are unlikeable, played by journeymen actors and rank amateurs and they should be axed without compunction.

As a matter of fact, when are you going to grow some balls and do some axings? We have a grand total of three yo-yo couples on the Square at the moment - Max and Tanya, Mas and Zainab and Alfie and Kat. Here ... let me help you. The Masoods still have promise; but Kat should go and so should Tanya. End of.

No one gives a rat's ass about Joey Branning. He's a totally untalented actor, whose diction is poor and who breathes through his mouth. And Lauren needs a slap.

Can you tease Derek's departure for us? Will it spark a 'whodunit' storyline, and will Alice and Joey be staying in the Square afterwards?
"Well, there's certainly been a huge amount of speculation about Derek's departure and the Brannings' Christmas storylines! We aren't going to commit to any of the rumours as we really don't want to spoil it for the audience.

"What we can say is that Derek does leave over the Christmas period, and it has huge ramifications for the whole family. I can also confirm that Alice and Joey will be sticking around beyond that."

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! THIS IS WHAT I MEAN ABOUT THIS WOMAN BEING A TOTAL INCOMPETENT WHO IS COMPLETELY OUT OF TOUCH WITH THE MAJORITY OF THE VIEWING PUBLIC. PEOPLE TURNED OFF BECAUSE OF DEREK. THEY TURNED OFF BECAUSE OF TYLER. JOEY IS JUST ANOTHER TYLER, ONLY WORSE. PLEASE DON'T FORCE CHARACTERS ON THE VIEWING PUBLIC WHOM THEY CANNOT ABIDE.

 What can we expect from Bianca and Carol's permanent return later this month? Will we also see more material for Liam now that actor James Forde is older?
"It's lovely having both Patsy Palmer and Lindsey Coulson back in the show. They really feel like key members of our Walford community.
"Bianca is just out of prison, but we've actually got some lighter moments for her initially before her big story kicks in. We'll find out that she has recently qualified as a hairdresser - although I'm not sure I'd let her loose on my hair! (Laughs.)
"With Liam, obviously the character is 14 but the actor is now an adult, so he'll definitely be featuring more in upcoming storylines as well. We'll also have Dot back on our screens in January, which is wonderful."
Oh wow, in the course of six months, Bianca's become a hairdresser, which means when Tanya does leave, she'll take over the salon. In the space of less than a year, she's gone from feckless, irresponsible, and immature parent with anger issues and a thief, who found it more opportune to buy a new television rather than feed her children. She couldn't manage a business before, so now we're asked to believe this? 

How are you going to justify another six months' sabbatical? Know this: Bianca is a spent force without Ricky, and hardly anyone has missed her freckled face and big mouth. Or her atrocious kid, Tiffany.

And in case you haven't noticed, James Forde's acting leaves a lot to be desired ... but what should that matter?

Recent new arrivals for the show have nearly always been extensions of existing characters and families. Would you consider bringing in an entirely new family during your time as executive producer?
"There will be new faces heading to Walford soon, and bringing in entirely new blood is certainly not something that I'd rule out - it's important for the future of the show."
Fucking politicians' answer. Says nothing.

 After bringing back Sharon this year, are there any more major returns on the cards?
"I think we have to be careful not to reflect too much on the past. It's really important that we have a balance, and that we also look forward at the same time. Sharon has been a great addition for us, but we also have to take the show into its next era.
"If you look at the history of EastEnders, the only characters who are left from the very, very early days and have remained constant are Dot and Ian, so the show has completely refreshed itself since then. It has to continue to do that in order to keep alive."
 Let me interpret that: No. 

There'll be no Vicky, no Michelle, no Slater reunion, no Mel Owen, no Lisa, no Louise. Sharon was only brought back as a desperate measure and to keel Steve McFadden from jumping ship.

When we asked for reader questions, there were lots about Kat's storyline. As Kat has treated Alfie so badly recently, viewers are keen to know whether she'll get a proper comeuppance for everything she's done?
"There's still a way to go yet with the Kat and Alfie relationship, but it's certainly safe to say that, as always in soapland, Kat will get her comeuppance in one way or another. When the truth does surface at the end of the year, there will be huge ramifications for all concerned.

"Viewers will see a completely different side to Alfie when the truth comes out. Shane Richie and Jessie Wallace are both terrific actors, and I think the storyline has given Shane the opportunity to shine, which the material doesn't always give him the chance to do.

"There's some really powerful stuff coming through from both actors."

Again, another non-answer. Alfie Moon is the fucking landlord of the Vic. Even when the insidious Louise Berridge introduced him, we were told Alfie had a dark side. Let's see it. And, please, no more of Kat the Victim. Her humiliation should be public and in the Vic - and like her betters before her, she should leave Walford. Like Sharon in the wake of Sharongate. Like Frank in 2000. Alfie has miles left as a character and as a satellite in the Mitchell domain. Kat is spent. Not only that, the actress hasn't delivered this time around.

 Viewers have been very vocal about Kat's character being bogged down by so many infidelity storylines, and there has been quite a bit of criticism of the latest affair plot. Is this something you're aware of, and are there any plans to address it?
"This has been a particular bugbear of mine, as I'm very protective of Kat and I was working on the show when the Slaters were first put together. It's now been 12 years since we told the Harry story for Kat, and I think it is now time to let the character move on. The next chapter of Kat's story will definitely help her to do this. It's been a long time since we've heard Kat laugh, properly laugh. It's long overdue."
This has been the most honest answer this woman has uttered, and it explains a lot. EastEnders made Kat and EastEnders destroyed a character who wasn't broken when she left. And, I'm sorry, Ms Newman, but as Series Producer, you signed off on Bryan Kirkwood's wanton destruction. Now she's irreparably broken. Sometimes a professional has to take responsibility and just ditch a character who's not only run her course but become incredibly unpopular.

If she remains on the Square, there will ever be the inevitability that she and Alfie will reunite. Yo-yoing again. I was one of many who liked the Max-Vanessa dynamic and hated that a good actress like Zoe Lucker was sacrificed just to reunite Max and Tanya. I would hate for Rita Simons's Roxy to be sacrified at the altar of Saint Kat.

Get over yourself. You're paid by us to please the public, not to protect something in which you have a vested and personal interest.

Viewers still see the Beale family as a really important part of the show. Are there any plans to continue rebuilding them, perhaps with the return of Peter?
"I totally agree with the viewers, as the Beales are absolutely integral to EastEnders. Adam Woodyatt and Hetti Bywater have been busy this year filming Ian's breakdown story, as well as Lucy's on-off romance with Joey.

"They'll continue to be an important part of the show and we have some interesting things coming up for Ian, which may well include expanding that family group. But I'm not going to say any more at this point!"

This does not mean that Peter Beale (another latent adolescent) will be showing up. It could mean that Ian may get involved with someone and marry again. It could mean that he takes more interest in Bianca and her children as they are also his kin. It could even mean that Bag o'Bones Beale might be pregnant by the Turdhopper Tadpole.

The Brannings have had a lot of screen time this year. Moving into 2013, can we expect more equal screen time for the other families in the show?
"I do agree that screen time needs to be shared among all of the main families. The Masoods were certainly the main focus last Christmas, and they've currently got a big storyline transmitting. The Beales were very busy earlier in the year, but I do think it's important that we find that right balance. At its heart, it's an ensemble show and it should always feel like that."

This is a non-answer bordering on an outright lie. Interpretation: The Brannings are what the producer and the writers want. The audience can suck it.

Who is she kidding? The Masoods had last year's non-Christmas story, but there have been weeks and months when we have never seen any Masood at all, and yet there's always a Branning in every episode.

 What is in store for the Masoods after Christian and Syed leave?
"The Masoods are rightfully incredibly popular and we've got big plans for them. As well as the recent arrival of Masood's brother AJ, we also have a new female character joining the household in December. Let's just say that she's bound to cause a bit of mischief!"

Another adolescent. They're cheaper to employ. Give me strength. Maybe she's the daughter of yet another heretofore unmentioned brother of Masood's. Notice how no one mentions Imzamam anymore?

With the departures of Ben, Christian and Syed, will you be bringing in new gay characters, or perhaps promoting Danny Pennant to a regular character?
"I think Gary Lucy's portrayal of Danny has been fabulous, and the door has certainly been left open for that character in the future…"
Do tell. Gary Lucy should be a regular and at the forefront of the show. Ditto Jesse Birdsall.

We often see feedback from fans who want to see more of Denise and Patrick. Can you tell us what's ahead for them? Will future plans for Denise involve Fatboy?
"Patrick will be at the heart of a touching storyline next year. We also have big plans for Denise, which will play out in the coming year. I can confirm that those plans won't involve Fatboy, as lovely as that story has been!"

It was the only story with any originality, imagination and integrity and it would have been the making of Ricky Norwood's character. It's ok to pair up Perry Fenwick with women young enough to be his daughter and call them "love's young dream," but there seems to be something about a fortysomething woman being a pariah in EastEnders at the moment.

 Sharon's return has been quite low-key since her first week back on screen. What can you tell us about her long-term story arc? Will there be any references to Vicky and Michelle in her future scripts?
"Sharon does have a big part to play in the Lexi storyline and the battle to bring her back to Walford. There's also the triangle with Jack and Phil - which way is she going to go? And, of course, her ongoing struggle with her addiction to prescription drugs, which impacts everything and everyone around her. Sharon's story will remain constant and heat up again at the end of the year.
"Beyond that, Sharon and a couple of other characters are going to be a big focus for us next spring. That may involve references to her extended family as well."

The Jack association sucks. In fact, Jack sucks the life out of every female character with whom he interacts. And Sharon can refer to Michelle and Vicky all she wants (she hasn't to date), just don't recast Michelle or bring the odious Vicky back into the fore. It would be far better and more creative to explore Sharon's natural siblings, most of whom are in their late twenties now.

And as the Mitchells were created for Sharon, she should remain with Phil. Don't make her a Branning or a Branning satellite. Anyone with a modicum of common sense sees how her performances improve when she's around Steve McFadden or Adam Woodyatt. But, then, I forget, this is becoming The Branning Show.

 When Shirley returns, will she be tied in with the Mitchells' stories or go in a new direction? Is a return for her family on the cards?
"There's a great reappearance for Shirley, which I'm sure the audience will enjoy. It was felt that the character needed a break from Albert Square and Phil following the death of Heather, but she'll be back in a few weeks and she'll be back to settle some scores… 
"Bringing back Shirley's family is not something that's on the cards at the moment, as we are keeping an eye on the amount of returning characters that we do have."

Shame ... Matt di Angelo's character would be just what the show needs at the moment, and Shirley's children would focus the character in a different direction as a mother and an independent woman. Not a Mitchell doormat.

 Does Phil actually love Shirley?
"I don't think he knows himself! I think it's a strong case of not realising what you've got until it's gone. Shirley is probably the person who has understood him most, and he misses that hugely."
 Another lie. And total ignorance bordering on arrogance with this woman. Phil did not love Shirley, so why are you propagating that? Phil was fond of her, yes. Grateful, of course. But Phil couldn't even promise fidelity. 

As for Shirley understanding him the most, what planet is Lorraine Newman on? The woman who understood and understands Phil the most, aside from Peggy, is Sharon. Phil doesn't miss Shirley in the least. He's fucking over-the-moon that Sharon's back.

It's quite a way off yet, but we've had lots of questions about Janine's return. Can you give us any early hints on what the plans are?
"Janine is an incredibly popular character. She will be back on our screens in the spring, and it'll be really interesting to see what happens when she returns, particularly given how unexpectedly she left!

"Michael has obviously been left struggling to cope with Scarlett, so will he want Janine back? Will she want to go back to him? Or will she come back a bigger bitch than ever? You'll have to wait and see!"

You must be so pleased she's upping the ratings of ITV. Janine is EastEnders' hidden weapon. Easily the most popular female character. Forget about your Yummy Mummy hypocrite Tanya, Slut Slutter, Zainab the Pure or Barking Bianca. People with nous like Janine. Those of us who've stayed with the show remember her in her previous two incarnations. We've watched her grow up. We know why she is the way she is, as opposed to the people who've only watched from 2000 and only know her as "evil Janine." For all those people, it took Michael Moon stating the bleeding obvious Friday about Janine's hidden vulnerabilities and her bitch routine being just an act to make it clear to those people that Janine is one character - like Phil Mitchell, like Max Branning - who's nuanced and with hidden depth. She's a treasure - an infinitely more interesting character than any other female on the show and one who can stand alone without the added influence of a man in her bed. Besides, Charlie Brooks is a better actress than some of her louder colleagues on the programme.

 Are there more storylines on the way for Jay and Abi?
"Definitely. I think their romance storyline is a really popular one with the audience and an absolute delight to see. Their relationship will continue to blossom, but Jay is also due to be sentenced for his role in Heather's death, which will no doubt have a huge impact on their relationship…"
In other words, Jamie Borthwick wants a "break."

The younger characters on EastEnders have recently come in for some criticism in the press and among viewers. Do you think there was any truth in claims they were too prominent earlier in the year? Do you feel any of those characters need more work to make them more likeable to the viewers?
"I think what's really important with all of our characters is that they're distinctive. If they're not distinctive and there is overlap, you have to question their place in the show. But the younger characters have always been a popular part of EastEnders. Even when the show started, we had Lofty, Kelvin, Michelle, Sharon, Wicksy, Mark and Ian. Actually there were only around 20 characters in the show then, so that was a huge proportion of the show at that point.
This woman misses the point entirely.

Wicksy and Lofty were anything but adolescents. Kelvin, Michelle, Ian, and Sharon had drive and ambition and many, right up until Sonia Jackson, overcame horrendous odds to achieve the success for which they craved. These people were shown studying, working - hell, even Bianca and Tiffany evolved from party girls to responsible mums during their stay. What we have is a bunch of lazy, rude, mouthy, entitled, spoiled brats with no redeeming qualities.

 "I think younger characters are a main staple of the show, and who knows, they could be the next Dots, Coras and Patricks of this world! It's always great to see those characters who continue through, and the audience gets a great sense of history through them.
The main staple of the show? That says everything: EastEnders is BBC's teen soap. 

I am sorry. They are not. And you should know this is one of the main reasons that the soap is bleeding viewers at the moment. 

I am the first to admit that there is a particular genre of actor who will ever and always be a soap actor, but many of these types are good at what they do. None of the youngsters resident on today's Square show any promise as people, and - as actors - I rue the fact that someone like Lorraine Newman would want them to stay "forever." The stealth tax which is the licence fee should not be used to give underwear models on-the-job acting lessons and instant ready-made girlfriends.

One case in particular: Lorna Fitzgerald. As popular with the adolescents as her romance with Jay is, Fitzgerald is one of those child actors - like Sam Ashton of Coronation Street - who was a really cute kid and a natural actor as a child, but who is neither cute nor natural in adolescence. Fitzgerald, although she's sixteen, looks and talks like a twelve year-old. Facially, she's not matured at all, and all the peroxide in Sainsburys, all the thick kohl eyeliner and all the make-up in the world can't hide the fact that she still looks like a little girl in dress-up. And EastEnders should be cognizant of that in view of the BBC's less-than-salubrious involvement in "in-house" child abuse that's recently come to light. Abi, in full chav warpaint, is a paedophile's dream.

Examples:-


Abi at Twelve


Abi at Sixteen Looking Twelve

Would you like to see stronger female characters in the show?
"The main staple of EastEnders has always been the matriarch. Occasionally matriarchs walk straight onto our screens, Angie, Pat and Peggy have all been amazing examples of this, whilst other characters develop and grow into incredibly strong women. Sharon and Stacey are examples of the latter and I have no doubt that Lola is following suit. 

Occasionally? Is this an allusion to the fact that you're forcing the abysmal and eminently unlikeable Cora on us in this role? Angie was never a matriarch. She was a woman in the throes of an abusive relationship and well on the way to becoming an alcoholic. She walked away from her marriage and the Square with her head held high, but died a weak and ill woman - still loving a man who'd never loved her and who'd treated her like shit. And she died a drunk. 

Peggy was the mistress of her own domain, as was Pauline. Their influence never reached beyond their family dynamic. Pat, I give you, was the one true matriarch of the Square and the natural successor to Lou Beale, who came with the show, ready-made, as the Square's doyenne.

Pat grew into the role. When she arrived on the Square, she was only a couple of years older than Sharon is now and a terrifically flawed character. Some would say she was initially pejorative. She had been an awful wife and an abysmal mother. It wasn't until she settled down with Frank and mothered his brood, that her influence grew as did her connections with other people in the Square. She was related by blood or marriage to the Beales, the Fowlers, and the Butchers. She also had connections to the Slaters and, by extension, the Moons. Through Bianca, she was connected to the bloody Brannings, although none of them ever said a word to her until Bryan Kirkwood wormed them into her death episode. Through Kevin Wicks, she was connected to the Foxes. She was friends with Peggy Mitchell and one of only three women whom Phil Mitchell respected and treated as an equal.

At the moment, only one current character has any remote possibility of developing into a matriarchal figure. That's Sharon.

Stacey Slater? She was the first in a long line of loud-mouthed, amoral, self-victimising chavs, absconding any responsibility for her abhorrent behaviour and blaming others for her misdeeds. She could lose a good temper and shout. That's about all. 

And that's about all there is to Lola at the moment as well. She's not even a good actress, and for anyone to say she is, compared to the poor crop of ingenues unleashed upon us at this moment, says a lot for the poor quality we're being fed. Lola is another one who whines when she's caught misbehaving - it's never her fault that she stole or lied or smacked the shit out of someone. Boo-hoo. It's either because she's fifteen (no more) or she's pregnant (not anymore) or she's got a BAY-BEE or she was in care. Change the record.

Yes, EastEnders  had a long-standing tradition of strong female characters, but all we seem to have now are whining, sniveling, screeching loud-mouths who utterly refuse to take responsibility for their own actions - with the exception of one: Janine. Janine is a bitch and she owns it. The rest can go to hell in a handcart. I am sorry, Ms Newman, but if you think these characters are strong women, you are deluded.

"I think it's vital that we're not purely telling relationship stories with our characters, male or female, as this weakens them and leaves them in danger of becoming two-dimensional. All our characters should be far more complex than this."

If you recognise the above, why aren't you doing something about it? Why is Whitney Dean commonly known as The Walford Mattress? Why are Tanya and Max in what is a co-dependent relationship? Why can't you acknowledge the fact that Kat Moon, who was sexually abused as a child, has now become an abuser and is physically and psychologically abusing her husband? This happens. It's documented. Why have you fucking retconned the fact that Sharon has been in the UK for the past four years when Ian Beale visited her for her fortieth birthday celebration IN FLORIDA in 2009?

People notice these things.

The show has lost some legends like Pat and Peggy. Would you be interested in expanding the older age group?
"It is really important to make sure that we have that balance. If we feel that we're missing characters in any area, it's certainly something we would look at."

Well, you'd better look at the demographic aged 25-40 - women and men. Because they are few on the ground, and this particular dynamic was once the staple of the show. Not Joey Bloody Branning porking some skeleton.

 Fans are often disappointed when characters disappear for a few weeks if they don't have a big story. Is this due to filming schedules, or is it something that could be looked at so that stories cross over more?
"It's a combination of story planning and scheduling. We film two or three units at the same time, which inevitably impacts our actors' availability considerably at times. If we could clone them, life would be so much easier! We storyline 12 to 18 months ahead at any given time so we always try to ensure that we have a balance of characters, with enough excitement sprinkled in to keep the audience hooked."
What a bullshit answer! You said nothing and Kilkelly was obviously so awed he didn't bother to ask you to clarify. I can tell you something, Ms Newman, your audience isn't hooked anymore. The only ones who are are the ones Italians commonly call deficienti.

From the feedback we see on the forums, EastEnders storylines most fondly remembered among viewers often tend to be realistic, understated human drama like Billie's death, or the dark, gritty social storylines the show is known for. On the other hand, fans tend to be more negative about affairs and bed-hopping! What are your thoughts on what makes the perfect EastEnders story?
"It goes without saying that EastEnders does the social issues incredibly well, as we've seen with Whitney's abuse, Tanya's cancer, Billie's death and more recently Ian's breakdown. I think that's down to the amount of time that we spend researching things before we even put pen to paper. Ensuring we have a clear understanding of not only the factual research but also the emotional research too.
Yet more bullshit. Whitney's abuse was all about Bianca - who, if you look at her relationship with Dan Sullivan when she was fifteen - was a victim of abuse, herself. Why has this never been stated? Tanya's cancer storyline was insulting. I am a cancer survivor and I know plenty people who said the same about her cancer. She had a cold. There was no hair loss (something that is common in cervical cancer), she was seen gorging on fish and chips when she was having chemo and she drank during chemo as well - something you cannot do. Her "recovery" was a joke as well, and you didn't nearly go into the possible causes of Tanya's cervical cancer - it's a mutated herpes virus, contracted from having too many sexual partners at a very young age. Kudos for having Abi get the vaccine, but more could have been done to explore why Tanya got this most awful of cancers. Did anyone advise Max to check for venereal warts? Seriously.

Billie Jackson's death was good, but then again, it was more about Carol and her reactions; as for Ian's breakdown. Good discovery, but he was left to flounder in the wake of his recovery, and the fact that he was bullied by his spoiled rotten skinny-arsed daughter and her beefed-up tadpole of a boyfriend should have been, and wasn't, pursued. Oh, but wait ... didn't your PR department try to push Bag o'Bones Beale and Turdhopper Branning as the new Sharon and Grant? 

"However, when you look at the facts and figures, the most-watched episodes do tend to revolve around relationships - whether it's been Max and Stacey's affair, 'Sharongate' and Den and Angie's Christmas divorce papers. They still remain the most talked-about stories of all time.

You just contradicted your statement about two-dimensional characters and relationships.

 "I think a primary factor is the pacing of stories and making sure that is right. We also need to make sure that we're not telling too many relationship stories at the same time, because I think it diminishes their value, particularly where affairs are concerned.
In the words of Ronald Reagan, "There you go again." That's all the show is at the moment is a tangled web of relationships - teenage angst, where three friends lust after the cousin of one of them and first cousins fuck (yuck); yo-yo co-dependencies (Zainab/Mas, Max/Tanya, Alfie/Kat) and suck-it-and-see (Let's try Roxy with Jack; no, let's try Roxy with AJ; no, let's send Roxy back to Michael again).

"The perfect EastEnders story will have me laughing and crying, desperately wanting to know what happens next. Most importantly it will leave me feeling far more connected with the character than when it began. When we're creating storylines, you can't beat the goose-pimple test, it tells you all you need to know."

Then your standards are low. The perfect EastEnders story for me was the entire two-year period when Matthew Robinson was at the helm. Or Sharongate, which lasted two years in its entirety and is still being discussed today. Your second sentence in the last paragraph above is the single most important reason people are disgruntled and turning off EastEnders today - no one is connected with the characters being thrust down our throats - the majority of whom are Brannings.

Really, how can you assume that everything in the garden is rosy when no one gives a flying fuck about these deeply unpleasant people played by terribly untalented actors?

You really do need to remove your head from your arse and step outside your bubble.





3 comments:

  1. Brilliant summary. You hit the nail on the head with every point. Newman hasn't got a fucking clue. I've never seen anyone say so much and yet say so little at the same time.

    If she honestly believes the perception of the show at the minute is positive then she must indeed have her head shoved up her arse. The poxy storylines, if you can call them storylines, are so boring I've taken to skipping entire portions of episodes and still managage not to miss anything important. Well it's easy to achieve. Nothing important is bloody happening!

    There are so many things wrong with EastEnders at the minute I think I may just have to stop watching this crap altogether. If Newman and her predecessors were trying to ruin the series and turn into a piece of unwatchable shit then they've achieved that. You have to roll your fucking eyes at the morons on Digital Spy and Walford Web forums creaming themselves at this interview. But I have to hand it to Newman. She knows her audience are easily pleased muppets with low intelligence.

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  2. I'm glad I wasn't the only one who saw that she didn't actually answer the questions properly! I don't usually comment on your blog, but I usually agree with most of it. The bits I don't always agree with are purely subjective anyway! For example, I do like Danielle Harold's acting (the character is awful, but Danielle herself is more natural than any of the other more inexperienced young ones there!). I know you have issues with her fake tan, false nails, make up etc, but they not just the responsibility of the actress if the powers that be are happy for her character to appear with those things on screen - and, to be honest, it's not unusual for Lola-types to get all their priorties wrong (even with no discernable money - I have encountered many young people like that in my job!) and they wouldn't dream of not putting their make up on, having fake tan or gel nails done!

    I have a soft spot for the actress since the Jamie Oliver programme she first appeared on because of my work with disaffected youngsters and her "15 minutes of fame" was no guarantee that she'd actually get herself out there and get a job of any kind (plenty of the others didn't bother!)

    But I digress. The interview was rubbish, the questions nowhere near probing enough, the answers given were non-committal at best and lazy and misleading at worst. I have no idea how posters on DS are able to tout it as a 'great' interview, and some of the inferences they are making through desperately 'reading between the lines' are laughable!

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  3. Newman, as Emilia has pointed out in her blog, is aiming for the lowest common denominator. She knows her audience,, at least the ones who post on Digital Spy and Walford Web, will lap up these answers like the gullible fools they are. They'll probably still be saying it's Kirkwood's work on screen when the series is up shit creak without a paddle another year from now. The arrogance and idiocy of some of them to persist the horseshit we're getting on screen now is Kirkwood's work when Newman herself stated in the interview they're past that now. There's no reasoning with fucking idiots is there?

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